Jealousy leprosy

Jealousy is a terrible emotion. It makes you think that you are not in control of your life. It makes you think that other people have stolen something from you that is yours. Rather, something that you think should be yours. But the bad part is the reason you are stuck in the place you are is because of your jealousy. When you start to blame other people for your problems, that is your problem.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Likewise, all of your emotions are up to you. Someone else cannot make you feel angry or sad or upset or even happy. You choose to feel these feelings when they say or do whatever they say or do. You are entirely responsible for how you feel, not other people. For you to make your happiness or sadness dependent on someone else is to give away all of your power.

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Taking care of your parents when the relationship is bad

There is nothing about being an adult child that means you want to take care of your parents. There is nothing about the situation that says you even know how to.

You didn’t enter into this relationship voluntarily. Nobody asked you if you wanted to be the child of these people, and nobody asked you if you wanted to take care of them as they got older.

Just because they raised you doesn’t mean you are obliged.

What if they did a poor job of raising you? What if they were abusive? What are your obligations and responsibilities then?

Sure, there is social pressure and Christian guilt to deal with. Society expects you to drop everything and take care of these people. Forget the fact that you barely have enough time money or energy to take care of yourself.

Getting married is a legal commitment. You swear before your friends and family and a witness that you will take care of each other, no matter what happens. You make no such commitment to your parents. It is all passive. You are born into this family. You have no choice, and you haven’t promised anybody anything.

But yet you are expected to drive them around when they can’t anymore, to cook for them, to spend the night at their house when they are afraid…the list goes on and on.

Taking care of your parents is like taking care of children, but in reverse. As they grow older, they grow more needy and less able to care for themselves. As they grow older, they grow less independent and more dependent.

The really big problem is that unlike children, they remember being independent, and they don’t know how to receive help. They certainly don’t want to get help from their children, regardless of their age. They feel that something is wrong with this situation, and that they are losing control and power. That only makes the situation more difficult.

Another problem is that nobody trains you, the adult child, how to take over responsibility. Nobody tells you that now you are the parent and they are the child. So it is hard for you and for your parents.

If there is a history of abuse or neglect it is even harder.

People who had a great relationship with their parents cannot understand this.

Gift

I’m trying to see every experience as a gift, as something special. I’m trying to trust that God is in charge of everything and that everything is going as planned.

It isn’t easy.

I feel trapped in someone else’s madness right now. Some dumb decisions have been made by others and it is affecting me. It is only going to get worse. I want somebody to take over, take charge. I want somebody to rise to the occasion and be an adult. I’m not seeing it happen yet.

And then I remember how much I love the story of Jonah, praising God in the belly of the whale. While in the middle of the problem, Jonah praises God.

And I remember Jesus saying in Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (RSV)

I’ve come to understand this to be about everything – situations, feelings, ourselves – not just people. We are to act in a loving manner all the time.

And I remember Job saying that if he only loves God when he gives us good things, then he doesn’t really love God. His wife has just told him to curse God for all the afflictions that have happened to him.

Job 2:10
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (RSV)

OK, so what do I do about all these feelings? How do I handle them? How do I act in a loving way towards my anxiety right now?

I was talking to a friend about all of this and she told me about this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh. “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” (Being Peace)

Sometimes this feels like AA. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr)

If I believe that God is a loving God, and that God is in charge, I have to trust that everything that happens is part of God’s plan, and that it will all work out for the good.

The problem is trusting that.

I feel like I did when I was in a river rafting trip with a boyfriend many years ago. He was a guide, and we’d taken a raft with some friends down the Ocoee River in the off season. He knew of a spot where we could “surf” – we could ride the river, sort of stuck in this one area for a bit. Some of the water started to come into the raft. I started to get terrified and went to leap out of the boat. My boyfriend knew that would be a terrible idea – I’d get stuck under the raft in that area. Unbeknownst to him, it really would have been a terrible idea – I wasn’t a great swimmer either. All I knew was that something bad was happening and I wanted to get away. He held my shoulders down so I couldn’t leave the boat. He explained it all when we were away from that situation. He didn’t have time to explain it then.

I want to get away from this situation.
God is holding down my shoulders.
It will all make sense later.
Breathe, trust, and give thanks.