With the arrival of Amanda, Chip and I were introduced to matters of parenthood we had not experienced before with just the 2 boys. I always found it funny that when people heard we had a girl after 2 boys, they would inevitably say “Awwww, a sweet little girl. She will be easier to raise than the boys!” I would always chuckle and think to myself “Oh, if you only knew!” Both boys put together were easier to raise than Amanda – our sweet little girl. And yet, I wouldn’t trade our daughter for all the other daughters on this earth. She is stubborn as the Rock of Gibraltar, but also easy to please. She can be sweet as pecan pie, then turn and be as onery as a mule. She struggled with lying but had an imagination that would be the envy of anyone. She often had difficulties resisting temptations, yet on the other hand could be very persuasive getting her friends to do the right thing. Amanda was always difficult to figure out, and yet always an adventure to live with, a great adventure.
One thing we experienced with Amanda that we didn’t with the boys was jealousy. Amanda turned out to be a person with a deep and strong sense of loyalty. I think she would rather die than betray a friend. Apparently, this began in infancy. As a baby, Amanda was very attached to mommy – I mean fiercely so. Her brothers were cool enough in her estimation and Daddy was a great guy. But Mommy…that was another whole dimension. I could not spend time with the boys without her protesting loudly. But the most common episodes of jealousy occurred when I spent time with Daddy. Now her jealousy would burn like a solar flare! She would toddle up to us if we dared share a hug, insert herself between our legs, trying to push her father away, saying “No, Daddy, no Mommy!”, after which she would grasp my legs tightly in her little arms. If we dared kiss, we were really in trouble with this possessive little human! She hadn’t quite grasped the concept that people could deeply love more than one person.
It makes me think of our relationships with our friends. Do we sometimes get jealous if our friends are chummy with others? Do we feel that if a friend enjoys another friendship, that means our relationship with them is diminished? It’s almost like we feel like love is a pie. If another person gets a bigger piece, then mine is inevitably smaller.
But love is not finite. There are times when Christians see another brother or sister receive a blessing from God and they actually feel envious. Why not me? Why do I never seem to get those kinds of blessings? Our eyes can easily become blind to the blessings we have received – possibly even blessings over which others look on us with envy! We are told that God is love (1 John 4:8). So, if God is love, then love is not finite. It is not a pie which must be divided into equal portions in order to be fair to everyone. He is big enough for everyone to get whatever they need. When we become jealous over other people’s blessings, we are actually making God too small in our own eyes. We are limiting him to the size of a pie. Let us let go of our petty jealousies and learn to love in a big way, to expand our capacity to love like God does.
As Amanda grew and matured, she eventually learned to include many people in her capacity to love. She soon became a Daddy’s girl and is very close to her father today. No more pushing him away with a “No, Daddy!” We can all learn to let go of our jealousies, enjoy and celebrate other people’s blessings even as we enjoy our own, and let God expand our capacity to love.