Jealousy lurks in the dark corners of a party, on the innocuous status updates of Facebook friends. Its tentacles seek out the ones who are discontent, the feeble-minded, squeezing the joy from their souls until all that is left is a bitter husk, taking pleasure in others’ pain.
I saw it in the face of Cinderella’s stepmother, and it scared me. Because I don’t want to be like the stepmother or the stepsisters. (Yes, I admit, I saw the movie twice and loved it even more the second time).
I will just say, I know there are people who think kindness is a weakness, that Cinderella was some ditz of a girl who let people step on her.
But that’s not what I think. You see, the message of this fairy tale is not only to be kind, but to have courage too. That’s what I saw in her. She had the courage to be kind, even to those who did not deserve it. She had the courage not to allow her circumstances to break her, to not become bitter over what she did not have but to cherish what she did have.
What I want to add to this, however, is that people can be kind, but it takes more to be genuinely kind. To be kind even when knowing you will get nothing in return. To be kind but not take pride in the fact that you are kind, but to maintain humility as well. I think it requires more than your own power to do so because I know I will fail to achieve these standards every time.
I must admit, I haven’t had the best of attitudes this past month. Comparison is a bitter enemy. I see my parents and how much they did when they were my age, and I feel like I’m so much less spiritual than them, so much more immature. I look at other people, how much they’ve accomplished, and I feel like nothing.
I hear friends talk about their vacation plans, gush over their significant others, fawn over their babies, and I feel left out.
And what I hate the most about it is that I know they did nothing wrong to make me feel that way. It’s all on me. It’s my sinful attitude, my pride to want to be better than others, my envy of what others have, my greed in not being satisfied with what I have. God, forgive me.
So the girl inside me wants to say I want to be kind like Cinderella. But I know it’s more than that. I should be saying, I want to be holy like Jesus. To have a genuine love for people, even when they are difficult to love. To not be filled with bitterness and jealousy, but to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. To realize I can’t achieve such high standards on my own but only by depending on the Lord.
I also do want to say, I am thankful for what I do have. I might not be extremely popular or rich, but I am blessed. I don’t get hundreds of likes on my status updates, nor do I have 900 FB friends like some people. But God has given me people who count—friends and family.
I can count the number of real friends (not virtual friends) on my fingers. They are the ones who noticed when I deactivated my FB account. They are the ones who emailed or called me to make sure I was all right. They are the ones who will take time out of their busy lives to invest in spending with me. They are the ones who call me out when I do something psychotic or stupid or psychotically stupid.
They are also the ones who have the greatest potential to break my heart. Some of them, unbeknownst to them, already have in some ways. But I won’t get into that right now.
So as I watched Cinderella for the second time, I realized something else. She was blessed with real friends. They were not human friends, of course, but they were true ones. She was blessed with loving parents and a fairy godmother. And in all ways that matter, that was a lot more than her stepmother and stepsisters had, for all the material possessions in their greedy hands.
I very nearly cried. Because I still have healthy parents always willing to go the extra mile for me. Because I have a brother who was willing to sit through Cinderella with his mother and sister. Because I was sitting next to a guy friend willing to sit through Cinderella with me. Because he was also willing to spend the day with me despite his busyness and because he’s always willing to drive out to my area despite the inconvenience because I don’t like to drive. Because my best friend came to hang out with me even after a funeral and a long week of work for her. Because though she hates driving as well, she’s always willing to drive me.
And that epiphany, dear readers, was the pinnacle of my weekend.