Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Everything You Want – Vertical Horizon

Jealousy sucks. I’ve been struggling with it so much lately, too, and I can recognize how it poisons me. I agree with the writer of Proverbs who wrote that “envy rots the bones.” (14:30)

I wonder what the root of jealousy is? Elizabeth Bowen wrote, “Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.” This describes well what jealousy feels like: others are happy, overly joyful or secretly mocking, while we are left alone to look like a fool.

I’ve discovered the best cure for jealousy is to spend less time thinking about what others are up to and more time thinking about my own actions and ambitions. I don’t mean in a selfish way, ignoring the needs of others. Rather, I mean it in a “get off of Facebook” kind of way. The pretty pictures people post only display the very best of what is going on for them. The reality is much less perfect. We all have struggles, trials, bad days. We all have victories and joys. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to see a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time. She is one of those friends who has always seemed to so easily get the things I had to scratch and claw to get. In many ways, I dreaded seeing her because I felt like it would be painful – another reminder of all the ways I fall short and she is succeeding in her perfect life. However, what happened was that when we finally got together and spoke face to face, all I saw was a fellow human being and friend with her own quirks and gifts. We laughed and shared stories – honest stories about the good and bad the last years had held. Simply being together and seeing her in real life instead of imagining her life was all I needed to let go of all my visions that her world was so much better than mine.

Another elixir for envy is simply remembering to speak kindly to myself. When my mind starts ramping up with negative thoughts about myself and my abilities, it is time to stop, breathe and pray – and speak to myself like a friend. It’s usually easy for me to be kind to others, to point out their good qualities, to tell them the ways I notice they bless me and others…but when I look at myself, my attention immediately darts to my flaws. Treating myself with kindness includes making sure I have some fun each day, too, and to not let my life completely revolve around caring for my congregation and caring for my family. An old episode of Mad Men, a movie with my boys, lunch with a friend, going to bed early and reading, any of these things help me feel cared for and a tiny bit spoiled and reminds me of how much good there is in my life, just as it is.

Do you struggle with jealousy? Does envy creep into your bones more often than you would like? Don’t be too hard on yourself because jealousy is a very human emotion – it is normal to feel that way. But you get to decide what to do with that emotion.  You get to decide if you will feed those feelings or starve them. Social media, isolation, trying to undermine the efforts or speaking badly of those you envy – that will only intensify the feeling. However, if you help others celebrate their successes, wish them well, pray for them, keep working hard on what matters to you, and take good care of you, the jealousy will starve to death.

Everything You Want

Somewhere there’s speaking
It’s already coming in
Oh and it’s rising at the back of your mind
You never could get it
Unless you were fed it
Now you’re here and you don’t know why

But under skinned knees and the skid marks
Past the places where you used to learn
You howl and listen
Listen and wait for the
Echoes of angels who won’t return

He’s everything you want
He’s everything you need
He’s everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
He says all the right things
At exactly the right time
But he means nothing to you
And you don’t know why

You’re waiting for someone
To put you together
You’re waiting for someone to push you away
There’s always another wound to discover
There’s always something more you wish he’d say

He’s everything you want
He’s everything you need
He’s everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
He says all the right things
At exactly the right time
But he means nothing to you
And you don’t know why

But you’ll just sit tight
And watch it unwind
It’s only what you’re asking for
And you’ll be just fine
With all of your time
It’s only what you’re waiting for

Out of the island
Into the highway
Past the places where you might have turned
You never did notice
But you still hide away
The anger of angels who won’t return

I am everything you want
I am everything you need
I am everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
I say all the right things
At exactly the right time
But I mean nothing to you and I don’t know why
And I don’t know why
I don’t know

Published by Ruth E. Hetland

Ruth E. Hetland is the pastor of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Audubon, Minnesota. She is a mom, wife, skeptic, and Alt for Norge (Norwegian reality show) participant. She has served as a pastor in three other congregations prior to Saint Peter's: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Newstead in Akron, New York, First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Our Savior's Lutheran Church at Norse of Clifton, Texas. She has been published in The Lutheran magazine, Christ in Our Home, the Word in Season, the Upper Room, Sundays and Seasons, and several other worship resources. Her most recent book is "Writing With a View of the Graveyard: Loss, Life, and Unruly Grace;" (2018). This devotional with photographs of rural churches is available in black and white on Amazon and in full-color by contacting Ruth at; Ruth's first book, a preaching resource, "The Power of Place and Story in Preaching," was published in 2012 and is available on Amazon. Ruth can be contacted at

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