A popular woman’s magazine did a major piece recently about the competitiveness and “meanness” of women toward each other. Cutting words, backstabbing and hurt destroys something precious: a woman enjoying the friendship of another woman, and sincerely admiring her.

Six months after Eric and I married, my brother married an outstandingly gifted, attractive girl. She was my bridesmaid and I was hers. It all started so well; we were friends.

She was and still is a gifted singer, an artist, an initiator and organizationally smart. Though I am older, and though I always admired her, I began to be threatened by her ability and charm. It was as if she was taking my place in my larger family. I was jealous of my sister in law and friend.

It took several years to understand a vital truth: I was a creation of God and no person on earth could replace me. I feared that this gifted girl would put me in the shadow. How sad that I allowed envy and jealousy to destroy time that could have been invested in singing together and sharing our art. Instead of feeling threat why didn’t I enjoy her beauty and charm and even her love for me! How wrong I was.

Finally, with some distance between us, (she and my brother moved to another city) I began to understand what was happening. I know it was the Holy Spirit convicting me: getting in touch I told her I was wrong and asked her to forgive me for being jealous.

Now I know that all of us are a rare gift to the world. Every girl, woman, married and single has the privilege to step up and express ideas, gifts, insights and inspiration that will come from inside her alone. Remember the Lord of the vineyard that went on a journey; “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” We are told to busy ourselves—use our gifts—until the Lord returns. (Luke 19:13)

Girls can be cruel to each other. I caused the pain; I repented. Now we are friends. My admiration for her has only grown with time. I cherish her friendship. She continually grows and shares her gifts with her husband, (my brother,) and her whole world.

Now I know what I did not know then: that no person on earth can take my place. I am—and it is a privilege to be who God has created me to be. All of us have this privilege. We as women can focus on God and be thrilled with our own individuality. It dissipates the threat from others and fades it into infinity.

When we focus on God we feel free, we grow confident. We can then concentrate on how blessed we are. The mother of one of my daughter in laws says, “If you don’t have a tree growing out of your head, you are blessed.”

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