This afternoon around 3:15 p.m., I stopped at the Grand Haven Starbucks for the second time today and ordered another grande Blonde roast with one creamer and two Splendas. Now, lest you think that I'm a freewheeling spender, I was gifted a Starbucks mug for Christmas (from one of my students!) that allows me to go to Starbucks the entire month of January and fill it up with brewed coffee for NOTHING. I didn't even know that such a thing existed. Now, since I am a quarter Dutch and it's January 30th, you'd bet your sweet bippy that I'm going to get every last drop out of that mug. I've got quite a reputation around the GH Starbucks for being the blonde that likes Blonde roast and Splenda. I totally get their marketing strategy though. They sell those mugs so that people can give them as Christmas gifts, and people like me who normally brew their own coffee at home to save money get totally HOOKED on expensive coffee and become regular customers. Yeah, I'm onto you Starbucks...and guess what, your evil scheme totally worked.
So what does this have to do with Jacob and Rachel? Absolutely nothing, except that I'm awake at 11 p.m., no thanks to my Starbucks addiction... and I likely will be awake for quite some time...so why not blog about a topic that's in my head?
So, God taught me an important truth about attitude through the story of Jacob and Rachel as I read it recently. While I can't relate to bigamous relationships, manual labor, or really anything about their culture, I can relate to certain parts of their story and namely, their attitudes.
Here is a link to Genesis 29, which tells their story. As you read it, notice a couple of things. First of all, Uncle Laban was in the sheep business. I don't know how much you have been able to experience sheep, but my best friend growing up had sheep for a couple of years. Sometimes I'd be at her house, and she would have to do something regarding the care of these animals and I would tag along to their pen with her. I remember very little about sheep except that they are stupid, that they excreted really foul-smelling stuff, that they were messy and difficult, and and that hers were named Salt and Pepper. Helping my best friend occasionally feed her sheep (or chase one if it got out of its pen) is really all I ever want to do with them. So I find it very remarkable and frankly - depressing - that Jacob agreed to work for seven years in a disgusting job to marry the woman that he loved. However, he put his nose the grindstone and kept a positive attitude during those seven long years (v. 20). I like that about him.
Contrast that with the woman he married, Rachel. As lovely as Rachel was on the outside, if you look closely at her character, she has a lot of problems. Rachel suffered from a condition that I can relate with, the "I want what I can't have" syndrome. The biggest object of her desire was to have a child. It wasn't enough to be Jacob's beloved and preferred wife, but she possessed an all-consuming desire to have a child and went to great lengths to procure one.
However, even when she finally had a natural son, she wanted more. And her greed didn't stop there. If you keep reading in Genesis, she took her father's terephim so that her husband would be the principal among Laban's male heirs. She was continually discontent in her circumstances, always looking for the greenest grass. Contrast that attitude with the humility that her husband showed to his deceitful uncle and to his tricky wife, and I'd say that you have a pretty huge divide in their character at this point in their lives.
Sometimes lately I have felt like Rachel. I have to check my attitude to make sure that I'm not allowing discontent to breed itself within me, and I will tell you that it is hard. Keeping an attitude of thankfulness is not an easy thing when I feel like my life and my dreams have been ripped away from me. It's so easy for me to become jealous of others like Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah, and to forget the blessings that God has given me in abundance.
I think that Jacob is the one that I'd rather emulate. He treated his difficult wife very well, which is an admirable thing in and of itself. His attitude was good in the midst of his hard labor. Yes, he chose to endure his hard labor for Rachel's sake, and I didn't choose my situation. But rather than complain about the sheep droppings in my life, I too could focus more on my Beloved (and I'm talking about my Heavenly father here, not just Ryan!) and minimize my self-centeredness. My attitude in the midst of this journey is positively correlational to the amount of time I spend praying for God's will to be done in my life. Being like Rachel and continually looking to what's around the corner or how I can squeeze out of a situation that I don't like only leads to discontent, anger, and a loathsome attitude.
So today, after I have had a really long, hard day of feeling sorry for myself, I choose to act more like Jacob and put my nose back to the grindstone. I'm not sure how long we'll be on this journey, but no matter how long it is, my complaints and pity parties would be better left by the wayside. After all, positive attitudes sound much more melodious than negative ones.
P.S. Shout out to my grandpa-in-law for the bippy comment!