Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rejoicing With Those Who Rejoice

I’ve got to brag on my kid a little.

I know it’s tacky. But I’m not taking credit for her virtues. She just came this way. (And she’s not perfect. Sometimes she bugs the you-know-what out of me.)

She has a trait that is very rare in this world, however.

She truly knows what it means to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”

She lives it now.

I know many people who, when denied a dream, become bitter and vindictive toward those lucky ones who have their dreams realized. The attitude is: “If I can’t have it, then neither should you. It’s not fair!” I confess to having had pangs like that myself, so I’m not totally unsympathetic. But I have seen that envy turn into pure poison that spreads throughout a person until they are pickled in it.  And then they poison everyone with whom they come in contact. I’m sure you know people like this, too. A particularly vicious strain comes out in competitive mothers who live vicariously through their children. I’ve seen instances where women grow to hate other women whose children win more accolades than their own. Sadly, I’ve witnessed that spirit of jealousy destroy long-standing friendships.

Unfortunately, a negative response to the good fortune of others is more prevalent than we care to admit. Often, it is thinly veiled by surface niceties. But I think there’s a knee-jerk sandbox reaction that can easily spring up from deep inside: “You got the toy, and I didn’t. The teacher picked you to erase the board, and not me.” As if the other person took something that was rightfully ours.

When I’m in a bad, dark place, it is hard for me to really rejoice with those who are ecstatically happy. It just doesn’t come naturally. I have to work my way around to it. Have a little attitude readjustment time. Remind myself of my blessings. Repent of my self-absorption.

That is why I am so in awe of my child’s ability to feel joy for others in spite of her own situation.

Her circumstances are fairly bleak these days. Accustomed to the limelight, she sits quietly on the sidelines now…witnessing others inherit her dreams. But instead of becoming bitter, she is blessed to see them prospering. She rejoices in the success of those she loves. She uses whatever influence she has to promote the achievement of their aspirations. From a place of weakness, she still manages to give others an upward boost.

At this point, Katherine realizes that many of her own long-cherished dreams will not come true on planet earth. That chapter is over. But she doesn’t sit around crying about it.

I think I might.


Last weekend, Jay’s cousin Johnny invited us to attend the premiere of The Greatest, a soon-to-be-released movie starring Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carrie Mulligan, and Johnny! (Simmons). Jay and Johnny’s grandmother, Muggie, flew out from Mississippi, and Johnny’s parents, Cindy and Ben, came from Texas.  Johnny made the limo driver come from Hollywood all the way to Culver City to pick us up, and then back to Hollywood in early evening traffic to the theatre. We felt pretty darn cool.

The actors did the red carpet thing, and then we were escorted into the theatre for the movie. The Simmons contingent had the best seats in the house. Pierce’s family was two rows behind us.

Johnny’s performance* was stellar. For the first time, he finally got to show the range of his talent. He made me cry.

Katherine was so proud of him. We all were.

After the movie, everyone rushed out to the reception. Katherine plodded along with her cane and Jay. It was crowded by the time they got there. We found a table in the furthest corner and set up base. I went to get drinks. Waiting at the bar, I realized that I was standing next to Carrie Mulligan. For those who don’t watch the Entertainment channel, she is a young British actor who was up for an Academy Award for Best Actress just a couple of weeks ago. (Sandra Bullock beat her out.) Fearless after my recent conversation with the Famous Movie Star, I told her that I enjoyed her performance. She was gracious and friendly. Jay came up just as I was leaving to take the drinks back to the table.

The next thing I know, he’s bringing her back to our corner in outer Siberia. Where she stayed and stayed until we said the equivalent of: “Well, we don’t want to hog you. We know you need to mingle.” But she was in no hurry to leave. She was enjoying her talk with Katherine.

As we got back in the limo, Carrie and entourage were getting into the car behind us. “We’ll have to barbeque sometime,” she called out to Jay in her adorable accent.

In spite of everything, I still think my kid’s a star.


This is what she lives by:

"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink…

God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…

God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (from 1 Cor. 12)


 (*One reviewer wrote:  Johnny Simmons is the real reason to see this movie. He gives a star turn.”)

(p.s. Since I've been such a shameless name-dropper here...and since so many have asked...I might as well go ahead and tell you that the Famous Person mentioned in "Shutters" was Jennifer Garner. I suppose I felt originally that I shouldn't invade her privacy like everyone else. But, in retrospect, why shouldn't I give her acknowledgement for being such a sweet person? Go see her movies.)


  1. Sometimes we have dreams for ourselves...but God has other dreams for us. I do believe Katherine is being guided for great work through Him.

    What a wonderful evening for all of you! I cannot wait to see the movie.

    I believe Jennifer Garner would be happy to know you wrote such a nice piece about her. Hollywood being sooo famous in itself for being scathing to it's own.

    Have a blessed day! xo, misha

  2. I just went back and reread Shutters. It means so much more now, knowing the "person" was Jennifer Garner.

  3. I love the way you talk about Katherine. It is so sweet:) I totally think you should tell us about Katherine and the way she responds to others. It gives us a glimpse of looking at Jesus and what He calls us to do. Such a beautiful thing to hear you describe her! I know I would totally "love" y'all:D

    I totally guessed that the person you were describing was JG. She seems like such a caring and genuine person! So, so cool about the cousin Johnny! Can't wait to see the movie!


  4. I hope every single one of those "famous" people stood in line to get Katherine's autograph. Katherine is the real STAR here! In every way. There are no external trappings that shine as brightly as the love she shares. None.
    I'll be the first to pay for the autograph of the real STAR!
    And, thanks for being her "Stage Mom." (I mean that in a nice way.) She couldn't do this without you. Marianne

  5. Thank you for sharing about Katherine's unselfish spirit. I am learning so much from her, and from you. I aspire to be like Katherine, she has the purest heart out of anyone I can think of. You have every right to brag!!! :) I am working everyday on becoming more like her, because that is the way Jesus is. Life may be difficult for ya'll right now, but my, she will reap her harvest 100-fold when we are all in Heaven together!

  6. I've been through my fair share of unexpected things too. Being positive is the only way to be. If I dwell on how things look to the natural eye, it's enough to depress my. But, I know it's not going to be like this forever. I haven't lost my will to fight and neither has Katherine!

    How awesome that you all had an amazing time!

  7. I know Katherine had dreams of becoming an actress, but how great that she was able to experience a little Hollywood through Johnny. Looking forward to seeing The Greatest!



Thank you so much for taking the time to write.

It helps to know we're not alone.