Like most girls of my generation, I watched the Brady Bunch every day after school and I loved it! I loved Mrs. Brady’s mullet of a haircut. I wanted one for myself. I loved that they had a maid and wished we had our very own Alice. I loved the bathroom that they had with the sliding doors. They could enter from either bedroom! Revolutionary! It made 6 kids sharing 1 bathroom seem romantic somehow. And my favorite character was Jan, the middle daughter. Not just a middle daughter, but the middle sister.
There she was, stuck between the adorable little sister Cindy, with her ringlet curls and her sweet, little lisp and her smart, talented older sister, Marcia. Marcia seemed to have it all: long blond hair, a posse of boys who wanted to take her to the dance and an abundance of plaid mini-skirts. And then, by a cruel twist of birth order fate, there was Jan, with all the classic symptoms of Middle Child Syndrome: she felt like an outsider, like she didn’t have anything of her own, she wondered why everything came so easily to Marcia, but nothing good ever happened to her. Hard as she tried, no one ever seemed to notice her, but Marcia had a shelf full of trophies and blue ribbons. It was so exasperating that it led her to utter her most famous and often quoted line “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”.
I too am a middle sister. We laugh about it now, but when we were kids and my sisters and I played Barbies or just good, old fashioned pretend, my sisters would be one family and “live” in one room and I would be the next-door neighbor and “live” in a different room. I’m sure I didn’t help things by adopting “Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, I Think I’ll Go Eat Worms” as my very own theme song. Maybe my own middle sister-ness is why I relate so well to Jan. But, honestly, I don’t believe that birth order is what makes us sympathetic to Jan. I believe, no matter where we fall in our family birth order, to some extent we all have our own Marcia.
In John chapter 21, after a long night of unsuccessful fishing by Peter, John and some of the other disciples, a resurrected Jesus appears on the beach and fills their boat with fish. He then cooks them a fish breakfast on the beach and when they were done, Jesus begins a final discussion with Peter. “Peter, do you love me?” Let’s get a little perspective. Not long ago, just a few weeks really, when Jesus was most alone, Peter denied even knowing him. Jesus knew it and Peter knew that he knew and now they were going to get some things worked out. They did. Jesus told Peter the plan that he had for him. Peter was to tend his lambs, to take care of his children. Jesus was handing over the shepherd’s staff. God had some big plans to use Peter, but ultimately the plan was going to lead to his death.
Peter looks around and sees John. John was the “good” one. John was the only disciple who stood by Jesus. He was the only one at the cross while Jesus was crucified. As a matter of fact, from the cross Jesus looks at John and gives Mary, his mother, over into John’s care. Yes, Mary is now a part of John’s family. John even nick named himself “the one who Jesus loved.” How do you compete with that? “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”
So Peter asks the question. What about John? What are your plans for him? Is he going to die too? In verse 22 Jesus says “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? AS FOR YOU FOLLOW ME.”
Our calling, our gifting, God’s plan for our life, it is not a competition. Jesus wants us to stop looking around and seeing how great everyone else has it and how difficult we have it. As I look around to find someone else to point my finger at in order to excuse my own slowness to follow, I imagine Jesus screaming in my ear “Stop comparing and contrasting. Stop wishing you had someone else’s circumstances or someone else’s life.”
In Ephesians 2:10 we are told that we are God’s creation. He is forming, building, growing and gifting us to do the good things that he has planned for us. We need to stop looking at what others are created to be and do and start looking at the masterpiece that through Christ Jesus he created us to be. We have everything we need in him for life and godliness. We need to stop being crippled by our resentment of other’s blessings and start rejoicing in the fact that he wants to use us in his plan. Jesus says “As for YOU follow me.”
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"
Debbie Dartt Ministries © 2016
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