When a friend of mine succeeds, something in me dies. – Gore Vidal
Jealousy is the worst isn’t it? What kind of no-good, lousy emotion takes a perfectly confident person, chews ’em up and spits ’em out to feel inadequate? The green-eyed monster can poison entire relationships, ruin friendships, and cue self-loathing in a snap; all because we’ve concluded that what we have isn’t enough and whatever they have is.
We forsake the gifts God has given just for us in hot pursuit of what He’s given someone else.
That’s jealousy, though; envy is much worse.
Envy is more than a bad case of the gimmes; as a deadly sin, it’s not just a desire for what others have, but a despair at the their happiness and/or blessings. I think most of us can identify with having at one time a sense of failure or even hopelessness when someone else wins where we’ve come up short. Suddenly someone’s success is a threat to our security and the classic defense mechanism is resentment. “Don’t be better, be bitter,” hisses Envy.
BLECH. It really is the worst.
Like other sins, envy blinds us from God’s truth and mercy, which should be the lens through which we see our whole lives. But the devil would have us deny God’s Hand in our own lives and seek after illusions. God’s blessings for others are supposed to inspire love and admiration.
But when we’re steeped in bubbling envy, it’s just not possible to see all this. Or maybe feel all this. It’s a powerful poison that can course through a soul; but thank God that there are antidotes that can bring us back to the light of charitable, honest regard for ourselves and others.
1) Stop comparing yourself to others. Really, just stop. I used to think that comparing yourself was bad only if you found yourself lacking, but no – it’s bad if you think you’re superior, too; because then you can brood conceit and pride in yourself instead of the Source of your gifts. Gratitude is the classic antidote. Take a good long look at your life. God didn’t skip over you when He handed out blessings. Make a list of 100 things you’re grateful for – people, past events, aspects of your personality, whatever – and read it aloud every day.
2) Find your mission. I was given a particular set of gifts from God unique to His purpose for me on earth. There’s something specific that I’m supposed to do while I’m here and it’s just. for. me. You can’t do what I can do in the exact way I do it; but then, I can’t do what you do either. And that’s good. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The flaw with envy is that it seeks to be the same, but aside from completely boring, it’s against the nature of the the Body of Christ.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?…As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:17-20)
SO, after you complete No. 1, take a good, long look inside at your gifts (If you can’t find them, they’re often hidden behind the things you get really, really jazzed about.) and develop them to use in YOUR mission, what God is asking of you each day and for the whole of your life.
3) Turn your frustration into fascination. That’s a line from my mom right there; and such great advice, too. The devil tempts us to frustration at someone else’s blessings, but God calls use to admire Him through His work and graces, as given to others. I’ll admit that in the Catholic Woman Blogging Biz, it’s hard to stand out. Sites like mine are about a dime a dozen it seems; and it’s easy to get frustrated when the work of others is bigger or better than mine. But when I try to discover the charisms and holy insights others offer in light of them being blessings from God, I’m fascinated. I’m humbled. I’m open to experiencing God through them. If someone is strong where you’re weak, try to adapt their approach to your gift and ask for their help. Envy has no room to breathe when humility enters.
4) Pray for those who make you envious. When afflicted with jealousy or envy, my problem is ME. It’s not about the other person or anyone else I’d like to blame. Sin is a problem within myself and the best way to change the inner-stirrings of my soul is to PRAY. Aspirations like “Please God, take this envy from me,” and/or having a consistent, daily prayer time is absolutely the way to go. It’s when I go a little green that I need to approach God, ask Him for His mercy and the ability to channel it toward others.
Envy stops where love begins and the simplest way to love people is to pray for them.
Pray that God’s will happen for them.
Pray that they’ll be happy and be successful.
Pray that you can see how precious they are (and YOU ARE) to God.
Everyone has 5 minutes that can be budgeted toward quiet prayer time. Make it happen.
In every struggle is the opportunity for God’s grace. Jealousy and envy have no place in our souls, no right to dwell and poison our thoughts which could otherwise be content and peaceful. And really, when my mind is so fixed on wanting what someone else has, I have no sight to see God’s blessings, and consequently zero understanding of His will for me. More important than any other method of rooting out this sin is asking for God’s grace to admire those who typically wake the green-eyed monster in us, so we can see them in light of God’s love.
feature photo by epSos.de