I struggle from time to time, as I imagine most people do, with feelings of envy. That whole “Keep Up With The Joneses” mentality can really take control of my thoughts if I am not vigilant about protecting against it.
I think I am getting better about it as I age and grow more comfortable in who I am though, because I never used to catch it until I was well in the middle of a full-blown bout of (capital E) Envy; but now I usually catch it early – with the first few pangs of “gimmie gimmie” and “gotta have it all” thinking.
I have a list of thought-weapons I use to combat the Envy attack at those times, things I remind myself to set my thinking right again. It helps to acknowledge the MANY amazing gifts we have in our lives – to list them one by one and to hear that list growing long in my mind. I also remind myself that others may look at those many gifts and feel the same twinges of Envy that I might be feeling towards them.
It is also hugely powerful for me to find guidance in passages of the Bible that directly address envy:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy,
fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I
warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
-1 Corinthians 13:1-8
And to pray the words of the Song of Solomon to seal my heart from Envy:
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.”
It is easy to be on the outside looking in and to desire what I presume others may have. I find comfort and strength in using these tools to remind myself that the grass is not always greener and things are not always as they seem in the “perfect” lives of others; and also that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, I have exactly what I am meant to have at this moment, and I am living the life I am to live as ordained by God.
How do you cope with feelings of Envy in your own life?