Just saying those words creates varying degrees of connotations and images. It’s a nasty, quiet issue that not many want to admit they deal with.Some of us deal with envy by making jokes or snide comments about someone we’re jealous of, hoping to get confirmation from those around us. Others keep it to themselves and let it fester. Both are equally damaging.
My first recollection of jealousy goes back to elementary school. I wanted red-headed Paula Daniels to be my best friend and only my friend. If she played with anyone else or had a play date with someone, I was so hurt. When she moved away and Michelle Miller moved in, it started all over. I battled this little problem for 20 years. I didn’t know how to share friends. It caused a lot of stress and repelled the people I desired to be in a relationship.Even though I no longer am jealous in relationships, envy sneaks in other ways that surprises me. Jealousy can look a million different ways and take on numerous shapes. I’m always surprised when jealousy raises its head. For example, it can be when someone I know accomplishes something I want to do, when I’m left out of a girls trip where I thought I would be invited, or a woman my age looks WAY younger and better than I do.
One of the problems is there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to jealousy. I don’t get jealous every time someone I know does something great or every time I’m not invited. I’m usually surprised when I realize I am jealous.
Here are common examples where some may experience envy:
- The woman who is beautiful and in fantastic shape. She also has perfect nails, kids and husband.
- The mom who is creative and has amazing children. She homeschools, makes everything from scratch AND keeps an immaculate house.
- The family who has more resources (i.e. Money). They have extra cars in their garage and a second home at the beach and…
- The group of people who are out and having fun together (and you’re not).
- The couple who appears to have a terrific and loving marriage. They cannot get enough of each other and are so engaged in conversation you hate to interrupt them.
- An individual who has experienced success in a field where you desire to be or are currently but haven’t had the same level of success. You’ve dreamed of getting where they are but nothing falls into place.
- The family at the restaurant who has two more children than you do but their kids have no problem sitting, using good table manners and aren’t kicking their siblings under the table, unlike yours.
The common thread in the above examples is comparison. Jealousy is the problem but comparison is the catalyst. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and that’s where envy sneaks in. I’ve developed my own way to deal with jealousy. Here are the steps:
- Recognize what jealousy looks like.
- Just like happiness, sadness, etc., jealousy also exhibits a feeling. Take note of envy when it raises its ugly head.
- Comparing ourselves or our situation to someone else is a good indication that jealousy is active.
- Not wanting the best for that person is also an easy sign. In my head it would sound like this, “I’m not going to his event. I’m sure it won’t be that great.” Or, “Her article has nothing to offer me.”
- Desire to be rid of envy.
- Even after jealousy is recognized, it can be difficult to know how or even want to do something different. The difficulty with jealousy is we usually are looking for someone to discount or blame to make ourselves look or feel better. This is also known as insecurity.
- Develop a plan to crush the nastiness that comes with jealousy.
- Have a formula set to get past envy and experience freedom.
Here’s a hypothetical example how to put it all together:
1. An acquaintance shares pictures on social media of her fourth beach trip this year. It triggers the thought that I haven’t been to the beach in five years.
2. I look at my current situation and hers and compare. That develops into jealousy.
3. At this point, once envy is recognized as the culprit, steps are taken to reconcile.
4. The first thing to do is ask God to show how He sees her. Understanding the value and worth someone has is critical in overcoming envy.
5. Next, recognize the value and identity that God has given me. Become secure in my current situation. Be thankful for all the blessings that have been given and the good things that will come.
I continue this process until envy goes away and all that’s left is a gladness for the person I’m focused on. I know this is accomplished when I am truly happy for the person I was comparing myself to. Be aware, once you begin this process you may be surprised all the little places that jealousy hides. Also, this may take time. Don’t get discouraged if you trip up. Stay with it!
In my own situation, I found I was dealing with jealousy sporadically with my friends, family, acquaintances. Jealousy is an ugly vining weed and once it takes root it creeps in to all areas of our lives. It can squeeze the life out of us and we don’t even realize it.
One other side note. If you are the one causing jealousy for others and you are aware, do not let that affect your identity or change your life but be sensitive. We live in a time where our lives can be broadcasted 24/7. If you live a charmed life, that’s wonderful, but be aware of other people’s struggles.
Our value and relevance do not depend on what we are or are not or how we compare to the rest of the world. We are loved beyond compare by the One who created us. This is what gives our life credence.