"Do you ever get jealous?" my friend asked me. I could tell she was hesitant to ask me this. What if I said no, I didn't struggle with jealousy, and she was left alone with her feelings spread out in front of us, vulnerable and exposed.
In that moment, I had a choice to make-- be honest and get vulnerable with her or gloss over the truth with some spiritual platitude. To say out loud what I wish weren't true or purport those feelings I wish were true. In a split second, I made the decision.
"Of course!" I responded. "I struggle with jealousy more than I wish I did." I watched her breathe a sigh of relief that she was not alone. And then we spent some time talking about the things we find ourselves being jealous of, how petty we feel about it, and how we keep our focus in the right place, redirecting our thoughts to where they need to be instead of running off on a jealous tangent.
I wish I wasn't prone to those jealous feelings. Jealous that this person got a book contract by a company that turned me down. Jealous that this person got booked to speak at an event I really wanted to do. Jealous that this person gets waaay more blog comments and waaaay more hits than I ever dreamt of. Jealous at this person's true gift for writing and that person's unique blend of humor and profundity. Jealous of houses, clothes, weight. It's so base, so silly, so human.
God has taught me much about jealousy-- how to turn from it, how to guard myself against it. But unfortunately, knowing what to do and actually forcing my mind and my will to do it are sometimes two different things. Through the years, God has shown me "the rest of the story" when people I was jealous of in the past had terrible things happen to them. And I heard His whisper: "Still want her life?" Oh, how ashamed I was for wanting what was never mine to have, because I couldn't handle the burdens that accompanied that life. He knew it, why couldn't I accept it? Yes, the big green-eyed monster does rise up within me unbidden, too often for my taste. I want to slay him forever but he seems to have multiple lives, returning again and again to take up residence in a heart that isn't supposed to be his home.
Do I ever get jealous? Absolutely. Do I want to be jealous? Not at all. Each day I focus in on who God created me to be (complete with gifts as well as limits) and the situation He has placed me in. I re-situate my mental blinders so that I am not tempted to look to my right or my left. I keep my focus on Him, and Him alone. When I do that, jealousy has no place in my life. The trick is to keep doing that every day, learning to be content where He has me and resting fully in that.
Deuteronomy 5:32-33, "So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess."
I Corinthians 3:3, "You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"
Philippians 4:12, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
Proverbs 27:20, "Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man."