In an effort to be as authentic as Bonnie, I want to talk a little bit about envy today, how it creeps into our lives, and what God has to say about it.
As Bon points out in her post on authenticity the other day, we all KNOW by now that the things we see in social media are only representations of OUR BEST SELVES and OUR BEST MOMENTS. I don’t show you pictures of when I wake up in the morning. I don’t talk about what makes me cry (and let’s be real, I’m a Crier, with a capital C). I don’t talk about how I have no idea how to get our old claw-foot bathtub completely clean and it taunts me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I don’t talk about real issues, like body image and marriage hiccups and finances. And if I do talk about them, it’s in a very general sense of “Sometimes people have body image issues…” Like, HELLO. I DO. You do. We all scream for ice cream.
So I found myself feeling very envious the other night, some having to do with social media, which I slap myself on the wrist for. But some envy coming from made up things in my head. Unrealistic expectations of how things SHOULD be. How I COULD be.
I took a step back. I dove into the Bible. Check out some of Galatians 5:
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
I know it’s a lot, but READ it. Seriously, read it. How many of the “acts of flesh” are you doing? How many of the “fruits” are you NOT doing? For me, it’s oh so many. Of both. Okay, so, I don’t partake in witchcraft and orgies, but I get jealous. I get angry and have little temper tantrums. I’m DEFINITELY selfish. And I definitely get drunk sometimes, which usually leads to one or more of those other things I just named.
If I acted lovingly to everyone around me, ESPECIALLY myself, would I feel so envious of others’ accomplishments, or would I feel more satisfied with my own? If I practiced self-control, in my eating, drinking, prayer, and reactions to others, would I be less jealous of those who seem to successfully lead a healthy lifestyle when I struggle with it? If I truly gave my husband all of the love I have to give, and put his own needs above my own, would I be envious of other marriages that seem to go smoother? I remind you and myself at this point that we only know so much of what other people are going through, and we only see BEST sides represented online. But yet, we become jealous of what others have and do.
How to remove this envious feeling from our lives. If I could really complete that statement, I’d probably be super wealthy right now. But have you considered that maybe it has NOTHING to do with all those other people, and EVERYTHING to do with you? Instead of getting hung up on everyone around you, turn the focus to yourself.
Remember this goody in Matthew 7?
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I constantly fail at looking at MYSELF when dealing with any issue, be it envy, anger, or negativity. So my goals are to continue to be introspective, something I seem to keep failing at. What do you do to improve yourself? Any tools for assessing your own struggles?