Over the past month, I’ve been on a journey with jealousy. Now, I have dealt with jealousy throughout my entire life. Sometimes it’s been overwhelming. Other times, it’s been a brief, passing thought. But last month, I got that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach when I start to get jealous, and frankly I was tired of it. I want it to stop.
Jealousy is the beginning of an unhealthy path for me. It starts with wanting something someone else has, whether it’s a material thing, an experience, or an accomplishment. It leads to a desire to invalidate that person (embracing a judgmental spirit) or try to one up them in some way (embracing a competitive spirit). And once I’ve acted on that desire, whether in conversation with other people, or even just in my own head, I’ve altered that relationship in an unhealthy way.
I know this is not what God calls me to do. God calls me to be in healthy relationship with others. I realized that this judgmental or competitive spirit was only personifying the entitled pride I had lodged in my heart. For the last couple of years, I’ve turned inward to try to fix myself. I looked to the internet, people in my life, and books to find that magic cure for the insecurity and jealousy in my life, but the reality is that I was doing this self reflection without including God.
Then, this past week, I was led to a verse that made my whole journey with jealousy become clear. In John 21, Jesus is telling Peter the path Peter will take, even predicting the “death by which Peter would glorify God”. And right after that, Peter turns to see John and asks Jesus what will happen to John. In verse 22, Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
If that girl on Facebook announces her pregnancy, what is that to me? I must follow Him. If that Instagram picture pops up of yet another perfect looking family outing, what is that to me? I must follow Him. If someone buys a new house, new car, if they go on expensive trips or give all their time to the homeless, what is that to me? I must follow Him.
I decided to try something to help remind me of this bigger picture. Whenever I see good things or bad things happening in my life or the lives of people around me, instead of trying to figure out how they connect to me (and ultimately lead me, at times, down a path of jealousy), I want to see how these thing connect to the story of God.
So, before I go on social media, or head into an interaction in person or on the phone or through text, I will intentionally stop and pray that God guide my heart and eyes to what I will witness in that interaction. When I do find out news, good or bad, I will write down (either physically or mentally) three things I see God doing in that person’s life. When I feel that pit-of-my-stomach jealousy coming, I will add two more things to the list. Then, I will pray for guidance from God on any further steps I need to take (like share a word of encouragement or support to that person). And then let that jealousy go, embracing that I am a broken person redeemed by Jesus.
This is a tough one for me. I know I will fail at times and forget, but I want to keep trying. I’m so thankful for the grace that God extends all of us. And I am so thankful that each of you are walking this journey with me.