Can I take a moment and speak honestly? I am at a dry place, spiritually. (And in my writing, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) This is recent. Like in the last month (as opposed to the writing slump which has been going on for 9 months now). And maybe my spiritual slump has to do with my writing slump. And then it turns into a catch-22.
I love God. Don’t get me wrong. I just feel blah when it comes to praying or having a quiet time.
Why do I tell you this? So you’ll know this post comes from a place of dryness in me. Maybe I started this series six months ago because God knew I would need this one this month. Who knows?
So off we go…
Love is not envious or jealous. Most translations choose one of these two words. So, what do they mean? Of course, we’ve all heard of envy and jealousy, but let’s be clear before we move on.
Jealous, according to dictionary.com is:
- feeling resentment against someone because of another’s success, advantage, etc. characterized by or proceeding from suspicious fears or envious resentment
- inclined to or troubled by suspicions or fears of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc.
- solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something
- Bible. intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry
Envy is much like it:
- a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
So why is love not jealous or envious?
I think it has more to do with who you are than what someone owns, who that person is, or what advantages the person has compared to yours.
Are you content with __________ (insert family, job, home, whatever)? Are you always trying to keep up with someone who you think has more?
They might have more, but why? Are they mortgaged so much that they’ll never pay it off? Is their marriage in trouble? Is he or she a workaholic and never home to enjoy the things you are envious of?
And before you answer those questions, remember this: You do NOT know what goes on behind closed doors. You do not know if the “face” they put on for you and everyone else is just that — a face, a mask of prosperity. In fact, they could be about to lose their home and family.
Are you still envious? Do you really have a reason to be?
At one point in my life, I’m sure I felt envy. I don’t remember for sure, but knowing myself, I figure I did.
My dad and mom separated when I was 14. Mom worked hard to provide, but it was difficult. She didn’t have a college education; I’m not even sure she graduated high school. For most of my life, she worked in factories — first, at GE when they still made TVs with picture tubes (LOL), and then at Ford. For a while, she was a seamstress. None of those jobs paid a lot.
We did without a lot of things. I couldn’t do a lot of things because we didn’t have the money. At times, we even went without a telephone. She always made sure I had adequate food and clothes.
But I looked at my friends (you know, the part that I could see), and saw two loving parents, nice clothes, cars to drive, a nice house, etc., etc., etc. I wanted what they had.
I was envious. And I’m sure it came out in how I acted around them. I haven’t asked them, and I don’t know what they would answer, but how could it not?
Now, as then, I have everything I need. Maybe I don’t have the nicest house or the newest car, but I have a family that loves me, a roof over my head, and food in my belly. I don’t need to keep up with my neighbors. Nor do they need to keep up with me.
Paul’s words in Philippians come to mind. Phil. 4:11-12, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (ESV, emphasis mine)
Love means we are happy that other people are able to have what they have, and WE are content with what we have. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive to better ourselves, but we don’t STRIVE for it by any means necessary.
So, how does this apply to me? What is God teaching me today?
I need to be happy for my fellow writers as they have multi-thousand word days, publish multiple books, or experience wondrous sales. I need to LOVE that they are succeeding. Their success does nothing to hinder mine, so there’s no reason to be envious or jealous. I don’t what they had to do to get where they are. I don’t know about their sacrifices or their struggles.
Life is work. It’s hard. It’s not always fair — well, let’s be honest, from our limited perspective, it’s rarely fair. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find the joy of the Lord, no matter our circumstances.
The verse following the above section is one most, if not all, of us know by heart. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Whether in want or in plenty, I can be content.
So what does someone else have that you wish you had? Be honest. It’s okay. We’ve all been there. What you (and I) need to do is GIVE those things to the Lord and work toward contentment and being thankful for that which we DO have.
Luke 16:10, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
Be faithful in the little.
If you haven’t read parts one through five, here are the links:
Love is… Part 1
Love is… Part 2
Love is… Part 3
Love is… Part 4
Love is… Part 5
Hi Ginger, thanks for such an honest post. I love the thought of contentment vs envy/jealousy, of them being opposites. I struggle sometimes when I feel I am not recognised for the work I do, while others are publicly acknowledged. That can lead to me feeling envious, discontented! It is then I need to stop and ask God to remind me of all the many blessings in my life, and focus on the big picture, God’s picture and my place in it.
Blessings Ginger, one day at a time:)
Thanks, Wemble. It is hard to see others get ahead, and sometimes on your hard work. But God sees, and He has a plan. And I know that whatever it is, it is for our best. Keep taking the next step.
Hi Ginger! Thanks for sharing and reminding us to be content. We can do all things through Christ, who strengths us. In my prayers. Ginger, may God grant you the story and words to write it. As women, we struggle in our personal, family, and professional lives. Sometimes, we have to let go and let God work in our lives.
I agree, Renate. It is so hard, though.
I wrote this post late last week, but Saturday morning, I woke up with a story (dreams are my usual way of getting story ideas). I’ve been fleshing it out in my head the whole weekend. I got up this morning and typed some preliminary paragraphs. I like it.
God is good, even when I don’t understand His ways.
Thanks for sharing your feelings. I have gotten jealous/envious at times, mostly when it comes to work. I’ve applied for jobs and no one accepted me while my former co-workers gets the job that they applied for. Then months later they tell me how they hated it even though the pay is great. It makes me reevaluate my thinking and asked God to continue to guide me towards his purpose for me. I no longer feel that emotion towards anyone because we don’t know what’s going on in other people’s life.
So true, Colleen. From the outside, everything may seem awesome, but we never know what’s going on in that person’s mind or life.
As I said in another comment, even when we don’t understand, God always has our BEST in mind.
Margaret Nelson says
Thanks for sharing from your heart!
You’re welcome, Margaret. I try to be transparent with my problems, so others know they are not alone in whatever they’re going through.
Kimberly Rose Johnson says
Excellent post, Ginger. Thank you.
Valerie Comer says
Hugs, prayers, and empathy. I love you, you know that?
Back at ya, my friend. Thank you.
Jackie Smith says
Thanks for sharing, Ginger. I am sure all of us have these feeling at some time in our life! Blessings~~~~
Yes, we do, Jackie. That’s one of the reasons I share a lot of my struggles (and my victories), so others who are going through something, even if it’s not similar, don’t feel alone.
Iola Goulton (@IolaGoulton) says
This is such an encouraging post (you might not have thought that when you wrote it, but it is). Thank you.
Thank you, Iola. It’s hard to know if my woes and struggles are of any value. It seems like I’m posting a lot of negatives lately, but I truly believe it is only a season and something wonderful is just around the corner. I can’t wait to see what it is. :)
I had started to become jealous of another couple in our church who seemed like God gave them whatever they prayed for. I did rant & rave to God and asked him why do they get these things when it’s something I’ve been praying for for a long time? (Aren’t you glad God is so patient and long-suffering with us?) It was like a weed that started to grow a root in my heart. Well, I knew I wasn’t suppose to be jealous or envious and I was being very human in my response. I really struggled with this for a while until I just knew it would cause hard feelings and I didn’t want that…at all! So I asked God to help me & He began to show me things I needed to see. And He told me I needed to pray for them every time I started feeling jealous. So I did, soon I felt less and less envious and my heart softened. I no longer feel that way towards them and I give God all the credit due Him for it. The wife shared some things with me and I understood that things weren’t all they seemed on the outside. Like you said, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. I understand now why God had me pray for them & knowing what I know now, I can be more specific in those prayers. :-)
Again with the comments cutting off on me…so annoying! I can’t post a long comment at all anymore, it’s weird!
Anyway, my last thought was this:
I think when we CHOSE to do away with those feelings and not let it grow root in our heart attitudes, God can begin to move in ways we didn’t even see. :-) And forge stronger bonds with our fellow Christian friends.
That is so AWESOME, Trixi. Thanks for sharing. You had/have such a willing heart toward God. I’m sure He was pleased with your response in this situation. And like the verse says (I’m too lazy this early in the AM to look it up, so this is a paraphrase), God always provides a way out of temptation/sin. For you (and probably for all of us in situations like this) it was prayer.
Wow. I needed that this morning. :D