Envy: Devoured From the Inside Out

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I watch her fingers glide over the keys as carelessly as the breeze gently bending the tall grass. She doesn’t even look at the piano keyboard yet her hands move surely and confidently and the notes that spill out speak of her God-given talent. It’s very natural for her and I’d bet she doesn’t have to think too much about where her fingers should go next. I watch and am awed…and something else.

Her house is lovely! It’s spacious and well decorated: a place for everything and everything in its place. She seems to instinctively know what a room needs to make it comfortable and yet beautiful. And it smells so nice! Plus she can really cook. She has a way of putting flavors together that rivals the legendary Julia Child, but somehow her kitchen never gets dirty. I love to visit her home…but there’s something else too.

Her voice is a symphony of praise all by itself. She sings with poise and perfection – no stumbles or bad pitch to be heard.   The air shimmers with what sounds like it could be the voice of an angel. The notes linger and I feel the rightness of it all speak to my heart and I’m stunned…and something else.

I love her dress! It’s colorful and fun and looks great on her. She has such a sense of style that I imagine she must wake up every morning already put together. Her hair and makeup are flawless – no wonder she has a smile from ear to ear and moves with such confidence! When I stand in front of my closet and wait for inspiration to strike, all I hear are crickets. I watch her walk by and am impressed…and something else.

I read her blog post and the words just seemed to flow. The message was clear and the delivery was like poetry, words fitting together seamlessly in ways I had never heard before. I could feel my soul agreeing with everything she said, and I must not be the only one because that post is going viral. I’m touched by her words…and something else.

Her kids are always so well behaved! They use their manners and they always look neat, with nice (and modest) clothing and clean, brushed hair. They sit quietly in church and actually seem to listen to the sermon. They get good grades in school and are excellent athletes and leaders, and they always seem to be winning some award or other. I’m happy for her…but there’s something else.

She’s got a great job and a beautiful home. She’s worked hard to get where she is and it is clearly paying off. She trades cars every two years and takes fantastic vacations with her family to places I’ve always dreamed of visiting, and I know this because of the pictures she posts on social media. Furthermore, people really seem to like and respect her. I do too…and something else.

The “something else” is this: I want to be her. I want what she has.

Envy. Jealousy. The green-eyed monster. I am all too familiar with it. It’s eating me up from the inside out.

It always seems to be lurking around every corner, tarnishing my view of the world.

Why is it so difficult to remember that she is she and I am I? Why can’t I just be content with God’s design for me and my life?

It’s hard to watch other people do and be the very thing that I wish I was, and do it so well. That’s one part of it.

Another part is that when I see beauty, I’m attracted to it and want to be as close to it as possible or better yet, be a part of it myself.

And don’t we all want to be seen, known, recognized, appreciated? I know I do.

So many times I am unsure of my own talents – am I good enough? Is this what I’m meant to do? What if I’m supposed to be doing something else and I missed my chance at it? Am I wasting my life?

But each one of us has been created in God’s image, with unique gifting that defines who we are in Him. Longing to be like someone else effectively wastes my talents in an attempt to copy what someone else has. My purpose is dying on the vine while I sit around comparing myself to everyone I see.

I don’t think that’s how He meant it to be.

I believe God created us to be in community and being in community means working together, not competing with each other. There are enough gifts and talents to go around. God didn’t skip any one of us. Yes, you read that right: we are all gifted. And like parts of the body we have different functions and must work together. Comparing my own function as a, say, hand, to another person’s job as a kidney is just ridiculous.

If you want to sing/play/write, etc. but don’t feel like you have a natural gift, you can always take lessons and practice. The world needs good and good enough musicians and artists and writers too. You might just be the one whose words touch someone’s heart, even if those words are clumsy. (Also? Perfection is a myth. Strive for your best but don’t be so hard on yourself that you can’t accept good enough for right now.)

Personally I find that jealousy most often rears its ugly head when I am not taking the time to nurture my own talents and passions. When I make time to write or sing or create it’s much easier to clap for my friends and cheer them on because I feel like part of a team instead of an outsider looking on.

Maybe you’re not sure of where your talents and gifts lie. There are online spiritual gifts inventories that might give you some ideas. Or ask someone who knows you to tell you some things you do well. You might just find out that other people are envying your talents.

And if you find yourself in the unenviable position of resenting another’s place in the Kingdom, just remember what my grandmother used to say: Tend to your own knitting. Pay more attention to what YOU are doing and less to what others do. One day you will stand before God and account for the tools He has given you, not what He’s given Sister Susie down the street.

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3 thoughts on “Envy: Devoured From the Inside Out

  1. I am so thankful that God has given each of us different talents that we can use to show His glory and His love. I have wondered if I have any talents, then, I remember that I am His child and that is more special than anything. 🙂

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