I was listening to a popular podcast by Jeff and Beth McCord on parenting, and at the end of the session, Jeff referenced some books by people he respects that have helped give insight into parenting. And one name grabbed me. Oh my word, I know that name! They used to attend our church. They’ve been in our home. I look up the book(s) and the thriving ministry behind this family. They live in a booming metropolitan area, have been featured on tv and podcasts and are doing what they love. They have numerous degrees, three kids, a lovely home, and might I mention, perfect smiles. I am amazed at what all they’ve accomplished in a short amount of time. And then it hits me: a green haze.
I do a quick internal analysis. Yes, I know comparison kills, but I’m throwing myself a pity party, so be quiet or go home. My books have a total of 17 reviews. Many of the people I gifted books to didn’t give me any feedback, positive or negative (what does that say about what they thought of my text?) I got asked to step down from Bible-study leading. I write a blog few people read. I don’t own a home. I can’t seem to get through to my kids. Four failed LLC’s say I don’t know how to make a business thrive. And I am turning 40 this year.
Marci Ferrell, the Thankful Homemaker, says that “usually there are two conditions that tempt us to envy. First, we tend to envy those with whom we most closely identify. Second, we tend to envy in the areas we value most. At the root of jealousy is this belief that God is holding out on us and what He has for others He won’t give us. “
I can’t even type that previous line without tearing up. The questions emerge, “God, are you still there? Do you even see me? And if so, do you care? Why do I seem to see failure instead of success? Why can others succeed and minister and help and reach their community and I just feel like the unwanted stepchild who has nothing much to offer?”
“If we are to successfully combat the temptations to envy and jealousy, we must mentally bring God into the picture. We must remind ourselves that He determines not only what abilities we have but also the degree of those abilities and the blessing He will bestow on their use.” Jerry Bridges
So, I bring God into it, because news flash here: He’s already seeing it anyway. Yeah, I can pretend I’m not frustrated with Him and myself, or I can be honest and deal with my resentment and jealousy.
I can’t say Philippians 4:12 without lying right now, but I want to get there. I really do. I have to first acknowledge some things to myself.
- God determines how I best glorify Him, not me. I may have the “perfect” strategies and dreamed-out plans for life on mission and know exactly how my talents and personality should be utilized, but I am not lord of my life anymore.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Prov. 16:9 Sometimes He uses our strengths and sometimes our weaknesses to point others back to Him. When we don’t see what He is doing through us, often times it is for our own protection against a prideful heart.
- God has called me to give Him all glory and honor, and I certainly don’t do that when I am living with a jealous and bitter heart. The irony of the dilemma that screams, “God, I wanted to do more for you than I am, so now I am going to get my grump on and shake my fist in frustration.” How convicting.
- God does not want me to stop doing the little just because I can’t conquer the big. Oh, how my macro-vision struggles with this perspective so many times. Just because no one follows me on social media, I don’t lead a thriving women’s ministry or grace the cover of Relevant doesn’t mean that I’m not doing good work in my spheres. I am still called to answer my children with truth and grace and lead them in discipleship. I am still called to exercise my patience muscles and finish my tasks. I am still here to listen to friends and reach out with encouragement and prayer. I am not buying and selling vineyards, but I can be a Proverbs 31 woman.
- Satisfaction in life is found in HIM, not in my dream-list going well. My accomplishments–no matter how gold-tinted they are with spiritualty–are not going to bring me deep satisfaction. My relationships, accolades, degrees, financial gains, or possessions will not merit true peace or contentment. My heart will only ever rest in Him. And as my momma says, “Either He’s enough or He’s not, but circumstances don’t change that.”
Jennifer Rothschild encourages with this: “Maybe your past and your present have been hard—and, because of that, the future scares you. It feels uncertain and unknown. But, sister, you can trust God with all things, including your future. He knows what tomorrow holds and His plans for you are for your good and His glory. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
If someone is leaving you behind, and you are becoming jealous and embittered, keep praying that he may have success in the very matter where he is awakening your envy; and whether he is helped or not, one thing is sure, that your own soul will be cleansed and ennobled. –William Law
I know it’s not easy. But I also know that envy holds nothing for us. It’s a putrid sin that will rot the bones (Prov. 14:30). I am writing to say, “It is ugly. And I am guilty of it.” Confession is good for the soul. When sin leaves us dry, repentance leads us back to the Living Water.
Lord, I acknowledge that I have turned covetous eyes toward others. I have allowed selfishness, pride, and envy to eat away at my heart. I have not seen others as you see them–including myself–and I have put accomplishments and desires ahead of your purposes. Please forgive me for the inner strife and bitterness. Forgive me for thinking of myself more highly than I ought to. Forgive me for a spirit of entitlement and for longing after that which You did not desire to give me. Show me a better way. Help me to walk humbly with you in spirit and truth, pointing all back to you. All for your glory and your good, Lord. Bless and uphold those who carry microphones in the spotlight for You. Help them to be used for Your glory. You are good and your plans are perfect. You are trustworthy and worthy of all praise. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
I Timothy 6:6-7, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
It all begins and ends with Him and for Him.