A few months back, in the span of one week, two kids I used to babysit got engaged, my younger cousin had a baby, and another young friend got married. For the past couple of years, almost every bridal and baby shower I’ve attended has been for someone who’s significantly younger than me.
There was a time in my life when that would’ve really bothered me. I would’ve struggled with feelings of jealousy.
Jealousy’s the worst. I’ve been the target of it, and I’ve been the jealous one, too. No matter what side of it you’re on, it never leads to anything life-giving or good. It’s divisive, unhealthy, evil, and hurtful. It lies and wounds and destroys and kills.
Though jealousy still tries to rear its ugly head in my life on occasion, it’s become less of a battle for me over the years. Not because I’m so incredible, but because I’ve slowly gained new understanding about how God sees me, what his truth is, and how to better counteract jealousy’s lies with that truth instead of falling for everything it tries to sell me.
I’ve heard it said that we usually get most jealous of the things we want most. For me, that has always been motherhood and all its predecessors – a relationship, engagement, and marriage. Oh, and the stunning supermodel-esque beauty I always assumed these steps required.
In my younger years, I used to get pretty jealous of others – especially those particularly gorgeous people who never had a single zit or a bad hair day in their lives – who were in relationships, because I’d always been single. I’ve still always been single! Ha. I always hoped I’d get married young, so when I was nearing the end of college, had never been asked out once, and saw a new engagement announcement every time I logged into Facebook, it stung a bit. Even when I was genuinely excited for those couples, satan whispered his lies: They’re better than you. Nobody will ever pick you. Nobody wants you. You’re probably gonna be single forever. You’re not good enough to be chosen by the kind of guy you want, anyway.
The voice seemed to have a point. Nobody had ever picked me, so maybe I was defective! I figured I must not be that valuable, because nobody else sure seemed to think so! Most of the male species didn’t even seem to notice I existed.
Lots of my friends had successful relationships that led to engagements and marriages. Even some of the most unlikely candidates and the ones who claimed they’d never get married were walking down the aisle! (Probably because they’re prettier than me, I rationalized.) Yet there I was, eternally single.
At some point, I had a realization that changed my perspective:
I don’t want someone else’s relationship, so I don’t need to be jealous of them.
It’s really that simple.
I don’t want somebody else’s relationship. I want MINE. I want the one God has for me. I might admire a friend’s story, but her Mr. Right is my Mr. Wrong, so there’s no need for me to be jealous. I can celebrate her and know my day is coming, too.
Why would I be jealous of someone else’s story when mine will be the best one for me? Just as none of my friends would say they’d rather have my life story, I don’t want theirs, either.
I’m happy for them. Their stories are inspiring, and testimony is the spirit of prophecy. But I want the narrative God has uniquely written for me, not a copy of someone else’s. I know that, without a doubt, by the time I finally make it down the aisle, I will never wish God had given me someone else’s story instead of the one he wrote just for me.
Not a chance!
So if I don’t want other people’s relationships…why would I be jealous of them?
The day I realized the wisdom behind that question was the day I, for the most part, stopped becoming jealous of other people finding their happily-ever-afters.
I began to identify the lies for what they are: LIES. No matter what the enemy tries to tell you, you ARE lovable. You ARE valuable. You are NOT forgotten or overlooked. God DOES have good plans for you, and he knows the desires of your heart!
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4 ESV
Satan only whispers the lies because he wants to convince us we can’t ever have what God intends for us to have. He wants to keep us out of God’s good plans for us by getting us to partner with his lies.
I love how Susie Larson points out the following: “Do remember that what we notice in others is something that we already possess to some degree – or at least have the potential to – both positively and negatively.”
Those areas where you struggle with jealousy? They’re probably the exact areas God wants to bless you in. They could even be the exact areas people already admire you in! I have often found this to be true – we really do tend to be our own worst critics. Be patient, stay faithful, and know that the best part of your story is still being written.
When you think of how unique you and your story are, and when you realize just how detailed and loving God truly is when it comes to you – his beloved child – there’s really no reason to be envious of others. Celebrate with those who are celebrating, and I’d wager they’ll return the favor when it’s your turn.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.Romans 12:15 NIV
Take heart! Your day is coming.