Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Envy Is SO Last Year

on January 8, 2015
"We Have Feelings" image courtesy of Debspoons/Freedigitalimages.net

“We Have Feelings” image courtesy of Debspoons/Freedigitalimages.net

The Christmas season brought back old memories for me. I remembered being a kid and being so happy about opening my gifts and presents, only to hit a wall of disappointment and sadness if one of my siblings or cousins opened a gift that seemed better than my gifts, which had, only moments before, delighted me.

It seems my nieces and nephews are no different than I was. I, and the other adults in my family, try to be careful to make sure all the gifts we give to the children are special enough to invoke joy, but not so special as to provoke envy.

It also seems that I have not outgrown my envy. This holiday season was wonderful for me. I traveled home and got to spend quality time with my family. I got good grades at the end of the term. I traveled to a conference that confirmed my calling to research and write and teach. My car repairs, though costly, allowed me to keep my car running well, and cost way, way less than a new car would have. I was honored at school, and honored at church. Blessings and joy abounded in my heart.

Then I heard about my roommate’s wonderful prospects with her job hunt. As I celebrated her good fortune, at the same time I began to envy her good fortune with her job search. My heart began to wail and clamor that I, too, wanted a job! How come I am not getting a job like her? It’s not fair, my heart wanted me to think.

This envious response was totally irrational, however. I, in fact, do not want a job after graduation in May. I am not engaged in a job search. I want to enter a Ph.D. program. But even if I were not continuing with school, I still would not be looking for a job. I am pursuing ordination. My career path does not involve a job search. It involves becoming ordained and being appointed by my denominational leaders to serve as a church leader wherever they choose to send me.  I do not “want a job,” the way that my roommate does.  Yet my heart wants to feel cheated.

Where does this envy come from? Where does this drive to compare our gifts, our blessings, our bodies, and our lives, to other people’s come from?

I have decided that this year, when these stealth feelings of envy (and other uncomfortable emotions) pop up, I will recognize them as a plea for me to acknowledge that some part of me is missing out on experiencing God’s love.  That I am trying to gain security or approval or proof of love through some tangible item. This year when I am feeling envy, I plan to regard it as a signal to listen, and then to speak to my soul and remind myself how dearly loved by God I am.

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