Jealousy That Eats Away Our Spirits

Can you see the beauty in others? Can you celebrate that beauty, or does it fill you with envy?
We as humans can fall into the habit of comparing ourselves with our fellow beings and can become consumed with a jealousy that festers away at our spirits without us even realizing it's happening. It makes us miserable, and steals the joy from our lives.

One thing that has helped me overcome my jealousy is a question I ask myself when I'm tempted to talk about someone in a way that's not uplifting. Am I speaking this way because I'm jealous of this person? Do I feel I have to make myself look better by putting them down? Am I trying to tear them down because there's some aspect of them I don't like? It's been said that what bugs you about others is what you most dislike about yourself. This one usually gets me in the gut.

I have been blessed with good friends who are happy with themselves and can therefore be happy for others. What a wonderful thing! Why shouldn't we be happy for each other? We can share each other's burdens, so let's also share each other's joys, too! The opportunities for jealousy--and for joy--pop up every day. How will we handle it when:

 An acquaintance builds a beautiful new home;
A close friend starts eating healthy, working out, and looking great;
A cousin has an unplanned pregnancy, and it seems unfair because you can't conceive;
A friend finds the perfect guy for her and talks about him all the time;
A loved one takes a dream vacation to Hawaii and posts pictures on Facebook, tempting you to hide them from your newsfeed;
A person wins a prize or award that you think is undeserved;
A co-worker receives a promotion or a raise--and you didn't.
It's a neverending list.

For me, the jealousy starts long before the situation presents itself. What am I feeding my soul? Am I comparing myself with others instead of being secure in who I am? Am I concentrating on how unfair life is? Or am I listening, seeing, reading the Word to inspire my own soul? What goes in really has to come back out, so I think its good for us to check ourselves. What drives you? What influences me? Who is in our company daily?

People will often say to me, "You just seem like you have the perfect little family." Why do they feel that way? Because of what I choose to share on social media. I don't intend to portray my life as perfect, but neither do I want to publish my family's dirty laundry to become fodder for people who have less-than-honorable intentions.

I like to be an inspiration to others, to share my colorful days and God's beauty through the pictures I take. Those who know me personally know the struggles I face--kids going through different stages in life, friendships destroyed through jealousy, weaknesses in marriage due to stress, money struggles due to mismanagement and wrong choices. My life is not perfect, but whose is? Through my photographs, I can focus on the beauty that exists and share that beauty with others. 

Then again, I have been so blessed that I can honestly say in my heart that I do feel like I have the perfect little family. Perfect for me! And while I know I will be given many more challenges in this life, I know I cannot expect to improve my character if I'm not stretched and challenged.

Each of us falls into the trap of comparison and jealousy for a reason. Let's take time to consider why that might be: 

Parents we could never please;
Hurt from a wound that happened during high school;
A spouse who doesn't treat you with respect;
A betrayal that happened during childhood and remains a secret today;
Feeling like you're slowly dying on the inside while the world keeps spinning.

We each have our own hurts to identify and work on daily. I'm still working on mine!

I hope this blog will inspire you to find a good group of friends who will love you the way you are. Write down your past hurts, and hand them over to Jesus, especially if you've tried fixing them yourself and it didn't work. Check yourself in the middle of gossip or jealousy and ask, "Why is this important?"
Next time you see someone in that brand new car you think you deserved, tell them how you wish you were able to afford that car, but you think they deserve it and you're happy for them. And mean it!
What goes around comes around, doesn't it? So love others unconditionally!!!

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