I want to be honest, I do. I want to write something that comes deep from within me. It’s hard though, it’s hard to admit things to myself. So while I am writing this to help others become aware of something that may be keeping them from happiness, I am also making a confession.
Ok to be honest I don’t know when it started, probably I’ve always had this in my life, it was there from the very beginning, threatening my happiness. You may not have this in your life, though I think everyone battles with it at some point. I am still struggling with it a little, but the wonderful reality is God has taken it almost completely out of my life, and he continues to show me areas that I need to work on. But realizing it was in my life, was huge. Being aware of it and what it does to me has completely changed my thinking. I feel freer to love myself and others as a result. Happiness killer number one: jealousy. Ha! You think, “I don’t struggle with this” and like you I honestly thought I was innocent of it. However, on closer examination of myself, the root cause of quite a bit of my unhappiness and negative thinking is in fact, jealousy.
James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice.”
James 4:2 2 “You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God].”
Ok, both verses seem harsh, but they aren’t far off from our culture today. America is a breeding ground for jealousy. I can think of a few commercials off the top of my head that glorify jealousy and envy. I think of the unrestful and dissatisfied lives many Americans lead (not excluding myself). I am not judging America though, because I’ve got my hands full with myself.
Jealousy has led me to do things that are against my personality. I love people. I love people so much I would much rather hurt myself than someone else. If someone I know is in emotional pain, my worst fear ever would be that I caused it. That’s why gossip has always made me uncomfortable. I hate it. What I hate even more than gossip is the possibility that the direct recipient of the gossip would somehow find out I took part in it. Knowing I have the potential to crush someone’s feelings just by gossiping…it’s scares me.
So a few years ago, when at work I found myself talking about certain co-workers with other co-workers, I was somewhat alarmed. Eventually though, I got used to it, and there were many times if I wasn’t talking about certain people at work I was thinking about them. Believe it or not, I didn’t even think about the fact that I was thinking about them. Things like “I bet she doesn’t even work as hard as I do, or she doesn’t know what she is doing, I could do a better job.” (And those were the polite thoughts, I am not gonna tell you the mean ones I had, and yes they were mean.)
The most difficult thing about these thoughts I had about others, was that it motivated me to work ridiculous hours, hoping to keep up and prove myself. Jealousy is a happiness killer. It plays a huge roll in killing happiness at work, and in life in general.
Jealousy destroys your happiness, and in order to be free from it, you have to understand the root cause of it. I think for me, the root cause of jealousy, at least in certain situations, is not being content with myself.
If you know you are doing your best at something, than that should be enough for you. You should be content with yourself no matter how others are doing. You can always be open to learning how to do something better, but you don’t have to be unhappy with your best effort. So for example in my job, I shouldn’t need praise (even though it’s nice to have), or a promotion, to be content with myself at work. If I had been content with my best efforts at my job jealousy would never have been an issue.
In fact, the reason I even became aware that I was not happy with myself, is only because God pointed that out to me, and thankfully he did it before my season at this particular job was over. My self-worth at my job that was once filled with doubt was filled with peace, and that peace was only from God. People didn’t all of a sudden start realizing how wonderful I was doing at my job. And left to my own mind the jealousy would have become worse. I would have had more negative thoughts and would have continued to tear others down by gossiping. But thankfully, again, God changed my attitude and gave me peace. The circumstances didn’t change, my attitude changed.
Before God made me aware of the problem, my jealousy had really started to overwhelm me. The stress and the pressure became unbearable because I was constantly comparing myself to other co-workers and still, was not hearing or seeing from others that I was doing a good job. Even if you are dealing with just a little bit of jealousy, it can easily spiral out of control.
So here is my conclusion. If you are confident in the job you are doing (maybe it’s not a job, it could be a relationship, or a hobby, or something else) then you are less likely to allow jealousy into that area of your life. But if there is an area of your life that you are less confident about, and you constantly need to seek others approval to feel like you have what it takes, or are doing a good job, then be careful. Jealousy is not far from you. Anytime you feel like your worth depends on the opinions of others, then you may succumb to tearing others down in order to build yourself back up. The truth is if you are tearing yourself down, then chances are you will need to tear others down because of it. It becomes a cycle. If anyone else is successful (or appears successful) and you don’t feel successful, you are vulnerable to succumbing to jealousy and I think for females especially, you will turn to gossiping.
Truth, being content with yourself has less to do with you actually being successful, because there are different definitions of success, but it is all in your view of your being successful. If you view yourself as unsuccessful, even when others might view you as successful, you might tend to become jealous of anyone else who gets a promotion or is what you consider “successful”.
Jealousy steals your happiness. What should be your happiness, is instead wrapped up in someone else’s circumstances so that your happiness actually no longer depends on your success, but on other peoples failures. Let me say that again, jealousy causes your happiness to depend on other peoples’ failures, instead of your own successes.
I will put it this way, if you find yourself secretly happy that someone else has failed at something, then you are tied up by jealousy. You cannot possibly be free to love yourself and others if the only way you can be happy, is if someone else fails. It may not actually be that black and white for you. As long as you are the one getting the praise or promotions then you stay happy and don’t need other people to fail, but as soon as you stop getting what you want, if even a small amount of happiness comes to you by watching someone else fail, then jealousy is still alive and well within you. Don’t let that be the case. Don’t let jealousy kill your happiness.
You can be a very happy person and still have a bit of jealousy in your life. You are a complicated being. You might have a wonderful happy experience at work and you might be completely satisfied there, and then when it comes to a relationship or a family situation, you might be very unhappy. Or it could be the reverse. Chances are if you have allowed a bit of jealousy into any one part of your life, then be aware it can creep into other parts of your life.
So, once you realize jealousy is alive in a certain area of your life, what can you do? You can ask God to take it away. Sit down, talk to him, write it down. Write down that you want to be free from jealousy. Ask God to point out any area of your life that it controls. Believe it or not that is all I did. He did all the work, I didn’t do anything, I just kept praying to be free. God has done the rest of the work. It did take me listening to him. But when someone loves you so much, that He can tell you how to change in such an amazing loving way, it’s easy to listen. It’s easy to obey, especially when it makes you that much more content and joyful.
I havne’t gone back, I haven’t relapsed, I no longer have to say something bad about somebody else to feel better about myself. I won’t lie though, sometimes those same jealous thoughts creep in and threaten my happiness. I’ve learned to pray against them and ask God to take those thoughts as soon as I have them. This may sound a little weird, but if you have jealous thoughts apologize to yourself, and to God for them. The reason you need to apologize to yourself is because if you are jealous of something that someone else has, you are saying to yourself that you aren’t enough right now. You are enough! God made you whole and complete! You do not need a different talent, or a boyfriend, or a baby, or a better career, or a different body, or to be taller, or shorter, you do not need something someone else has in order to be a happier person.
Love yourself, love the good and the bad. Ask God to help you be content with yourself but to help you become a better person throughout your life. God will love you through those things, but you have to learn to love yourself. We can all be better, and it doesn’t mean you stop working on being a better person, it just means you allow God to do the work and this allows peace and contentment in your life. It means you don’t beat yourself up over the negative things, you give those things to God and ask him to change them. Believe it or not He will help you. The burden was never yours to carry, it was always Gods. And giving him those things in your life that weigh you down, like jealousy, actually frees you up to love yourself and others better. Which is the whole point. Praying for you to live a free and abundant life in Christ!