Isn’t that always the first thing that women say to themselves or in conversation? You fall out with the little girl on the playground, the other popular girl in high school, the young lady whose path you cross sometimes on the university campus, the lady at the office that is always staring at you- even your friend when the two of you have fallen out. What is it about women where the very first assumption we make after the onset of perceived conflict is that she has to be jealous? Could it be that you’re so familiar with jealousy that it seems only logical to paste the label on someone else? I can almost hear you retort, “I’m not jealous of anyone!!!”
The FACT of the matter is that jealousy rises up in each of us more often than we care to admit. Often times the sting is so subtle and natural that you haven’t really thought to label it. It’s a very common emotional reaction, actually. You know how it is when you’ve been working exhausting hours on a job that “pays the bills” only to get a phone call from your sister friend that she just got a raise? Jealousy disguises itself in the voice that says, “girl, you don’t even work that hard and you’re getting even MORE money- good for youuuu……(knot in the throat, chest tightening). What about the, oh so common very over-worked phrase, “it must be nice….”? There ARE those times when you’re having the usual irritating day and your phone rings, and you don’t want to hear another WONDERFUL thing from your FOREVER CHIPPER friend, while you feel you are barely staying afloat or above a suicidal level. And we say prayers such as “Lord, it isn’t that I don’t want anyone else to have it, but why can’t I have it TOO?” JEALOUSY.
I’m going to venture into the secret place now where only your most embarrassing and unkind truths and God exist. When you’ve been under the assumption that someone’s life was pretty much PERFECT, and you receive and welcome (I might add) news of some flaw, hiccup or misfortune and you notice that slight tinge of relief that their life isn’t that perfect, after all. While you’re in the throws of supporting the sister, friend, associate, there is the hint of reality that you have been jealous of that person. And many of us will feel so guilty about the feeling- that sense of relief, that we tuck it away under mounds of disingenuous and “faithful” support for her during the ordeal. But in our quiet time, that gruesome revelation about ourselves (the fact we felt relief) needs to be confronted. We must hold ourselves accountable. We never address the sting in the stomach area, knot in the throat, chest gripping, sinking feeling manifestations that we are JEALOUS and really feel like yelling, “WHY NOT ME……….TOO?!?!?!?!” Any time we have crossed over into a mode of comparing our ratio of effort and results to that of someone else’s, there is a deep seated envy biting at your soul; a voice crying out in the inner recesses of your being that life is not fair; that you have received less than you deserve. Even when you dare not say it, those thoughts can be likened to a jagged-toothed piranha nipping at your hope.
It is at this time that prayer and meditation are ESSENTIAL. In quiet reflection and awareness, we must leave the door open for the Holy Spirit of God to bring to our attention to the things about ourselves that the chaos of life push to our secret place (Psalm 139:23-24). We have to realize it isn’t that someone’s blessings are eroding our confidence and esteem; it is simply our reaction to their blessings that is the culprit. The same spirit of pride that has us convinced we have less than what we have earned is the same one that drives us to believe any conflict is birthed of jealousy. We ought not to think so highly of ourselves. Has it ever occurred to you that without intention, you caused someone to have a certain perception of you? Maybe that individual isn’t jealous, but you project attitudes or behavior that is less than desirable. It could be ANYTHING. We (women, sisters, girlfriends) need to pull from the very root, the weeds that have sprouted from the seed of competition that was planted in us as little girls. Let’s undo the “once over and compare” glare that comes so naturally when another woman walks into the room. Comparing is the offspring of competition. Let’s learn to celebrate one another’s success without trying to understand the method or circumstances by which someone was favored or blessed. Let’s work on being grateful and content with what we have and not insult God by being a bitter hostage to another person’s “green grass”. Finally, let’s trust in His sovereignty and ability. He knows us and how and when to bless each one of us. She probably isn’t jealous of you and you need to stop forcing unhealthy competition with her. May this message be CLEAR: Seek first to understand what is really going on with you.