We recently visited a Japanese inspired restaurant in our city that not only gives trainer chopsticksbut serves green tea and hot cocoa at the end of the meal.
After dinner the waiter presented our four older boys with a steaming cup of hot cocoa in an adorable porcelain cup. For reasons I do not need to list, he chose not to give our youngest son a cup.
In approximately 0.4 seconds the entire restaurant knew that our boys had been given something the baby brother had not. The tears started to flow and the deafening sobs echoed throughout the room.
My heart raced and my cheeks flushed with embarrassment as I imagined the other parents glaring at me with disapproval. I
quietly growled at the baby in my mean mommy voice while donning a forced smile tried to settle him down but nothing worked. The waiter realized the situation and rushed over with a cup of cocoa and the weeping and gnashing of teeth tears ceased.
Riding home that evening I thought about the fact that my heart can be equally as grimy when I don’t get what I want…and even more so when someone else does. And though I may not scream and cry in the middle of a quiet restaurant, if my thoughts were displayed for the world to see, it wouldn’t always be a pretty picture.
It’s hard when things don’t go like we’d hoped but we all experience it, in one way or another.
- Someone else got chosen for the job you desperately wanted.
- You’ve tried incessantly to get pregnant and another friend posted a sonar pic announcing her pregnancy.
- You’ve been a bridesmaid so many times you could open a store front for gown rental but you’re still single.
- Your friend posted a picture of an epic girls night out…except you weren’t invited.
- You’ve lived in a rental home since day one of your married life and another friend just moved into her dream home.
- You can’t afford to take your family to the beach for the weekend but everyone else is spending two weeks at a five star Disney resort.
- You want to be a stay at home mom and go on playdates with all of your stay at home mommy friends but that just isn’t an option.
- You can’t lose those extra pounds and all your girlfriends are sporting skinny jeans and posting bikini pics on social media.
One of my favorite quotes on the matter is from Lisa Terkeurst.
“But then there were other moments. Hard moments. Moments when I felt my friends’ lives were rushing past me in a flurry of met goals, new opportunities, and affirmations of their callings from God. It seemed like the world was literally passing me by.”
But what I would add to the quote is that at times as I’ve watched “the world pass me by” I’ve grown envious of what God is doing in another’s life. How quickly my sinful flesh wanted to resent another’s success or what someone else had. In a matter of seconds I became completely unaware of all the things I do have because I was blinded by the things I don’t. Instead of celebrating joy in another person’s life the bitter seed of envy took root and caused me to take my eyes off of Christ.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30
Over time I’ve learned to recognize the warning signs in my own heart and developed a plan to turn my heart to God.
First– I search my heart to determine what about the situation is making me jealous. Is it an unfulfilled desire or a sense of entitlement? Does the envy stem from deep rooted fear or a sense of insecurity?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts” Psalm 139:23
Second– I confess my sin & ask for forgiveness.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
Third- I begin to praise God for what He has accomplished in the other person’s life. This part can be initially painful but the act of self discipline can change the focus of my heart almost immediately.
“Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” Isaiah 12:5
Today, let’s not to conceal the presence of envy in our hearts and instead let’s celebrate His faithfulness in our lives and the lives of others.