So due a series of unfortunate events, I haven’t got a jealous bone in my body. I mention this series of unfortunate events least you think this is some great declaration of virtue. Or perhaps something akin to spiritual fruit bragging?
Actually it was just brokenness, deep wounding, and that little module that is supposed to come on as you grow, just shut down and atrophied. I vaguely recall seeing and smelling the dreaded blue smoke that wisps out the back of all electronics when they just bite the dust….
So, for much of my life I just had a real blind spot. I didn’t get it. I didn’t even see it. It did not even exist. We think of things like envy, jealousy, coveting, comparison as being negatives, burdens, sin, and they often are. But when you haven’t got them, you begin to appreciate the value of them more. Or at least the value of the untarnished root beneath them.
The untarnished root beneath these thieves actually makes us competitive, motivates us to strive, helps us to dream. God gave us things like perseverance, admiration, competitiveness, longing, and the secret desires in our heart. We are the ones who perverted these things and now often make them look dark and unhealthy.
Competitiveness can be a really good thing, it can motivate you to strive and to dream, to take risks, the healthy kind, to work harder and to get better. Also, there is nothing more fun then a good game of softball or a rambunctious pillow fight! In our modern world of participation trophies and mandated equality, we’ve tried to erase competitiveness, the good root, in the hopes that the perversions of that would be removed, too. But at what cost? As people are now beginning to see, it just doesn’t work that way. If everyone is going to get an A+ regardless of effort, skill, or participation, then effort, skill, and participation, no longer have any value, and these things fall away, too.
“Elitism” has come to be a bad word, an accusation, but I am always reminded nobody ever goes to the medicore surgeon, the C student. You have a fire at your house, you don’t want a rag tag bunch to show up, you want the best, the elite.
“Jealously” for example, in God’s hands, when Holy, untainted, pure, is a good thing, it benefits us. “He is jealous for you,” meaning He’ll leave the 99 just to come and rescue you. “Keep your eyes on Him” and Him alone, for your own benefit, because when all else falls away, He remains constant, steadfast. He is our rock, our foundation in which to rest.
Jealousy in the hands of people is NOT so pretty. It is often tainted and ugly. People stab one another. Cain bashed his brother’s head in. If we aren’t literally murdering one another, we are murdering one another’s souls. Somebody wise once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” So we become miserable, insecure, threatened, and joyless.
Something we tend to envy a lot is power. Money and wealth represent power, good looks and youth represent power, social status and talent is about power. The question then becomes, why are we all such a powerless people? The Lord operates on abundance, plenitude, there is more than enough to go around, but we people tend to get trapped in a scarcity mindset, as if to say, there is not enough power to go around. We tend to covet what we believe we don’t have, what we think is not available to us because someone else is hogging it all. That’s usually a deception, a lie.
The Disciples of Christ Himself had a great argument about who got to go first, who was greater. Our human brains just have a hard time understanding abundance, grasping that there is more than enough to go around. Fishes and loaves.
Something else that these thieves of comparison can teach us is some social skills! You may laugh if you like, but I also had a piece missing that caused a kind of social ineptness. Bit of a joke here, but my husband would tease me about just finding a new, young, rich wife, and I soon discovered that my praise and encouragement was not the response he was craving. Long term marriage joke, but do not just start singing “free at last, free at last” and drag out the suitcases for them….
I can laugh about such things today, but hubby and I once had an argument about this very thing and I was blind as a bat. He accused me of not caring and I was like, of course I care, I’d probably even be sad……for the poor woman who now has to put up with you. It cracks me up today how that sounds so snarky, but in truth at the time there was no guile, no understanding at all. Jealousy, envy, coveting did not even exist in my line of vision. Also, I was a real fatalist, so I presumed most likely I would suffer either way, so whatever.
Women too, they need a wee bit of coveting, of admiration, to have the fruits of their labors desired. So if someone shows you their new shoes, do not say, “actually I prefer the green ones.” If they are bragging about their new kitchen remodel, do not think they are craving design tips or paint color advice…….after the fact.
Once when I was a child a kind woman tried to explain to me that some kids were being mean because they were jealous. I believe I told her that was absolutely ridiculous. Nobody would ever feel that way and jealousy towards the likes of me was completely irrational,so it didn’t even exist. I did not have the ears to hear her wisdom, so missing this puzzle piece, I just assumed people always acted weird because of me. It did not even occur to me that there could be any other motivation. I had a blind spot.
I really a had to learn how to fake it, how to say things like, I totally covet your new kitchen. I’m so jealous of your shoes. I’d be devastated if you ran off with someone else. And by “fake it” I don’t mean lying, I mean speaking the truth of human nature even when the feelings and understanding are not fully there yet.
Obviously, “I covet your shoes” means I desire your shoes. I admire your taste. I am impressed with your choices. It does not mean, I’m so jealous I’m going to bash you over the head and steal them.
When I began to discover that envy was a real thing, that people can have these feelings, I laughed. It just seemed so ridiculous, so ludicrous, and I suppose it is. Take that with a grain of salt, I mean I am also an older woman and find it quite silly how I can laugh joyously at a wedding and then suddenly burst into tears. Emotions can be both beautiful ….and downright silly at the same time.
So that’s my tale of The Four Thieves, and the truth to be found there. Not accepting that these are real things makes you blind as to the nature of people and deprives you of the good root, that which the untainted part offers us. But also, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and it is often an inability or a failure to step fully into the Lord’s abundance, His infinite and plentiful goodness, goodness that never runs out, goodness that never leaves anyone out.