I was waiting to turn left today, but a car was coming from the other way. I decided I should wait for her to pass, but then she started slowing and I realized she was going to turn the way I was going. “Ugggh!” I complained to myself. “If she’d used her blinker, I’d have known and had time to turn first.” As she turned, she didn’t notice me, but I glared at her and thought to myself, “She has that newer version of the CRV. She probably has the biggest car payment and makes bad financial decisions!”Then I realized, that “newer” version of the CRV was several years old. My car is just as new and just as financed (if hers even is financed). Why was I acting like that toward a stranger turning the same direction as me on a busy road at rush hour? After all, I’m just the same.
Then it occurred to me, this reaction could be some kind of residual jealousy from when I drove an older, Toyota version of the CRV, a 2004 RAV4. For some reason, I was holding it against this stranger woman that her car was newer and better than the car we sold 7 months ago.
Ahh, the green monster of jealousy. It raised its head for sure today, turning off of Shorecrest drive. Savanna wrote about it last week, and we weren’t planning a “double-header” on jealousy, but it made its presence known in such an ugly way in me today, I simply had to write about it too! Jealousy is so prevalent in women. Maybe it is in men too—I’m not a man, so I don’t know. But for myself and the women I know, jealousy is an emotion that gives all the rest a run for their money. Other women have better cars, better clothes, better bodies. These things get them or come from better jobs, better luck, a better relationship with God, even.
Jealousy does us no good. It zaps our joy and our contentment. It hurts our relationships with people we perceive to have more than we do or be liked more than we are. The Bible says that Jesus faced every temptation humans do and that he overcame them, which got me thinking about Jesus and jealousy. Do you think he was ever tempted to be jealous of the tax collector Matthew, who was richer than him as a carpenter? Do you think he was tempted to be jealous of his mother Mary or his disciples, who lived longer human lives than he got to? Maybe even of the angels, who got to stay in heaven while he had to come clean up our mess down here on earth? I’m sure Jesus was tempted to be jealous, just like any other human, but the Bible also says he never sinned, unlike any other human. Clearly, he overcame jealousy somehow before it became a problem in his life.
First Corinthians says that love does not envy. First Corinthians says that, since there is still jealousy among you, you are acting like a mere human, you are still worldly. Clearly we can’t love the way we’re called to and live the life we’re called to while remaining in jealousy. The ironic thing is, I even get jealous of people who (I perceive to be) more godly or less jealous than me.
I love the book of Ecclesiastes. It just seems so real, a desperate writing from a desperate—yet very wise—human. Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another.” Did he not just describe corporate America, everyone trying to achieve more and buy more and one-up their peers? But he goes on: “This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Proverbs 27:4 says, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy.” Is he really saying that jealousy is more powerfully destructive than anger and fury? I think he is.
I repeat, jealousy does us no good, and it leads to nowhere good. So how do we overcome it?
I’ll be honest, I doubt reading this blog will end your fight with jealousy. Comparing ourselves is somehow wired into the human brain. But it’s possible to overcome, because First Corinthians also says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (10:13). James tells us not to slander one another (James 4:11). Proverbs tells us that “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Maybe that’s where we start. Maybe we can’t always keep the jealous thought from popping into our head when we see some other woman’s car, but we can choose not to dwell on it. We can choose not to slander each other in our talk, even if it’s just with our friends at the lunch table. We can choose to be hearts at peace, to love everyone in a First Corinthians 13 kind of way. We can choose to thank God for what we do have, and maybe even for what he’s given to others. We can choose to go, through our actions, to war with the big green monster. And I think if we do, our hearts may just learn to follow. And I think if they do, we may just experience love in a deeper kind of way.