August 15, 2011

The End of Jealousy

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
~ Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

My best friend’s mom was in liver failure. I watched as Laura flew back and forth from Maryland to Indiana time after time to be with her mom in the hospital. Day after day, week after week, Laura gave me updates on her mom’s progress. Better one day – and she would come home. Worse the next – and she would consider flying back. She took weeks off work and eventually arranged to work remotely.

Laura was also dealing with a challenging second pregnancy. I normally felt a sting of jealousy about a friend’s pregnancy. I tried to fight against the envy and resulting bitterness, but it was a constant challenge. This one situation was a catalyst of drastic change for me.

I thought of my friend’s beautiful first child and her ability to get pregnant a second time. And then I thought of all the difficulties she was going through with her current pregnancy and the heart-wrenching, life-threatening battle her mom was fighting, and lost after a few short months.

How could I be jealous of my friend – even when she had the one thing I so greatly desired? She was going through situations so dreadful I would like to avoid them forever!

That was when God taught me an invaluable lesson. Jealousy and envy focus in on one part of another person’s life – the good parts. Jealousy fails to recognize the not-so-good parts. How can I compare a person’s good things only to my entire life – good and bad – and then declare that she has it better or easier?

One-sided comparisons will always result in envy and resentment because they are skewed. They aren’t based on truth. The truth was that I couldn’t be jealous of my friend’s child and pregnancy when I saw how difficult her life was. One life isn’t better than the other.

If I am going to compare someone’s life to my own, I must do so by looking at the whole of her life, not just the things I covet. Whole life to whole life. Do I really want to trade lives? When I honestly consider this question, the answer is no.

That is not to say I have this all figured out. There are times when I still struggle with this truth, when I feel the weeds of jealousy taking root again in my heart. But God is quick to remind me of this difficult lesson. I do not have it worse than everyone else.

We all face different challenges because of the fallen world we live in. That knowledge doesn't necessarily make my struggles easier to deal with, but it’s healthy to acknowledge that I'm not the only one that hurts. That acknowledgement can lead to a life free of jealousy and its resulting bitterness.

Rachel and her husband live in Maryland, home of the world's finest crab cakes. Her heart for women facing the struggle of infertility has led to an active, encouraging role on Hannah's Prayer Community Forums. When she isn't laughing with her husband, Rachel can be found cooking, blogging, and hanging with girlfriends.

Author website: Portrait Rachel