From: Julie –
I was talking to April the other night over some fantastic blueberry coffee when we started talking about this blog and what we had written so far. I told her I felt like I had nothing left to write and maybe we should keep the next few entries lighthearted. She said, “yes, but everything needed to be said.” So instead of skipping around the tulips this week I decided to write at least one more thing that “needed to be said” and maybe I am only preaching to myself.
The horrible green eye monster has been sitting on my shoulders. He keeps telling me that what everyone else has is better and that their grass is nicer on the other side. He pops in at the best and worst of times while I scroll through facebook only to see that all 300 and something of my friends went on vacation last week and probably are all still debt free afterwards. He shows me all the mom’s in the grocery stores with heavenly smiles on their faces and whispers “they are only that happy because they get to stay home with their kids and you don’t.” He peeks at me in the mirror and even though I may be loosing weight tells me someone has lost it faster. He shows up in my grumpy moments and interrupts my peaceful days. He tells me through all those articles on social media “A Letter Too” that my life isn’t as great as theirs. He is the green eyed monster and he likes to invite his friends Jealousy, Discontentment and Bitterness to the party.
At this point you probably think I am the worst Christian or pastor’s wife there is… but lets just be completely honest and let it all hang out. I highly doubt that I am the only person who loves Jesus who deals with this. This is something we don’t talk about enough in the church and even in ministry. It seems shameful almost to say out loud “I am envious.”
Why is it shameful to talk about? Why do we shy away from confessing this out loud? I think mostly because we feel we must always have this mask of perfection on our face. Its a whole lot easier to speak up and pray for a physical healing then be outright blunt and tell people that there is a problem in your heart. Especially if you are a leader at all in church. We have been lied too that we have to have it all together. Some of the most amazing Christian leaders I know have shown me their weaknesses and transparency, and for that I respect them more.
Like I mentioned, the green eyed monster brings his friends to the party. At first we are just affected by him and speaking envy into our lives. He makes us want what we don’t have and he disenchants the good about our life… and we let him. We let him by letting ourselves become distracted, we let him by listening to our selfish internal voice more than God’s promises. We let him speak louder then God’s Word and we allow him to introduce his friend Jealousy.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30
The difference between jealousy and envy is this: envy is a feeling of discontent because of other’s advantages or possessions whereas jealousy is resentment and brings all the emotion with it. Jealousy can lead you to do regrettable things based off your resenting emotions. Its usually a by-product of self-worth and can do a major number on your confidence. When I deal with jealousy the most is usually when I have stopped putting others first. When I start thinking all about me and my needs and forget about the needs of others is usually when jealousy actually has a way in. If I am consumed with being humbly and love then jealousy wont feel comfortable at the party. Putting others first is a struggle for me, its not necessarily in my human nature. All of human nature is to be selfish as well so to counter balance this we (including myself) have to take it one day at a time, one person at a time, one need at a time and put others first.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Discontentment is introduced next and with him comes a whole mess of unbalanced problems. Discontentment is a restless spirit that eats at you in your dreams and haunts you in your normal life. He makes you grieve the things you can not have and sucks the joy out of life. With him you grieve the life you thought you where supposed to have, the place you thought you where supposed to be in or the money you thought you should be making at this point. Your spirit is restless never finding peace with what you have and many times its painful to be happy for others. Discontentment likes to make me restless when I find a little happiness. “Oh, I love my new job, but its not the same as being home with the kids.” “This short date out with my husband was nice but not as romantic as if we could actually afford to go away for the weekend.” “Oh, I love serving at church but I wish I could be traveling the world for Jesus and I feel what I do has no meaning here.” (does any of this sound familiar, or am I the only one)
There is a story in Luke 12 where a man asks Jesus to order his brother to give him a fair share of his inheritance. Jesus tells the brother to beware and be on guard against every form of greed. “Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” Luke 12:15. Jesus goes on to tell a story to the crowd about a farmer who produced an amazing crop. The farmer was discontent because his barn was too small for the harvest so he tore down all his barns and built bigger ones. When he was done he boasted and said, “Self, you have done well. You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life. (verse 19)” Then God shows up and told the man he was a fool because the man was going to die that night and earthly possessions didn’t matter. The best line of the entire story is this: “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
Discontentment is really when we are so full of our self and greedy over what we think we should have or be that we don’t allow God into the picture. Ouch, that hit me too.
So the green eyed monster invites Jealousy and Discontentment but the worst of his friends is Bitterness and he arrives with a vengeance. He seeks to take root and rot your joy, killing all hope and robbing you from any blessing. Bitterness is when you feel something has been stolen from you – even if that “thing” isn’t real or has any truth to it. Its when you think your marriage has no hope and you are bitter towards your spouse due to unforgiveness. Its when you feel your life isn’t what you wanted or you should have made more money and you blame it bitterly on everyone else around you. Bitterness can come out of abuse, rejection, disappointment, unresolved anger and leaves no room for grace. It takes root in our heart and is extremely hard to get rid of.
Every seen someone who looked way older then their actual age? Its like you can see the hard life written all over their face. In every wrinkle and line is a story and usually there are more worry and frown lines then happy crinkles. This is just an outward reflection of what bitterness can do, but it looks much worse on the inside.
When bitterness tries to take place in my life, because I haven’t dealt with the green eyed monster and his friends, I have to look through the dark and remember the promises of God’s word. I have to remember that its only Christ’s love and grace that can fill me with what I need. Sulking in a corner feeling pity because I can’t afford an amazing vacation with my family isn’t going to bring me any joy.
We have to speak life into ourselves and our outlook. You have to shake those roots that are trying to attach and look the green eyed monster in the face and tell him to run. We can’t keep walking around wanting what other’s have or missing out on the life God intended for us. We have to be honest and share when we have these internal heart struggles and confess one to another so we live transparently. We can’t hide from this issue any longer because we don’t need anyone else feeling that Christian’s are any more hypocritical.
So here is me being transparent and talking about at least one more thing that needs to be “talked about.” There I said it – I deal with this and I will continue to share, confess and live a life that is honest. I will continue to have bad days but I will face this struggle head on knowing that God’s grace is new for me each day and the life He gave me is really better than what I think I want. I will continue to ask Jesus for forgiveness – ask Him to dwell in me, try to put others and Him first and myself last… and just maybe the green eyed monster will not want to party with me anymore. I didn’t send him an invite anyway.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up with the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-20