Growing up, I was a confident child.
Sociable, audacious, and equipped with my parents’ belief in my ability to achieve, I believed that the world was my oyster. I believed, wholeheartedly, that whatever I wanted in this life could be mine.
I realise now that I was blissfully unaware of a truth that awaited me; we simply cannot become anything we want, because the playing field is unapologetically unlevelled. Plus there are millions who have tried their best and still failed to achieve the lives their souls craved.
My first dance with jealousy occurred when I was in Year 6 and I was not doing as well as everyone had hoped. My parents had been informed, meetings with stakeholders had increased and a daily report had been implemented to monitor my behaviour. Despite all the academic pressure being heaped onto my 10-year-old back, the most crushing event of all was when I was moved from the ‘top’ table to the ‘middle’ table.
Even at my young age, I understood that I had fallen from grace. Despite being a mere few feet away, my previous home felt unreachable, the gulf between where I was now and where I had been, stretched out like an ocean.
As we move through school, progressing from year to year, we inevitably begin to see ourselves in some sort of life race. Once university ends, the starting pistol sounds and we are off. Who will get the grad job? Who will get married first? Who will become the richest?
“We all know what winning looks like and we are desperately afraid of losing.”
Eventually, we are all forced to face the life we have been given and sit with any discomfort that reality might provoke. Feelings of discontentment are further compounded by Instagram, an application which intentionally seeks to exploit and profit from our insecurities. In spite of how sordid social media has shown itself to be, we still spend endless hours engaging with it. Whether that’s positioning our lives as something to be seen and adored, or silently lurking, casting judgement on those who choose to showcase their lives, comforting ourselves with the notion that we are somehow better for not posting at all.
Regardless of our complex relationship with Instagram and despite the knowledge that we are seeing a curated version of life, we cannot completely shield ourselves from the persistent message it conveys: our lives are not good enough.
Many choose to disengage completely, to purge their phones of any content that might lead them down the dark path of jealousy. But what do we do when jealousy enters our homes and our relationships? Do we cut ourselves off from all the people that appear to be doing better than us?
“Jealousy and envy are matters of the heart and, with such matters, it is important that we do not shy away in the hopes that they dissipate naturally. We must face them head on.”
Here are a few things I have found helpful in my own personal journey of learning to guard my heart against feelings of jealousy:
Capture The Thought
I notice what I am thinking and feeling. I am honest with myself about how I feel no matter how uncomfortable. I stop the thought in its tracks and speak directly to it. I question its origin and its right to make a home in my heart. (2 Corinthians 10:5 & Philipians 4:8)
Get Real With God
I speak with Him about my emotions. I remind myself of His plan and His purpose for my life. I remind myself of His uncanny ability to exceed my expectations and give me an abundant life that flows with milk and honey. (Psalm 51:16-17 & 2 Corinthians 1:20)
Do The Work
I ask myself what do I seek to accomplish? It is far easier to despise what others have attained instead of doing the gruelling work that is required of all of us to create the life we are hoping for.
Success looks different for every person. Comparison is inevitable. However, an unwavering trust in God’s plan and unyielding commitment to do the work that God has called you to, will lead to a life of true contentment. (Psalms 37:3-5)