There are certain people in my life who seem to have exactly what I want:
- the comfort of a great (non-temporary) job they are passionate about,
- the adoration of a loving husband,
- the creativity that can spark awe in the dullest of imaginations,
- impressively productive will power,
- the cute kids,
- means to support so many different good causes,
- world-wide travel,
- an adventuresome nature that goes beyond “what if”.
And those are just a few of the things.
Sometimes those people spark me as inspiration, like when Katie came up with the reason and the means for us to dress as ninjas and slink through the night to spy on a suspected statue thief. There’s no way I would have done that on my own, and that’s become one of my favorite memories, largely for that reason alone.
There are other times, however, when I become envious of the people I hope would have inspired me. For instance, I see no relationship or children in the near future. Yes, I steal other people’s children on occasion, but I’m repeatedly told that it’s not the same as having your own.
I’m fully aware of the fact that the Bible describes envy as “unclean” (Mark 7:22) and “meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 4:4), and that it says it “rots your bones” (Proverbs 14:30). It’s true. No matter how much motivation envy brings about, you never really achieve what you were aiming at. You never truly are satisfied with what you have.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary puts it this way:
1en·vyPronunciation: \ˈen-vē\Function: nounDate: 13th century
1 : painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage
Clearly, that pain is not going to be comforted by some sort of effort on our part. The pain only leaves when “the desire to possess the same advantage” leaves. We need to learn to be thankful for where we are in life and for what we have. As I’m repeatedly telling the preschoolers in my Sunday school class, we have many, many things that God’s given us to be thankful for. We just have to take the time to think about them.
So, as I sit and look at that list, I wonder, How can I turn that around?
- the comfort of a great (non-temporary) job they are passionate about, I have a job, one that has potential to become permanent.
- the adoration of a loving husband, I’m not so old that this could never happen. I know someone who found love at 80 years of age.
- the creativity that can spark awe in the dullest of imaginations, God has given us resources to inspire us on our not-so-creative days.
- impressively productive will power, God gives me the strength to get done what needs to be.
- the cute kids, I steal everyone else’s kids . . . and I get to give them back!
- means to support so many different good causes, I can pray, and I know firsthand that God answers those prayers.
- world-wide travel, I learn something new about where I live on a regular basis, and I have traveled far more than the average Joe.
- an adventuresome nature that goes beyond “what if”. I am inspired and challenged by friends around me, even if those friends are only two to five years old.
How can you take your list of things you envy in others and turn them into reasons to be thankful?