My jealous-bone-ectomy (a slow surgery)

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Change is often a slow process, an evolution in which you don’t notice what’s happening until it’s nearly completed.  Generally, we’re reluctant to give ourselves credit for positive progress until we’re only feet from the finish line.

Often change just slowly ripples across our lives until one day it’s eroded us into someone completely different than the last time we checked.

As for me this needed change, the one that was a long time coming, was to break the cycle of living in jealousy, to have my jealous bone removed if you will.  

This rhythm of jealousy was suffocating me from the inside out. I was living a life of hopeless inferiority on every front: as a mother, a wife, a writer, a Christian, a woman.

I often felt like the little sister of whatever world I was operating in.  Always chasing after the big girls, hoping that they would notice me, play with me.  Ever praying that someday I would be as fabulous and confident as they were.

Over the last year I realized that this inner belief that of jealousy, of “less-than”, was my most life-stealing issue.  I was always so busy being jealous that I had no time to feel joy all around me, my thoughts were ever elsewhere. 

I couldn’t be the mother God wanted me to be because I was busying focusing on how my friends were much better moms.

I couldn’t be the writer he created me to be if I was always reading blogs and tweets and walking away feeling like a hack.

I couldn’t feel contentment with the gifts that surrounded me, I was too busy comparing them to everyone else’s gifts and coming up short.

But I can tell you that God has been faithful in helping me to climb off the cycle of jealousy, and that it has brought a deep peace and contentment in almost every area of my life.

I realized that this jealousy was not only blinding me to how blessed I was, it was putting up a wall between myself and so many of the woman who could be mentoring and inspiring me.  Jealousy puts up walls between us and renders us unable to praise God for the gifts he gave to those around us.

I’m still trying to figure out how I made progress on the jealousy front, one I definitely haven’t mastered.  Really all glory and props go to God, the giver of all good gifts.

The most important thing I did about  jealousy was to identify the jealous thoughts in the moment and then tell them the truth.

I am good
I am God’s
We’re all diversely, divinely gifted.

That’s the short version, here’s a nice three step breakdown ( which may prove to be incomplete in the future)

1) First do a reality check.  Are you comparing yourself to someone who’s been at it longer than you?  If so,they will have a knack for it that exceeds your own simply because they’ve had more practice.

Remind yourself that growth takes time and take note of all the positive change God is working in you.  If you want to take it a step further, resolve to gain a little knowledge in this area, it’s okay to be intentional about growth, it’s not okay to wallow in jealousy and make yourself feel like crap.

2) Ask yourself if the thing causing your jealousy is a part of your calling?  Do you need to focus on this or are you just having a jealous reaction to the talent God gave someone else?

For example: If you’re jealous of someone’s garden, ask yourself whether you’re called to be a gardener.  Do you have time for it? Maybe you’ve hit on an unresolved passion, but it’s more likely that you need to buy your tomatoes at the farmers market and admire someone else’s talents for what they are: THEIR PASSION, NOT YOURS. 

Remember 1 Corinthians 14: “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,”… if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

We need to be doing our jobs on this earth, not sitting idle wishing we were called to something else.

3) Never, Ever forget that you very well may be comparing apples and zucchini:  You’re comparing your worst moments to their best ones.  You need to walk away from the internet and start counting gifts instead.

When social media causes me to feel inadequate, I put my phone in my underwear drawer and walk away.  I’m not in the right frame of mind to handle a constant window into the best parts of your life, so I shut that window and close the blinds.

I’m still on this journey, surely there are still bits of jealous bone inside, which God will slowly help me remove over time.

What steps do you take when jealous creeps up?  Do you find yourself in need of a jealous-bone-ectomy? 

  • http://www.partttimeeverythingelse.wordpress.com Kara G

    Well done! My sister posted a quote recently that resonated with me: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steve Furtick

    Here’s to recognizing we have limited access to everyone else’s “behind the scenes” work, stress and struggles. Just because they make it look easy, doesn’t mean it is. Good luck, mama!

  • Judi Tieri

    Penny: I really was able to relate to your blog today. I had those same feeling growing up, and during motherhood. I too, felt as if I “fell below the line” as a mother, daughter, daughter-in-law and whatever hat I wore for that particular day. You also have the internet, FB e-mails etc. So often I will read a blog of “niceities” and “perfect kids” who are perfectly dressed, and oh so obedient. IT IS NOT THE TRUTH. God’s truth about “real people” IS YOU! I love your blogs, and your reality and not the “sunshine and rainbows” every day blog. Keep being YOU. Telling the truth so many Mom’s need to hear..KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  • Andrew Gilmore

    When jealous creeps up for me, I like to take a reality check. Like you said those people are usually far more experienced than I am. Life is so much better when we are generous and support each other!