When Envy Distorts Your View of Yourself and Others

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

I’ve never been the jealous type.

If you buy a new house, I won’t covet your hardwood floors. I’m thrilled for you if you own a stunning wardrobe.

It might be hard to believe, but I’m happy to see your vacation photos. Sure I wish you would have taken me, (I AM human) but I love to see God bless people.

Maybe I thought I was impervious to jealousy. I was wrong.

Five months ago when I started this blog, I went on a blog subscription frenzy. I thought I would learn from the best in Christian publishing.

The jealousy started almost as fast as my inbox flooded with polished prose.

I soaked up every word. These writers had turned blogging into an art form.

But instead of rejoicing with my fellow wordsmiths, my heart took an ugly turn. I could only see how my words lacked the poetic ring of Ann Voskamp’s writing.

Would my words ever inspire like Mary DeMuth’s or encourage like Holley Gerth’s? Could my posts challenge the way Jennifer Dukes Lee’s do or bring as many laughs as Annie Downs?

And why can’t I seem to narrow my focus into one resounding theme like the way Crystal Stine hangs her entire blog around the word community?

By opening up the door of comparison, I allowed envy to walk in and strangle my joy. All of a sudden my blog posts weren’t witty enough, punchy or deep enough. I could only see my lack.

I coveted their books, too. As I elevated these writers, I forgot they were normal people, like you or me.

Maybe that’s the dangerous side of jealousy. It doesn’t only steal happiness, but it blinds us to our own blessings and causes us to see a distorted world—a world where our gifts never seem like enough.

Jealousy and competition mar our view of Christ’s body. Falling prey to envy prohibits us from fully functioning where God has placed us.

Whether you’re a writer or not, God’s gifted you with your experiences, personality and vantage point to create the depth and timbre of your voice.

Whether you write, speak or sit on a pew, your voice matters.

Photo Via Creative Commons.

Photo Via Creative Commons.

I remember the day God asked me to pray a blessing over one of these bloggers, to pray an increase over their lives and ministry. He asked me to pray what I ached for.

When I balked, I saw the green-eyed monster. But the second I obeyed, God began to change my heart.

I began to see how each author’s message was so often born from a mess. I saw how God likes to use the wounded to write healing words and how books sometimes come only after years of cross carrying.

I see a community of writers to whom God has given talent, each with a different voice, each with a different message. What a lovely thing to behold.

And I’m excited to take a seat among them. Today as I write this my heart sings Mary’s ancient words.

“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:38 NIV).

In the end this writing life is about serving. “Platform” building is only another opportunity to bow down and wash some feet.

Book photo credit

Book/vase photo credit

13 thoughts on “When Envy Distorts Your View of Yourself and Others

  1. I actually felt a bit of the same about Jennifer. Annie, and Aliza. Aliza told me about Jennifer’s book actually :) I love (in)courage so, so, so much. But you’re right in saying they’ve all been gifted in beautifully, different ways, who share God’s love with words. And we’re supposed to build each other up. And they do that. And so do you and I. <3

    • Julia, thanks for empathizing with me here. It’s so great to know someone who understands! I actually visited (in)courage today and saw what an amazing blog it is. I don’t think I had fully appreciated. May God make us all encouragers for one another. Lord knows we ALL need it.

    • Levi, thank you for your kind words. YOU are such an encouragement to me. I’m so happy your son is recovering well. I know he’s up for the challenge of recuperating. Sounds like he’s learned a lot of good lessons from a good dad. :) Blessings friend.

  2. Love your post! As you said, God created each of us so uniquely that it’s just wrong to envy others, but we often get caught anyway. As you, I don’t feel jealous concening fame, or money, or looks or whatever, but since I discovered writing as a vocation, I also learned that I have to fight comparison. I cheer with others who write well, but I tend to become unsure about my own blog/voice etc. Thankfully we have a God that speaks to us and helps us to concentrate on the important things – writing his truth, sharing our struggles, being who we are in writing as in live :-) Blessings!

    • Claudia, I’m happy you liked this post, but happier to know I’m not alone. Keep cheering on other writers. What wonderful medicine for our hearts! You’re so right about God helping us keep our priorities straight. Thankfulness is such a gift, Isn’t it? May God bless you in all your writing endeavors and increase your influence as you glorify Him.

      • Thank you for your kind words! That’s the best thing to do: helping us on, encouraging each other, so that other’s success is not a threat, but merely a joyful push for us to go on with our work :-)

  3. Great post. I threw a book across the room once when I first started writing. I was so frustrated to not write like THAT. Then I read that same author’s first book and realized I could maybe write like THAT. It’s a growth journey for all of us, not only in writing craft, but in relaxing into our unique calling and voice. You blessed me tonight! You’ve got a great thing going here.

    • Haha! I’ve been there too. I love your story. Thanks for your wisdom and perspective here. I need a healthy dose of this. Patience has never been my strong suit. Love too, what you say about “relaxing into our unique callings and voice.” It’s the truth isn’t it. Anxiety and fear never helped anyone achieve anything! Now I will only have to remember to tell myself this great advice again tomorrow.

      • Celebrate your successes, my friend. You have a strong blog with a healthy following. I wish I could remember the statistics, but you among a very small slice of folks who not only dream of writing, but do it consistently! You’re helping people here. Your work bears fruit.

        *hugs*

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