A close friend I admire recently admitted to feeling green. We were reminiscing about the day we first met. She shared that she had secretly coveted my life and some of the things in it. Then, in courageous humility she said, “I hope that you can forgive me for being so green with envy.”
Many sources attribute the saying “green with envy” to the early Greeks. The Greeks believed that when someone was envious their bodies started to produce more bile than normal, causing their skin to turn a pale green color. Envy is described as a green sickness. The green-eyed monster.
Today, I kept score of his visits.
A running tally of
every wanting glance
every green desire
every envious thought
| 16 Times |
16 times since I left the house only five hours ago.
16 occasions of looking into happiness through someone else’s eyes.
16 moments of this precious life that I can never get back.
16 thoughts of
everything from my husband’s innate ability to sleep in
to my co-workers slim frame and fancy clothes
to my fellow pastors ability to do full-time ministry.
I wish I could pretend this is normal, acceptable and healthy behavior, but the reality is that this number breaks me open.
It breaks me because I know that when I spend so much time desiring what I don’t have,
I shut the door on the possibility of delighting in what I do have.
Here are the three most important things I’ve learned about envy:
1. ENVY WILL HARM YOU
I think Shakespeare had it right when he called envy a sickness.
Envy is so unhealthy for your mind, your spirit, and your body.
Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
It might seem humerus to you, but I’m pretty fond of my bones (see what I did there?).
How ridiculous is it that we willingly participate in something that harms our spirit and rots us from the inside out.
We pray for God to heal cancer, ease muscle aches, and mend bones.
We pray and have faith for God to heal the outside things, the physical things, the easy things…but why not the things that are hidden on the inside of us?
Why not the greenness that has taken over our hearts?
I pray, God heal my heartaches and mend my broken desires.
Heal the parts of me that crave things that will never be enough for me like You are.
Heal the thoughts I have about myself and about others.
Heal this green sickness I have let take up residence in my spirit.
Heal this heart and give it peace.
2. ENVY WILL MAKE YOU FEEL FORGOTTEN
I really love birthdays. Anyone’s birthday.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
Growing up I had a reputation of being a little green at other people’s birthday parties.
It was the worst on May 14th – my sisters birthday.
I always placed myself strategically next to her so that I could “help” her open her gifts. By “help” I mean grab the gifts out of her hands, rip off the paper and then hold up her gift to show the crowd (AKA our embarrassed family members) what my sister got for her birthday.
I didn’t act this way because I didn’t love my sister or because I really needed her gifts.
I did this because she was getting something and I was getting nothing.
I thought it was unfair that she was getting so many gifts even though I had just experienced the very same gift-filled wonderment on my own birthday a month before.
I felt like everyone loved her more than me.
I felt like I had been forgotten.
This is what envy does to you.
It will make you feel like you have been forgotten by other people and even more so by God.
But like all things sinful, it is a lie.
The truth is that when God blesses someone with something it doesn’t mean He has forgotten you.
As I got older and learned how to control myself at birthday parties (I think), I realized that my parents didn’t love me any less on Sarah’s birthday than they did on my birthday.
The love of the Father is no different.
The blessing and prospering of others does not void our adoption papers.
You are still His regardless of what others are living or experiencing.
Envy will tell you that you have been forsaken and forgotten and left to rot because of what everyone else is getting or how everyone else is living.
Don’t fall for the trick.
Instead, start rejoicing in the fact that you serve a God who’s love is so endless He can afford to spend it on more than just one person.
3. ENVY WILL DISTRACT YOU
We have this misconception that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
I’ve even heard people try and remedy this saying by adding, “It’s green where you water it.”
But I don’t know if I believe that.
There are areas where I have watered for years and have not seen growth.
Desires that I have sought after and prayed for, but have not yet obtained.
I’m watering, but I’m not seeing any green grass.
But I’ve realized the problem isn’t how much I’m watering, but WHAT I’m watering.
Envy will distract you.
Envy will teach you to water everything but your relationship with the Lord.
It will teach you to tend to the things that have no value in the Kingdom.
It will trick you into being so obsessed with changing yourself to be more like others instead of changing your heart to be more like Christ.
It’s time to take our minds off of watering our lawns so they look as good as our neighbors
and start focusing on changing our hearts so that they can look as pure as our Savior’s.
I’m taking back my 16 moments.
What will you do with yours?