I’m not really proud of this and it will be hard to write about it …hard on the ole’ people-pleasing-worried-about-what-you’ll-think-of-me side. At one time or another I just might have had a slight issue with jealousy. There ! I said it! It’s out there and I can’t take it back, right? Well, I could but something deep within me says I should let this out of the closet just in case there are others who just might have struggled with this and need some encouragement to know “you’re not alone”.
You see, I believe that every single person is beautiful …created by God and in His image …loved so deeply by Jesus that He thinks you’re “to die for” ! I also believe that every single person has beauty within them as well as what you see on the outside. The diversity in personalities, creativity, passions and gifts become just as beautiful to me as what is obvious on the outside — maybe even more so. However, there’s a weird beast lurking out there who can sneak up on you and camouflage that beauty you once saw in others — making them look like an ugly arch-enemy instead. The jealousy beast has a way of putting glasses on us that distort our view of others …ironically making them look more beautiful or successful or happier … than we are!
Several years ago, we moved to an area we had previously lived in only this time — the scenery had changed quite a bit. My husband was not going back to his previous “position” and our new financial “provision” was pretty slim. It was one of those “in-between” times for us in ministry and life. We didn’t know exactly where God wanted us to minister other than the broader New England area — making for a lot of “unknowns”. It was kind of like God said to “go” and He’d let us know the address along the way. (Oh Abraham — we totally relate to you and that whole Ur to Canaan move !) We had four children — ages 15 and under — I was a stay-at-home mom, and the job available for my husband paid very little. Situations like this can make anyone go off the deep end, right !!! ???
I was depressed ! We had moved from one state to another while I was still processing our last “state of ministry” when something very ugly crept in. It seemed I was ambushed and I started feeling like I was the victim — the victim of bad circumstances — and the funny thing is , no one else seemed to be in that same boat!! It was just little ole’ me, all by myself — drowning in a sea of self-pity — and the wave brought with it an acute awareness of what everybody else had that I didn’t have (or didn’t think I had).
Our circumstances and differences, along with even hormonal changes (what am I saying? …especially hormonal changes !!!) can create war within us — our mind, the battleground ! And just like war — there are usually casualties !
One of my best friends, who loved me beyond words, became one of “those people” — those people who, in my mind, had everything …who didn’t have to worry about money at all , who laughed and played and got to go out to eat all the time, who was able to sign her kids up for whatever classes or sports they wanted to participate in, who could always go out with friends for dinner or take awesome vacations, who seemed to always have nice clothes, who had a skill that allowed her a job that paid well so she could help support her husband and family, who even tanned well, for Pete’s sake ! (ok –it’s vanity I know, but I’ve always wanted to tan well). Her image began changing … in my mind. The beast of jealousy began to camouflage and veil the real friend I knew and loved. Her well-deserved blessings became my bane.
The sad thing is, she hadn’t done anything wrong ! … but the veil was covering up the truth and shrouding it with lies …wrong perceptions …judgments … false assumptions and a distorted view ! Ughhh …I hate even typing this ! Unfortunately, depression and financial stress-to-the-max cultivated a very fertile ground for the enemy of my soul to plant weeds of jealousy, self-pity, judgment, and plain out meanness ! Even though we worshiped together at the same church, I avoided her as much as possible. I still grieve deeply over the pain I caused her as I barely spoke when she tried to initiate conversation and re- kindle the relationship we were so used to having in the past. Ughhh… I still feel awful as I remember this dark time but it has to come out in the open so the real enemy has no power over it and the root that may be growing in any of us can be recognized …identified … detected — and the Holy Spirit allowed to do some serious weed-control — countering it with the life-giving love of Jesus and His truth! This is the only thing that gets rid of the beast !
Grace and mercy! Let me tell you about it. God graciously identified the real root issue in my heart — jealousy ! It was an ugly sin to look at — as all sin really is. I know people make a big deal about overt sins like murder and adultery, etc., but I’m here to tell you that the sins of the heart — the sins of my heart — were as ugly and detestable as they come and ranking was really not an option to God … or me for that matter ! I felt the weight of my sin. It had colored my thinking about a very dear friend of mine and had changed who I was in the process as well ! I constantly looked at things through the eyes of the “poor-me” window and the view was always inferior to my “neighbor’s”!
Back to grace and mercy …My friend and I had been prayer partners along the way and even though my attitude was stinky, I still really loved God and knew praying together was a good thing to have in my life. As we prayed together God began to allow the impurities to “rise to the top” so they could easily be revealed and skimmed off . God lovingly disciplined me , not allowing me to stay in that unhealthy frame of mind that sin had bordered me with. I came to God — ashamed and broken — and admitted my sin … the sin He obviously already knew about but He also knew it was important for us to have that “talk” for our own relationship’s sake. I knew I had to not only stop it !! but also go and humbly make things right with my precious friend. Humble pie it was — but such a delicious feast of reconciliation and restoration!
God, along with my friend, gave me a lot of grace that day and both welcomed me back into the loving relationship we had known before. The “ugly” glasses were taken off — the camouflaged veil lifted — the beauty revealed !
I realize not every story ends like the one I shared. Sometimes the other party is not so grace-giving and won’t forgive our wrongs done to them or it didn’t quite look like we thought it might. Perhaps the relationship had to part ways in order to be reconciled. At other times, the opportunity, for whatever reason, is not available . It’s at these moments I cry for mercy and grace and help from my Father and I leave the story in His hands so He can write it with “mercy’s pen”.
(Natalie Grant – “Alive”)
He has given some pretty encouraging promises for these situations …
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
As a loving Father, He longs to talk with us — even if it’s a hard conversation to have. The Real Beauty is this … He’s always available and always willing to listen and He longs to love us back into a sweet, intimate relationship like that between two best friends .
And to my friend I say …Thank you so much for giving me the gift of grace and for considering our friendship worth working it out ! Thank you for loving me through it all and not holding it against me all these years ! You are such a gift to me and I love you dearly !