A few weeks ago I was watching a series of Instagram Stories, and it seemed like every single story triggered a little jolt of jealousy in me: one after another, after another, after another. There truly are endless opportunities for jealousy to show itself day in and day out, and the more I ruminate on what I wish for, I forget all that I have already been blessed with. And I know I’m not alone.
I’ve heard countless women say, “The hardest part of jealousy is not appreciating what you have.”
When we are thankful, we worship God for all the ways He has blessed us. When we are jealous, we resent God for how He is “holding out” on us.
I know it’s hard to come to terms with this ugly truth inside our hearts, but I love you so I’m keeping it real here: You weren’t meant for entitlement; You were meant for worship.
I truly believe that jealousy can be countered by thankfulness. To fight this battle against The Knot, we need to change our wishing to thanksgiving.
This concept is a lot easier said than done though. Why is it so difficult for us to be thankful?
I believe we struggle to be thankful because jealousy stems from an internal sense of entitlement. We cannot experience true thankfulness while still possessing an entitled heart.
Underneath a quiet, “I wish my life looked as exciting as her” lingers I deserve adventure and fun.
Behind a “why can’t I look like that?” hides I deserve to look a certain way, and I deserve to have others admire me.
Within “Why does she get this role?” is I deserve that because of my qualifications, talents, or seniority.
We convince ourselves that God owes us. He owes us a happy life, a spouse, children, a fulfilling career, healthy bank account…the list goes on and on.
We lose sight of WHO God is, and instead care more about WHAT he can give. Yet the irony of it all is that once we receive what we have asked for, we no longer view it as a gift. Rather, we believe we’ve deserved it all along.
Paul writes to the people of Corinth, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” 1 Corinthians 4:7
In other words, everything you have is a gift from God, yet you brag as if you earned it yourself.
We need a heart adjustment if we are going to win this fight.
Do you remember when you first started driving your current vehicle? The moment you climbed into that Toyota Camry, you could not stop seeing the same car all over the roads. Before you acknowledged the Camry, you had no idea how many were driving the streets. Your initial awareness developed a sensitivity to that car.
In the same way, when we begin to make ourselves aware of the good gifts and ways that God has blessed us, we develop a sensitivity to His goodness- noticing more and more to be thankful for.
Developing this awareness can be done in practical ways such as
- A Thankfulness Journal: Write down something you are thankful for everyday.
- An Acknowledgement Jar: Add a few things you accomplished everyday. You can read more about my experience with the Acknowledgement Jar on author Kathi Lipp’s blog here.
- Giving Thanks in Prayer: Literally thanking God for everything you have.
- Sharing Thanks: Telling your spouse or roommate what the two of you are grateful for every day.
The key is to be consistent and specific, making this an every day habit and being descriptive about what you are thankful for and why.
When you realize every little thing you have is a gift, your sense of entitlement will slowly dissipate. And this is where the real power is found. The script in your mind will completely alter in times when you could feel jealousy.
“I wish I could be as smart as her” is distracted by “What an incredible gift it is that I have the opportunity to attend this school and further my education, learning and growing and being challenged. Thanks God!”
“My kitchen never looks as tidy as hers” changes to “I am so thankful to be able to buy the good and healthy foods that I love. It’s amazing that I can cook something great for my family. Dirty dishes mean full bellies and family time around the table. Thanks Lord!”
“If only I looked as perfectly put together as her” becomes “This season of life is crazy busy. But I am so blessed to have errands to run and work to be done. Thank you for my job, even though I don’t appreciate it often. Thank you God.”
Maybe you are in a season of life where it is really difficult to find something to be thankful for. I get that. Life is hard. But being thankful is choosing to look for the good in a mess and finding a gift in the chaos. It’s okay to ask God to show you something to be thankful for. Just don’t give up!
As we put this into practice, I’m confident we will notice a change in the focus of our hearts. Jealousy focuses on what we lack, while thankfulness focuses on God’s goodness. And God is so good that His goodness can distract us from our jealousy, if only we give it a chance.
What are three things that you are grateful for today? Take a few minutes and thank God for them now.
With Love & Freedom,