Her looks, his money, her fancy house, their marriage, those kids, his success, that ministry, those accomplishments….or even my relationship, my friendships, my belongings, my rights, family: You name it and I can be jealous over it. Sad to say I am no stranger to this life sucking, vision clouding, strife producing emotion.
We all experience jealousy at one time or another, it is one of the many emotions we experience because we are designed in the image of God but living in a sin filled world in a fallen state. Our feelings are part of how we are created in the very image of God. However, it is what we do with our feelings that make a difference. Remember, feelings are not good or bad; they are simply present. If I allow my thoughts to feed my jealous feelings then I may take damaging action that is irrevocable. I may speak words that I later regret or hurt someone in such a way that the relationship is irreparable. We have a right to feel jealous, but a responsibility to choose to respond in a manner that will help alleviate the pain of the emotion.
Up to this point in the Designed Curriculum we have examined, God, identity, along with the roles of our physical being, our thoughts and our emotions. Now it is time to see how they are all connected together just as a tree is connected with it’s roots firmly planted in the soil and extending up through it’s trunk.
So, exactly what is jealousy? Jealousy is a secondary emotion that is a combination of sadness, anger, insecurity and fear. It is defined as:
- Feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.
- Feeling or showing suspicion of someone’s unfaithfulness in a relationship.
- Fiercely protective or vigilant of one’s rights or possessions.
Here are some of the potential indicators of jealousy:
Physical response: Crying, increased pulse rate, shaking, lack of sleep and sweating. Sometimes accompany the feeling of jealousy are racing or ruminating thoughts.
Thoughts about self: “I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough etc.”, “I deserve more.” “I should have gotten that.” “I have a right to…..” “This is not fair.”
Thoughts about God: “God won’t take care of me or meet my needs.” “God doesn’t care about what I want.”
Our action/tendency/response: Belittle the other person. Brag about self or accomplishments. Protect at all costs. Attack the other person. Wallow in despair or hopelessness. Try to “correct” the situation by getting whatever we think we deserve regardless or the cost.
Communication: Jealousy says: This is not fair. This is mine. I deserve more or better. I can’t have what I want or need.
Sometimes when our emotions get out of control, or are suppressed, we end up with what I describe as an emotional infection. An emotional infection is similar to a physical infection. When a person receives a physical wound and doesn’t engage in measures to protect from infection or seek the proper treatment there is a risk of infection. The result of the infection can result in varying degrees ranging from mild symptoms to amputation, to death. Emotional infections are similar to physical infections. Many times we will be in a situation where we receive an emotional wound. If we do not attend to that wound our emotions can become inflamed and can result in varying degrees of relational difficulties ranging from increased personal distress, to relational loss, and ultimately to death. Therefore it is important to pay attention to the state of our emotions and engage in healthy emotional regulation and distress tolerance.
Infected Jealousy. Jealousy is not a pleasant emotion to experience. If we let jealousy have free reign in our hearts and continue feeding it with our thoughts it can cause tremendous damage inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly one can experience bitterness, rage, hatred, extreme anxiety, depression and self-loathing. Outwardly one may end up lying, stealing, or hurting someone. In some cases jealousy has even led to murder!
As we learned in our last lesson all emotions are designed to give us important information about our needs. So exactly what does our jealousy indicate and how can we get those needs met?
Jealousy may indicate a need to learn to trust, to be content, or to develop an improvement plan. Here are some examples:
You may need to learn to trust God. That he is who he says he is and will do all that he has promised to do. You can trust him to meet your needs and to provide discovery or protection as necessary.
You may need to learn to trust an individual or process. If you are worried that a loved one may be cheating on you it can be difficult to trust them because they may not be honest with you. Their behavior or confession will eventually show the truth of what is going on. By expressing your feelings, thoughts and needs you are allowing the other person an opportunity to help meet those needs.
You may need to learn to be content. Celebrate what you do have and learn to live without the things you don’t have. Situations are temporal, they change. Sometimes you will have a season of plenty and other times a season of want. You can choose to be content in both scenarios. Often times it is through the difficult process of learning to accept things as they are in the moment that we learn valuable life lessons, develop strength of character and gain the power that comes from being able to let go.
You may need to develop an improvement plan. This is a case where jealousy, when correctly focused, can help spur you on to achieve goals or dreams. Perhaps you are jealous of some one who has attained a goal that you were hoping to obtain. In this case you may need to learn to press into your goal or revise your plan for obtaining your goal.
So what can I do? The important thing with jealousy, as with all uncomfortable emotions, is to 1.) acknowledge the emotion, 2.) uncover what is fueling the emotion, 3.) express the emotion in appropriate ways, and 4.) wait for facts before responding with irrevocable actions.
Dealing with JEALOUSY? Here is your challenge:
1.) Which of the 3 definitions of jealousy listed above best define they type of jealousy you are experiencing?
2.) Exactly what are you jealous of?
3.) Review the list of indicators listed above. Which ones are experiencing? (If you are experiencing things that are not listed include them as well.)
4.) Take a moment to reflect on your jealousy. Are they symptoms of infection? If yes, what are they? (If necessary take some time to review the lessons on forgiveness and take appropriate steps.)
5.) What needs is your jealousy indicating that you have? What can you do to get those needs met?
6.) Practice expressing your emotion. If the emotion has given you a lot of pent up physical energy engage in some healthy physical activity like running, walking, biking, swimming. If it has given you a flood of emotional energy write out your emotions and thoughts in your journal in a prayer to God. Try expressing your emotion to a trusted friend or loved one using the statement: “I feel jealous when…..”.
7.) Take action. Seek God. Get the facts. Accept reality. Make changes as necessary.
I confess that I struggle with jealousy. It is so easy to compare myself to others and find myself coming up short. My insecurities will often overwhelm me if I let them. Help me become so content with what you have given me that I am able to honestly and truly rejoice over the success of others. Help me to keep my focus on you and build my faith in who you are and who you say I am. Help me to trust you and to act in obedience to all you have said.
I can’t thank you enough for loving me. I acknowledge that you are a jealous God and in your jealousy there is no sin. Thank you for making me your beloved. Thank you for your fierce protection of me and your vigilance over me. Help me to reflect your character when I experience the emotion of jealousy. Show me how to be more loving in my interactions with others, more truthful with myself, and more honoring to you.
In Jesus Name-Amen
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
A heart at peace gives life to the bod, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Where jealousy and selfishness are there will be confusion and evil of every kind. (James 3-16)
MEDITATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT:
Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord ; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. The blameless spend their days under the Lord ’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. But the wicked will perish: Though the Lord ’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke. The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed. The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing. Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed ; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip. The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death; but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial. Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it. I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked. The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord ; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.