I remember sitting in class while three of my classmates led the discussion. They talked about a retreat we came back from. My two female classmates were sharing their experience while my male classmate facilitated. I was furious. I’m one of the leaders of the class and I was on the retreat, yet no one asked me to lead. Even worse, my male classmate wasn’t there. It was a women’s retreat. I tried to keep my emotions to myself, but the more the guy interjected the madder I became. Finally I lashed out at the guy and before I could stop myself the words left my lips.
Me: Stop interrupting and let the girls speak. You weren’t even there.
Him: [shocked] I was asked by the teacher to help facilitate.
Me: [embarrassed] I’m just playing with you
But I wasn’t. I wanted answers. I wanted justice. I wanted to know what I was feeling… The anger welled up in my stomach, and I felt something squeezing my heart. I heard a voice taunting me, “They’re replacing you!” When I got home that night I cried out to God, “What’s wrong with me?”
It wasn’t just that moment. I also felt this way at work. At the time, I just started a new position and one of the girls on my team had been there for years. She was my age and although we had the same position, she seemed to be higher than me. She made the decisions, she managed the team, she hired the new team members and I was mad because I wanted to do that. This was the second time that I worked with someone MY age who seemed to be in a better position than me. When was it going to be my turn?
As I laid on the floor crying it hit me. I knew exactly what I was feeling; yet I choked the words down. I feared what would happen if I actually admitted it. But I knew that in order for it to lose its power over me, I needed to speak its name. I was JEALOUS. As I let the words leave my lips I felt so embarrassed. How could I be jealous? I said to God, “I no longer want to feel this way. Please heal me.” Immediately the work began.
JEALOUSY – Worrying that someone will take what you have and feeling like you will go without.
The following week, I went back to class and the teacher taught on James 4:1-2.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.”
My mind was blown. I had read these verses several times, but it never hit me until that moment. I lashed out on my male classmate because my desires were raging inside me. I have so many gifts and talents, but I felt stunted in my role. I was so tired of always taking the backseat to someone who knew/did less than me. When will it be my turn?
God reminded me that my turn is coming. I just needed to be patient and let Him finish the work in me BEFORE He released me. He actually told me, “What’s for you is for you and only for you.” Which meant that I was not forgotten nor left out. Although I felt like it was my turn, it wasn’t. I needed to remain submitted to God as He prepared what was mine. That gave me so much peace. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in last place.
Where did this all begin? When did I first start feeling like I was last? God took me down memory lane. I remember in my mid 20s, I was interviewing for my dream job and salary. If I got it, this meant that I would be in a good place financially. When I didn’t get the job my mom said to me, “I was really hoping you’d get it. It seems like we never get those opportunities. Our family is always last.” I cried. I felt and believed it. Years later in my early 30s, I was cooking and my mom said to me, “I can’t wait for you to be married. I’m just thinking everyone else is getting married and it seems like you all are last. Like this family is last. What’s taking God so long?” I was noticing a pattern. Was my family cursed? Were we destined to finish last? I thought about our poverty, our debt, our lack of marriages, and lack of fathers. I felt overwhelming anger. God showed me that this feeling of “last” ran deep in my family and was surfacing as jealousy.
So one night, I told God exactly how I felt. I felt left out. I felt overlooked. I felt slighted. I work hard, I’m doing HIS work, and I’m helping HIS people, why are other people getting blessed before me? I felt like the Prodigal Son’s brother, after the Prodigal son returned home and his father threw him a party.
Luke 15:28-31 reads: “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
After I told God how I felt, His response was not what I expected. I felt an overwhelming feeling of love. God’s love. And it felt great. It was warming. It was peaceful. I felt like I was enough. God said to me, “When you’re feeling jealous, you’re actually feeling a lack of love from me. So look to me.” I was in awe. How could a perfect God love someone flawed like me? Someone filled with jealousy and rage. I mean I practically yelled at Him, yet He responded in love. Too many times we’re afraid to tell God how we truly feel because we think we’re being ungrateful.
He is perfectly capable of handling all of our emotions especially because He gave it to us. And His response is not like how people respond. He notices we have a deficiency and He fills us up instantly.
2 Corinthians 12:9 reads: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
After my revelation, doors started opening. But not for me. For my closest friends. Left and right God blessed my friends with new jobs, pay increases, new homes, marriages and more. Was this a test? Absolutely. As they shared their stories with me, initially I was fine, but days later jealousy reared its ugly head. I submitted to God and He filled me up with love. It was like my special download. The more my friends shared with me the more I rebuked jealousy and asked God for love. It was so powerful that as soon as an inkling of jealousy arose God shared His love with me. I was cured. Right?
ENVY – Wanting what someone else has.
I prayed to God for something I really desired. I just knew He was going to bless me… BUT He blessed my friend instead. He blessed my friend with my exact prayer. I couldn’t understand why until I started having thoughts about my friend. It wasn’t evil thoughts, but it was thoughts that made me feel like we had an issue with each other. Like the enemy was taunting me. Then I heard God say to me, “You want what she has?” And I responded, “No, I want what You have for me.” This went on for days until one morning, while doing devotion the writer talked about envy. Then I had the urge to define the difference between envy and jealousy. And it hit me. I was envious because what my friend had is what I wanted. As soon as I confessed it I felt free. I no longer had thoughts about her, but instead I praised and thanked God for what’s mine.
Recap: Overcoming Jealousy & Envy Process
- I identified what I was feeling
- I submitted the feelings to God
- I pinpointed the root of jealousy in my life
- I spoke honestly to God about it
- He filled me up with His love
- I was tested
- I was Victorious
I find myself asking less and less, “God, when is it my turn?” Instead I thank Him in advance for the blessings He has for me. When I feel jealousy coming on I turn to God and He showers me with love. If you’re struggling with jealousy and envy recognize that those feelings are feelings of lack and the only way to be full & overcome it is to turn to God.
Share your thoughts with me. What do you do when you feel jealous?
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