I battle with being envious. I would say I struggle with it, but I think battle is a better word choice. Because I literally feel like I am wrestling and punching envy in the face. Every day.
It’s embarrassing. And the people closest to me see it in my body language, sarcasm, and text messages.
It’s not that I covet what others have. I don’t want them to lose what they have. I just want us both to have it. Which is still infantile. I compare myself to most people around me and wonder why my hand of cards is full of whatever cards are undesirable. I just realized I don’t know anything about cards. This analogy didn’t work out…like a lot of things in my life right now.
I read an article the other day where a dad said he had never, not even once, wondered what his kid would’ve been like without a disability. He said that he just embraced it from day one and makes the best of every moment. Well, he’s a saint. Because I think about it everyday. I wonder what Adelaide would’ve been like without a genetic abnormality…if that’s even what happened. We honestly have zero clues about what caused Adelaide’s disabilities. But I don’t make the most of it. And I find myself envious, just for a moment, of a man who can live his life never wondering. And I keep envy in check when I hear people talk about their ‘perfect’ babies. But it’s not easy.
I am envious when I see people with passive, compliant children. I don’t want everyone to have strong-willed kids who stretch you to your breaking point everyday. I just wonder how I ended up with two strong-willed kids. Two-thirds of my children. Some people have double the number of children I have, and all their children listen and obey and smile at strangers. Not mine. Two of them are acting like escapees from a chain gang, while the other is trying to eat her poop. It’s exhausting. And parents of compliant kids seem to be having more fun with life.
I get envious when people make money. Because I can’t. I’ve tried. A lot. And I fail. I’ve closed two businesses in less than 4 years. And I can’t even sell stuff in local groups. Or at consignment sales. I have wasted so much time trying to make money. And end up losing us money. So I sometimes envy women who can list the stuff they would throw in the trash and people throw themselves at the opportunity to buy it. Or they are successful in business and are able to provide for their families. If I even wanted to go back to my career-before-kids, I wouldn’t make money. I was a special education teacher. I would spend my entire paycheck on daycare for Adelaide. And there are zero daycares that would even take Graham and Bess.
Don’t even start on blogs or books or articles. This seems to be my biggest envy trap. I can’t make money with my writing. I’ve been turned down three times as many times as I’ve been published. And unless I’m writing something controversial, people don’t read my writing. Other bloggers can write about how they wash their dishes and get 27 comments and a book deal. I share my heart and get weird private messages about how I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t know my own opinions and feelings? I tried affiliate links for a season. I lost half my readers and made $6.50. So I bought goodies for our sponsor kids. I can’t make money and I can’t grow a community…whatever that means. I’ve tried to emulate the successful mommy bloggers, and it doesn’t work for me.
I also envy people with awesome dads. Because my ‘dad’ is an imprisoned sex offender and the only man who was like a dad to me died of cancer. And Dave’s dad died of a heart attack. I don’t want everyone to have bad dads or dead dads. I just hate being in this camp. It’s one of the worst camps. Because everyone wants a dad. It’s completely normal. And I don’t have one.
I envy people who know their purpose. Their God-sized dream. The reason they wake up in the morning and give it their all. I don’t. I wake up wondering how I’m going to get through the day and do everything Adelaide needs done. And I tried to read a stack of ‘find your purpose’ books, which sent me into a dark place. I envy those people who are passionate about their goals and dreams. I don’t even have any.
When I shared all of this with Dave, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, he took my hand and told me that he didn’t have any answers. Except something his dad used to say. That we don’t compare ourselves to others when we are fearing God. When we fear man, we focus on others. Fearing God means realizing that God is holy and perfect and omniscient and omnipotent. It shifts our focus.
When I look to God and confess, “I want what I don’t have and I don’t understand why I don’t have it.” He shows me all that He has already given me. Salvation and relationship. It doesn’t erase my natural inclination to be envious. Always thinking, “What am I doing wrong? Why don’t I have this and that and them?” The focus is still on me.
A couple weeks back, my pastor quoted Numbers 6:24-26.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you, The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
I jotted down in my notes: the juxtaposition of turning His face when Jesus was on the cross absorbing all the wrath.
God had to turn His face from His Son, so that He could look on me now. And I’m envious of the people around me, because I stopped looking into His face. I ceased fearing Him the way He deserves. A completely Holy God who wants fellowship with me. This frazzled woman, who feels broken and rejected and lonely. Whose kids are so high-maintenance. Whose words don’t go very far. Whose purpose seems foggy. He holds my face and says, “Stop looking around so much. Just look to me.” The answer to an envious heart isn’t trying to rid myself of envy. The answer is in changing my gaze. Eye contact and heart connection with the One I should be fearing.