The neighborhood I grew up in was vibrant like most townships, children playing in the streets till the late hours of the day, people constantly roaming the streets. My mother didn’t allow me to play outside the gate so as an only child I’d watch other children through the gate yearning for companionship. We rented a backroom in this Old lady’s back yard before my mother bought her own house. She was a nice, that old lady, but she cared nothing for dolls.
She would look after me after school until my mother came back from work. She would chat to me and tell me all sorts of interesting stories, but my heart was on the other side of the gate where my age mates were getting so dirty they returned home resembling the dust they’d spent the whole day playing in. This quickly changed when my Mother brought home a friend. I was elated, she was my age and we played together in the yard whilst our mothers sat outside on a bench and laughed whispering things to each other and laughing out loud.
I don’t remember my little friends name but I remember going to her house for the first time one Saturday and I will never forget how many toys she had, different dolls, each with their only set of clothes. She had her own bedroom, which was new to me because I slept in the bed with my Mom. I remember feeling something and not being able to articulate exactly what it is I felt. I had one doll, which had one set of clothes, we had one bed, we lived in a backroom and here’s this princess living in a house, multiple dolls and other toys with her own bed, something didn’t add up.
I asked my mother why they had more things than us. She told me some story about my friend’s father and how he was a businessman and how wealthy they were. It just didn’t make any sense to me at that age and the more I played with her the less I seemed to like her. I decided solitude was better than this new found friendship. Which seemed to remind me of how much I lacked. Luckily my Mother brought a house and I forgot about my friend and what I felt everytime I went to her house.
I wish that feeling never resurfaced in life but it did, it happened in classrooms, in church, in friendships, in social group, in my community. Until I couldn’t escape it, everywhere I looked someone was better.
It doesn’t matter how well you think you’ve done in life, someone always seems to just have it all in every possible way. Just scroll through Instagram and you’ll see. There’s always a bigger house, a bigger car, a longer list of degrees, better skin, better hair, It’s all there. I didn’t know what that feeling was until later in life I realized it was jealousy. And we all feel it, we’ve all secretly resented someone because of what they’ve achieved and what they have.
feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.
My first attempt at solving this problem was to ignore it and pretend I was fine. This failed, you can only contain resentment for so long, eventually it exposes you and the dark thoughts you’ve harbored.
My second attempt was to compete, to secretly work at becoming better. This also didn’t work, what you attempt to achieve with effort some people achieve purely by talent.
“What you attempt to achieve with effort, some people achieve purely by talent”Why we don’t ever have to be jealous
All my previous attempts failed and that’s when I realized I needed to find a working solution and fast!
I had to be honest myself, I had to acknowledge the fact that I felt a certain way about people’s belongings and achievements and this okay, we don’t really choose how we feel. What I feel is not the problem.
Feelings arise as a reaction to our emotional responses. And they may differ from one person to another.
For example, the sight of tigers in a zoo might trigger admiration and awe in some. But others will feel anger and bitterness at the sight of caged animals, which they believe should run free.
Firstly I had to let go of comparison. I read a quote once that said: “comparison is the thief of all joy” my friends toys were not the problem, the problem was that when compared to my own they were better and this left me with a deep sense of inadequacy.
Comparison robs us of seeing what we truly have, when we spend our lives watching scales we rarely enjoy what we have. When we spend our lives looking at the greener grass it prevents us from watering our own. Your life is rarely empty usually it’s filled with neglected passions, relationships and dreams. When you spend your time wanting what others have you forget that you are truly capable of creating and somehow living your own dream.
This is Being warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received.
If we lack gratefulness it opens up a wide door of jealousy, as a child I lost sight of the fact the I had a doll, a place to sleep and a mother. I wasn’t thankful for these things, I didn’t realize that there are people who long to have them. Gratefulness is an art that we can learn, it doesn’t come naturally. I have learnt to be grateful for what I have. The more I started being grateful the more my life started being filled with blessings and this is a beautiful thing. Sometimes in life we need to count what we have and be grateful for it.I read about a woman once her name is Ann Voskamp, she wrote a book titled One thousand gifts and she said:
“Thanksgiving is the art of giving thanks in everything”
What have you overlooked whilst wishing you had more? What blessing is right in front of you but seems to be clouded by the blessings you see in other people’s lives? This is a beautiful practice and we need to begin living it.
Lack of faith
Lastly and most importantly jealousy stems from a lack of faith. When we forget that Christ is the ultimate treasure of our lives we will spend our time fixated with all the world has to offer and unfortunately Or rather I should say fortunately our souls were made for more.
“We were designed for more than the trivial pursuit of pleasure. The hard truth is that we will never find relief if we continue to seek it through possessions or through people. Seeking satisfaction in the things of this world is like chasing the wind. Once you’re finally exhausted and weary from your pursuit, you’re left empty-handed and disappointed. You’ve wasted valuable time chasing nothing when you could have been pursuing true joy and peace” ~Phillip Holmes
I don’t know what has made you jealous in life, I don’t know what the dolls and big house represent to you. I do know that it’s time we let go of the jealousy and embrace all that God has blessed us with. Some days it’s waking up and doing a mental recap of how blessed you are, sometimes it’s acknowledging that you’re not in competition with anyone because we’re all honestly trying yo make sense of life and most days we’re failing.
It’s understanding that social media is only a collection of the good moments in people’s lives no one posts the bad days, the issues they have, the struggles they deal with and where they’ve failed, this might mean taking time out to truly reflect on what matters in life.
It’s remembering that your life isn’t just meant to be a ladder to climb up but a table to welcome others to, let’s let go of the need to climb and begin to to invite people in to this freedom we have found. Because deep inside all of us is just a need to know that we’re loved. To know We’re seen and that we’re valued and we can find all of this in Christ.
And the next time jealousy rises in your heart remember: you are not a slave to comparison, gratefulness can be your response and lastly even before you achieved a single thing you were loved by God and this is enough. And this is why we never need to be jealous.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Life is Art.