That four-letter word

That four-letter word.

No, not that word.

It’s not dirty or profane, but it’s full of rottenness.

Envy.

I think most writers go through a time when they have to do battle with it head-on.

Envy just doesn’t play fair.

There you are, minding your own business in a bookstore, one of your favorite places in the world, and the latest books by not one, but more of your friends is on the shelf.

And yours? Ah, what book?

Even if said book exists, for some reason yours isn’t there with the others.

Some have said people who battle envy become that way because they’re not willing to work like the other person has for that splendid result. Not necessarily so.

Most days I can go through a bookstore just fine. Others, that old envy sneaks up and bumps into me.

Maybe you’re not an author, but you pop onto Facebook for a few moments and see photos of people’s vacations, perfect children who are doctors and lawyers and such, smiling friends squishing together in one massive selfie, or the latest craft project that would make Martha Stewart take notes. Or you read a gushing post about someone’s absolutely wonderful day. And gradually, what you have doesn’t seem as great. Or, if you’re going through a tough time, that time feels a whole lot tougher. You just want to breathe a little easier.

Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.” – Jean Vanier

I don’t know who he was, but that’s pretty close to right-on. Many writers, though, if they know they can write—and write well—sometimes get the feeling of being passed by when it seems like others are moving forward. For me, when it arrives, it comes from frustration during those waiting times.

Envy comes from comparisons, too. If we’re not passed by, maybe it feels as if what others have is better, faster, prettier, newer, more special, you fill in the blank.

Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” – Harold Coffin

Ah, yes, envy involves counting and keeping score. Like toddlers, when we have a perfectly good blue car, we see another toddler with a red car. And that red car is THE car we want. Nothing’s wrong with blue. We want to hold onto the blue or throw it to the side and grab for the red.

Envy goes hand in hand with discontentment. They spin ’round and ’round together, each feeding off the other and becoming stronger.

“…envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galations 5:22

Oh, great. Envy is on the naughty list. As in, the really bad naughty list of works of the flesh. We feel pretty self-righteous when we skim over that naughty list and congratulate ourselves on how good we are if we don’t do those things. But that little envy thing…so sneaky.

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” – Proverbs 14:30

Oh, envy. It can make us sick. Envy can make us feel like the victim, as if life or circumstances are just unfair. We believe we are the wounded ones, but we’re the ones hurting ourselves from the inside out.

Envy is a few steps from crossing the line to believing God has dropped the ball and He really doesn’t have our best interests at heart. Just like Eve. One little deception.

And it can start from one little stroll in the bookstore or one swipe of the screen on a tablet.

Lord, help us not to lose sight of what You’ve given us. Let us not tread a wilderness path coming from unthankfulness and ungratefulness. Help us know that what You have for us are good gifts, perfect gifts, in spite of our current trying or disappointing circumstances. – Amen.

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