Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Green With Envy Blues

"It's not FAIR!" Ah, the war cry of the six year old. The statement remains even twenty years later though, why did she get two cookies, but I only got ONE? Why is my friend the cute, petite blond and I have glasses, braces & frizzy hair?

We'd like to think jealousy is a characteristic left in elementary school, but it's not. My Bible study is doing a video series that talked about jealousy & envy this week and it really hit home to me. Jealousy is basically wanting what someone else has since you feel you are entitled to it. Yeah, adults get jealous. The problem with adults though is we tend to STAY jealous without knowing it, and that's a bitter, bitter load to carry around in life.

Most people think of jealousy in terms of possessions like houses or cars, but it can extend to anything that we feel entitled to- getting good grades, having responsible children, getting a trophy spouse, receiving a promotion, coming up with a good idea, having a successful blog, being healthy and even just being happy. We want life to work like a vending machine, we put in something, for example hard work, & expect to magically receive a raise & promotion. We put in exercising 3-5 times a week and expect to be healthy, fit & ready for the cover of Shape magazine.

But life doesn't always boil down that way. The promotion goes to Ed in accounting & the shape ends up being a size 16. Instead of embracing what Mom always told us, "Life's not fair, you just have to do the best you can," we decide to hate Ed forever & blatantly shun anyone who looks to have a BMI under 25. We tell our friends that Ed is an anti-social, happiness hater & decide that all skinny people obviously have mental issues and eating disorders. But here's the worst part, we get a little twinge of satisfaction when we realize that Ed has been late three days in a row and the skinny-mini at the gym looks like she's putting on a little around her middle. Yes! They're not perfect either! I'm justified!

After thinking about the jealousy thing, I realized I was jealous of several people out there. I knew I had something against these people, I just couldn't figure out what, but now I know! Yeah, I felt super immature. And it's totally stupid to feel better about myself when someone else experiences misfortune. That's just not right.

But one point about jealousy in particular struck me- why do we take out our jealousy on completely innocent people when we are in fact shaking our fist in fury at God/life/fate for not making things FAIR? However, we don't really want things to be fair. We want everyone else to have equally distributed possessions, body fat, money & personality traits as longs as ours are just slightly better. We haven't evolved much past the six year old really.

So here's what I'm doing about jealousy-
1.) Recognize when I'm feeling jealous
a.) Am I rejoicing when someone else fails?
b.) Do I feel uncomfortable around this person because, "they're too nice," or "they're too perfect," or "they don't appreciate what they have. If I had that I would..."
2.) Recognize I am actually entitled to absolutely nothing
3.) Accept the fact that I have not been given this thing (or at least not yet)
4.) Be ok with that and don't get mad at the person who has this thing
5.) Recognize that God is good all of the time no matter what
6.) Move on with life

And some of my favorite jealousy references from back in the day-

Anybody remember watching Disney Sing Alongs? On the "Fun With Music" one, a track is called "Green With Envy Blues." I think it's really about colors, but the title makes a lot of sense now that I'm older.

Veggie Tales: The Water Buffalo Song- "You can't say everyone has a water buffalo because everyone does NOT have a water buffalo. We're going to get nasty letters saying, 'Where's MY water buffalo? Why don't I have a water buffalo?' And are you prepared to deal with that? I don't think so."

Both songs can be listened to on grooveshark.com.


  1. Great post. I wish I could say that I never felt envious of others, but I do. Like you say, getting the proper perspective on it makes all the difference in the world. I'll be sure to keep your jealousy countermeasures list handy when these situations arise, especially #2 and #5.

  2. Well said. I think a major key is to realize the results are the fruits of our effort. Sure, there are spoiled brats who have had everything handed to them, yet most people receive the tangible things at the end of some sort of quality performance. They take steps to foster relationships or develop innovative applications for their ideas. All of these are blessings and, at least in my life, sometimes it's difficult to understand my envy's roots in a subconscious (or even conscious) realization I could have done better.