Some thoughts on jealousy from a recent Watershed gathering
It starts when we’re young-
you’re on the playground at recess…
playing with friends…
when you notice that Joey over there seems to have more friends than you do…
everyone goes up to him to hang out, to ask what we’re doing today.
You seem to be off on your own.. on the edge of what’s happening.
Wishing they would come up to you instead…
And you get to high school and things aren’t so different
she seems to get whatever she wants.
Wears nicer clothes.
More boys ask her out.
She seems to laugh so easily.
And you sit alone, wishing the boys would glance at you for once instead…
And the years pass.
And you’re at work,
you’re doing well, and you’ve got a great idea for a new project
And you schedule a meeting with the boss…
And just as you are about to have your moment of glory.
He busts in unannounced and drops a folder on the bosses desk with some new proposal,
muttering some pathetic apology about not making an appt.
But before you can recover the boss is grinning from ear to ear and
heaping praise on him that should have been yours.
And the bitterness inside grows a little more.
Why do her kids always seem so well-behaved?
Why do they get to go on such great vacations?
Why does he get so much credit when I work just as hard?
Why don’t I have such a great house…?
Why didn’t my great play make the softball game recap?
Jealousy begins when the attention moves from “here” to “there”,
and in many ways is our natural response.
We don’t like that.
So what’s important is how we respond to those initial feelings.
Jealousy unchecked leads to discontentment, which leads to hatred, which leads to brokenness within us and around us.
1 Samuel 18 is a story that is all about jealousy and the downward spiral it can lead us on. David is becoming increasingly successful, and Saul cannot stand it. The attention is shifting to someone else, and the fire of Saul’s jealousy grows hotter and hotter. In the end, we read that Saul instructs his men and Jonathan to cause the death of David.
In other words, as long as I exist, he cannot.
This is jealousy full-grown.
We’re far more familiar with jealousy than we’d like to think. We live with jealousy. We know it well. And perhaps we’ve even begun to depend on it.
READINGS ON JEALOUSY
Jealousy has frightening eyes.
Jealousy has grinding teeth.
Jealousy has a cunning face.
Jealousy can live
Without a mind,
Without a heart,
Without a soul,
Even without God.
And divine ecstasy
Are eternal strangers.
an aggressive boxer,
A repulsive dancer,
A hopeless singer
And a useless storyteller.
Before you entered into my life,
I was the world’s
Now that you are in me
And I am for you,
I have become
The poorest street-beggar
You are my constant
You are my constant
You are your own
Shortest is the distance
From jealousy to hell.
POEM ON JEALOUSY
where do you erupt from,
when you rear your torrid head?
Seething like a volcano,
waiting to pour upon me
Something that I dread
Deep down inside me wells,
a flaming moment
Do not test me,
for I may sear your fragile wings
The curse of any sane man
A torrid lesson in the well of turbulence
Emotions of fear and loss,
do not tempt me with your plot
I tell you,
go to hell and rot
By Peta Cameron
We spend so much of our life comparing:
I wish I had his job, or her brains, or his personality, or her abilities.
We spend our lives wanting the attention, wanting to be front and center –
but the biblical writers continually state that only one deserves the glory – and it’s not us.
What would it look like to become a community of people who celebrate when others succeed? Who see someone else’s success as good for all of us?
Remember when the disciples argue about who will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven? What did Jesus say? “Whoever wants to be great must be your servant… Whoever wants to be first must become last.”
You see, in the kingdom of God, things are turned on their head.
When we try to exalt ourselves – more often than not, it backfires.
But when we swallow our pride,
when we serve in humility and obscurity,
when we wait in faith –
that’s when we see more clearly the God who is already in our midst.
That’s when we see Jesus,
who being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing.
If that’s the path Jesus had to walk for you and I,
what makes us think that following him is going to look any different?