The Emptiness of Envy


“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every evil thing.”
James 3:16

Portrait of a womanNatale Schiavoni via Wikimedia Commons

Jealousy and Envy.  How many of us are willing to admit these two things have any place in our head or heart.  Perhaps, not many but instead of throwing you all under the bus, today I will share my personal struggle with these things. It is a mighty struggle, and very much related to many of my other ongoing battles with forgiveness, anxiety and even overeating.

Every morning I have the same routine – wake up, say a quick prayer, make coffee, jump on the internet.  Where I then search, read, and share Catholic content from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, just to name a few. I sometimes spend hours looking at all the great things other people are saying, doing and photographing.

It seems all well and fine while I’m online.  I am excited by all the amazing things God is doing with so many amazing people who are willing to answer YES to God’s call to serve and share His Good News. Yet, quietly, almost unnoticeable something is happening that if left unchecked will be a great tool for the enemy.  As I explore, read, and re-post comparisons develop.  As I become aware of other people’s opportunities or good fortune, a seed of sadness sometimes grows. As I look at the shiny coverings of the Catholic bloggers, media savvy posters and New Evangelizers, my own shell appears duller and duller. Insecurity creeps in as I look at the degrees people hold, ideas they had first, and books they’ve been blessed to have published – and discouragement overtakes me.  It is subtle, it may even go undetected for a while – but it is there and I know it because my JOY wanes and anxiety abounds.

So there you have it – my weakest link – I am an incredibly jealous and envious person. It is a battle I have to consciously fight every day. The evil thing and disorder that St. James speaks about is how the enemy can use it to either paralyze me or blind me to what other’s have to offer. It isn’t all on Satan either – he may get the ball rolling, but I do just fine and dandy keeping the momentum going all on my own! Recognizing these temptations and flaws of my nature are an important first step in overcoming them.  Aside from acknowledging them, I’ve also learned that my faith offers some incredibly helpful assistance as well!

Battling Envy with the Tools of Faith

These are the tools I utilize (daily) to wage war against them – so that I can remain focused on doing the “Will of the One who sent me,” (John 6:38), and not frozen in my own insecurity.

  1. Prayer – I open up dialog with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So I may open myself to hear and respond to  God’s Will for me. I also seek intercession and guidance from Our Blessed Mother and the Saints.
  2. Sacraments – I am blessed to have what I call the Spiritual Trifecta every Friday – Reconciliation, Mass, and a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. I rely very heavily on the grace of the Sacraments to keep me focused outwardly on God and not inward!
  3. Spiritual Direction – I am not in this alone. Thoughts keep inside remain in the dark, where the prince of darkness reigns, but when I speak them into the light the Prince of Light casts His love over them.
  4. Scripture – I turn to the Word of God to stay grounded in Truth and not the lies of the enemy or my own head. St. Paul’s words in 1 Cor 12:27-31 (NASB) have become my greatest weapon. This reminder that I have my own charge by God – and all the gifts and talents I need to accomplish what He calls me to. The beauty of Church is we NEED each other, we are all in this together, and it is working in communion with each other that God is truly Glorified, and His work and will be done. Life is not a competition but a coming together.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets,
third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings,
helps,administrations, various kinds of tongues.
All are not apostles, are they?
All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they?
All are not workers of miracles, are they?  

All do not have gifts of healings, do they?
All do not speak with tongues, do they?
All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And I show you a still more excellent way.
​~ 1 Cor 12:27-31

Lastly, strength to overcome my struggle with envy, also comes from remembering only I can complete the plan and purpose God has for me.  No one else can experiences Christ in the same way I do.  If I am a teacher, and there are thousands of other teachers, still no one else has my students or presents the lessons in my unique way.  As a chef, musician or poet – although thousands will be given the same ingredients, notes and words, no one will interpret them the same way.  God’s plan for me, is uniquely, beautifully and perfectly designed just for me.

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

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