The Sin We Don't Want To Admit

The Sin I Hate to Admit to is Envy

A few years ago I was sitting in a conference hall awaiting the next speaker.  It was Jeff Cavins and he was coming up to speak about envy.  I actually contemplated going to do something else for that hour because although I knew I had an occasional issue with jealousy, I was all set in the envy arena. OH my, was I wrong!!  Probably why the Spirit sat me mid-row that day; and as I looked down the row and realized how many people I’d have to vault and navigate to leave, I decided to leave my bottom planted and listen.

The First Tough Lesson

Envy is a much more sinister emotion than jealousy.  It is not wanting us both to have the promotion, healthy body or fancy car – it is an actual sadness that the other does and you do not.  For me, there is a feeling of defeat especially if it is an idea I have contemplated but never acted on.  Perhaps my envy is also mixed in with my personal disappointment that I’d allowed procrastination or doubt keep me from following through again; but still I should not be so sad that another is being blessed! 

This is one of the best explanations of envy I have found, written by Fall River Diocesan priest, Fr. Thomas Kocik, as part of an article called, The Seven Deadly Sins — and their Remedies, in which he says, “Envy poisons our whole being. Because Cain was envious of his brother Abel, he “was very angry, and his countenance fell” (Gen 4:5). Because the sons of Jacob envied their brother Joseph, “they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him” (Gen 37:4). Because Saul was envious of David, he “eyed David from that day on” (1 Sam 18:9). “Jealousy and anger shorten life, and anxiety brings on old age too soon” (Sir 30:24).”

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 
Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another,
no envy of one another.  ~  Galatians 5:25-26

Social Media has Absolutely Fueled This Sin

 Every morning I have the same routine – wake up, say a quick prayer, make coffee, jump on the Social Media.  Where I then search, read, and share Catholic content from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+.  I sometimes spend hours perusing through all the great things other people are saying, doing and photographing; however, what I should be doing is admiring it not allowing it to deflate me.  Admiration is the opposing virtue to the vice of envy therefore the most powerful weapon against falling into that sinful behaviors that can accompany envy.

As I explore, read, and yes even re-post comparisons develop.  As I become aware of other people’s opportunities or good fortune, a seed of sadness grows. As I look at the shiny coverings of the other Catholic  (or otherwise) bloggers, media savvy eye-catching and entertaining posts or the bevvy of shared good news, my own efforts appears duller and duller. Insecurity creeps in as I look at the degrees people hold, ideas they had the ‘luck’ to share first, the whole myriad of successes they or their family are blessed to have. Some days the dark shadow of discouragement bought on my envy overtakes me.  It can be subtle and may even go undetected for a while but I know it is there because I can feel my JOY wane and all too often my anxiety abound.

So there you have it – my weakest link – I am an incredibly envious person. It is a battle that every day I have to consistently and consciously fight. 

My Personal Remedies for Envy (and many other things)!

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 paralyzed by 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.  We are the Body of Christ not the Eye or Hand of Christ. We are many parts with one purpose but if we were all called to the same purpose there would be many important things left undone.
  2. Sacraments – I try to participate in what I call the Spiritual Trifecta – Reconciliation, Mass, and a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament – at least once a month. I rely very heavily on the grace of the Sacraments to keep me focused outwardly on God and not inward! The grace of my Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Matrimony are also places to strengthen my resolve to admire more and envy less.
  3. Spiritual Direction – I am not in this alone. Thoughts kept 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.  If you are struggling to find a Spiritual Director, find a godly friend who will pray with and for you, as well as join a faith sharing group.
  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.
  5. Forced Virtue – Sometimes you need to fake it until you make it. In practicing the virtue of admiration, I am combating my natural tendency to envy.  The more sadness I feel towards a particular situation, the more I know I need to step up and congratulate, celebrate and yes even share that person’s blessing.  The fact that the entire premise of A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras (my radio show on Breadbox Media) morphed before my eyes into the celebrating the great work and accomplishments of others (especially the work I longed to do) was never lost on me.

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017

This desire to conquer my envious tendencies and celebrate the awesomeness of others was actually the genesis of #WorthRevisit !

Worth The Revisit Graphic