Our priest spoke about envy in his homily yesterday. He said he suffers with it from time to time.
And the truth is, so do I.
It’s such an ugly thing to admit. It’s embarrassing. And, it’s destructive.
It can just devour you.
It steals from us joy, peace, and gratitude.
You can’t be grateful for something while also being envious. The two seem to cancel each other out.
So I try — my husband and I — both, to be intentional about what we’re grateful for each day. We share three things that we’re grateful for, usually around dinnertime.
It was hard at first. But it has become easier the more we do it.
And with each thing we mention with gratitude that day, the envy of another thing dissipates.
Something else that helps me with envy: the realization that we all carry a cross. Many are invisible, even some of mine. And yet, they’re still there. If you get to know a person well enough, you get to see them eventually too, their crosses. And so… getting to know the person I’m envious of; that also quiets the envy.
Because I think envy is a thing of superficial reality; not of what’s truly there. Envy is the pseudo-reality of what I create without much interaction; not the reality of what I get to know when I listen, when I get close, when I get to know another. And it’s a cross that I create for myself that doesn’t bear any fruit or grace.
When we think we see the bigger picture when see someone else with their many blessings, we have to remind ourselves that there are many things happening outside of that picture that we don’t see. And while someone may have the blessings we long for, they may also be carrying a cross that would break our backs.
And vice versa.
God is good. God is generous. He loves us individually. Personally. We are unrepeatable beings to Him. We are precious to Him.
And so He gives. He gives us what is good for us, and He gives others what is good for them.
He doesn’t give it to them instead of to us.
He doesn’t choose to give it to them and then runs out of the good for us.
No, He looks at us, lovingly, as if we are the only one He sees when He casts His eyes on us. And He cares for us and for what our hearts desire.
And the truth is that we are all so undeserving, anyhow, of those blessings. Don’t you think? This too helps me with envy… Blessings are not rights, they are not goods that we earn with deeds or even with faith. We don’t get them when we become deserving of them as if it’s a checkbox to mark –some kind of accomplishment or recognition. I don’t even know necessarily what they are, but I do know that even my crosses have been a blessing for me at times, and I know that some others’ blessings have been their burdens at times too.
And I know that these experiences are not so isolated. They are the shared experience of this life.
And that, also, is something we are called to do with both our blessings and our burdens: to share them. And again, this helps close the door on envy.
To share our blessings: to praise God. To share our blessings and our burdens: to raise another one to God. To share them so that we can ask others to lift us up to Him too.
If you struggle with envy, I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that other Catholic and Christian women struggle with this this too. And at times, that’s me. I hope that we can help each other through those times with the reminder that there is always more to see, more to know, and more to understand than what we’ve put together in our mind. And, that God absolutely loves us each of us. Even when we can’t fathom it.