Did you know it’s awfully hard to bless someone you’re jealous of? When you’re wishing for somebody else’s stuff—their lifestyle, their looks, their money or talents—it’s easy to see that person as competition. Which means—admit it—you’d rather see them kicked down than built up.
The envy weed blossoms in ways we least expect.
“Mom, Cyrus and Anna are really good readers.” My younger daughter told me this news one day after I picked her up from kindergarten. “They go to their own special reading class because they are so, so good at reading. And Mom, they’re reading Charlotte’s Web! Isn’t that really good?”
“That’s wonderful, sweetheart.” My nerves bristled even as I smiled at my daughter. “I’m glad you’re happy that your friends are good at reading.”
“You know,” I said, “different kids are good at different things. Cyrus and Anna are good at reading. But you are good at math and playing piano, and lots of other things.”
“I know, Mom.” She shrugged as if those facts were irrelevant. I mean, we were talking about Cyrus and Anna here. What did her skills have to do with this conversation?
And that’s when I realized—my daughter’s intentions were pure. She was genuinely happy for her friends. There was not a shred of envy present anywhere in her mind.
But there was in mine.
I mean, come on, Charlotte’s Web? In kindergarten?
I’ll confess my first thought was this: Your big sister read Charlotte’s Web in kindergarten. So there you have it. We’re smart, too.
And my second thought was this: Is my five-year-old falling behind???
Do you see how quickly envy and comparison can sneak in and twist an intelligent woman’s brain? Instead of encouraging my child’s desire to celebrate her friends, I turned my focus inward. I attempted to protect our own status rather than applaud someone else’s. And I missed out on sharing with my daughter a beautiful quality that is quite the opposite of envy.
When was the last time you were genuinely happy for someone who got something you wanted? I’m talking joy unblemished by jealousy or self-concern.
The trouble with envy is that it makes life so much more complicated. We start questioning ourselves, our abilities, and our gifts. We doubt God’s goodness toward us, as if He doesn’t know what’s
best for us, or worse, He does, and He’s refusing to give it.
We know better than that.
“For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11 NLT, emphasis added)
So maybe it really is as simple as this: be happy for other people—period. Realize that another person’s gain is not your loss. God ordains joy and sadness in every life. Let’s support one another through it, and encourage our kids to do the same.
Today’s story is an excerpt from Becky Kopitzke’s newly released book, Generous Love: Discover the Joy of Living “Others First” from Baker Publishing.
Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” and “Generous Love: Discover the Joy of Living ‘Others First’. Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.