By Nancy Virden (c) 2020
Two sisters, jealousy and envy, are destructive to our wellbeing. This series is looking at common depressive ways of thinking such as self-doubt, hopelessness, and toxic shame. The next two thought-processes that I have observed often accompanying depression are jealousy and envy.
Jealousy and Envy
Everyone is happy except for me. No one sees the pain behind my smile; Jack has a wonderful family; why can’t I have parents, a spouse, or children like that? Rhena has a dream job, must be nice. She’s had all the advantages. I want Thomas’ car. And just where does Terrie think she is going? I want her here with me!
“Jealousy” and “envy” are different in the sense that jealousy displays envy on steroids with a possessive quality. It can involve bitterness and controlling behaviors such as clinginess, or vengeance. To be jealous is to likely be suspicious with a heightened sense of insecurity. It is called a green-eyed monster for good reason.
James 3:16 (ESV) says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
Envy is insidious in a less obvious way. It is discontent with one’s situation as compared to another’s. This rouses a secret desire to have what belongs to someone else, or resentment over a person’s good fortune. Envy may lead to bitterness and jealousy.
Proverbs 14:30 (NIV) warns us. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
We want to be known and understood. All humans do. The only way for these needs to be met is if we reach out and honestly invest in perceiving each other’s reality.
How easy it is to assume things are ok with everyone else, or that they do not need a friend, or that they would be unreceptive, simply because we do not know them. And that is how people view us too. Jealousy and envy are rooted in superficial imaginations about the wonderfulness of a life we do not have.
All those “happy” people we see? They suffer from harsh diseases, fears for the future, loss of loved ones, disappointing relationships, and the threat of financial peril. That smile they wear is the same one we splat on our faces when we do not want to be brave and honest.
Love sets us free
The answer to jealousy and envy is to gain insight into real people and to actively and sincerely love them where they are. Not only do we need to be humble, but we also need to do for others what we would want them to do for us. In Galatians 5:14, Paul explains, “For the whole law [of God] can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
What if we practiced this Bible teaching on love? Galatians 6:2-5 says to “Share each other’s burdens…,” while Romans 12:9,15 read, “Love must be sincere… rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
By embracing the truth and dismissing imagination, our thoughts can lift out of life-draining jealousy and envy and rest in this contentment: Everyone, including me, has it good in some areas and not-so-good in other areas.
Let us then use our blessings to encourage each other.
Today’s Helpful Word
Once… our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!