Jealousy is like a hungry shark, swimming just below the surface of our thoughts. When we give it an opening, its sharp, jagged teeth snap a bite out of our joy and drag it under the surface.
Lurking next to this predator named Jealousy is its twin sister, Insecurity. Together, the two can twist our thoughts and hearts into one giant mess.
Confessions of a jealous person:
Over the past few years, I’ve watched a beautiful acquaintance get several things I wanted. A book deal, amazing reviews by amazing people, lovely covers, awards, and more book deals. Each time I saw a new accolade come out for her, painful little splinters of Jealousy invaded my heart. Soon after, Insecurity joined the party and I began to doubt my own abilities.
I wondered if any of those things would ever happen for me. As I let those emotions fester, anger joined them, like it was somehow my friend’s fault that I didn’t get what she did.
Searching our Hearts
Have you ever felt jealous when a friend, or even someone you don’t know, gets what you want? If you’re human, the answer is probably yes.
These jealous moments will look different depending on your season of life. Perhaps as a teen it might be that your friend has an amazing and attentive boyfriend, someone has a best friend and you don’t, a friend got a high test grade without studying, or another friend got a car. As a young adult, it might be that your friend got a better job offer, a proposal, a gift, a moment in the spotlight. As you get to your mid-twenties, you see others get a house, a fantastic kitchen, a thin figure, kids that don’t strip off their underwear in public… The list could go on to infinity.
These jealous thoughts, wanting what she has, can lead us straight into the jaws of insecurity where we are chewed up by the lie that we’re not good enough because we don’t have that.
And yes, that is a big, fat lie.
A lie that is so easy to believe.
But there is hope.
How do we overcome jealousy and insecurity?
The human heart is complex, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that our heart is a follower. Our heart follows our thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the opposite. Sometimes we listen to our heart and let our thoughts follow.
For instance, when I felt that jealous twinge toward my author acquaintance, I had a choice whether or not to linger on that emotion. When I dwelled on that emotion of jealousy, I made it bigger. The more I let those jealous thoughts fester, the more I felt jealous.
It’s a vicious cycle.
One we can defeat.
To overcome jealousy and insecurity, we can thank God for another’s success.
This can seem difficult when we’re not getting what we want, but at the same time, when we take the active step to be thankful for that other person’s success, something amazing happens in our hearts. Our emotions will line up with our thoughts. The more we say we’re thankful for that others person’s blessings, the more we’ll feel thankful. We serve a generous God. Celebrating His generosity towards others is another way we can worship Him.
To overcome jealousy and insecurity, we can pray for the other person.
In addition to thanking God for what He has given to others, we can pray for their continued success. Does this seem difficult to you? I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is, but again, something amazing happens to our hearts when we lead it in this direction. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. In doing so, He gives us His love for people. The same goes when we feel jealous.
To overcome jealousy and insecurity, we can thank God for what he has given us.
Sometimes thanking God for what we have is difficult, especially when we’re in painful spots. But when we take time to think it through, there are always things we can thank God for. I’ve had some painful experiences in my life. In my twenties, I seemed destined to be single forever while most of my close friends got married. In my thirties, I watched my child with special needs struggle, and I had cancer.
But there were huge blessings in each of those painful spots. I experienced a depth of God’s peace and grace that some people might not ever know. I grew as a person and grew closer to God. I’ve learned that sometimes the biggest blessings can be found in the most difficult of times. For that, I will always be grateful. Dwelling on those blessings helps me to focus my thoughts on being thankful and my heart will often follow along.
To overcome jealousy and insecurity, we can gain some perspective.
When we step back and look at life from a long-term view, we can see that God blesses all of us in different ways. Maybe your friend gets something you want this year, but you never know what God has in store for you next year.
And when He says no, God could be protecting us.
In my case of author jealousy, when I step back and look at the circumstances of my life, I can see God’s protection. My family isn’t in a place where we could handle the pressures of me having a book contract, and I still have some more to learn about the art of writing before I can handle deadlines. I am thankful for God’s protection!
To overcome jealousy and insecurity, we can stop comparing.
In her book Unglued—Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, Lysa TerKeurtst says, “Comparison steals celebration.” Comparison robs us of our joy. When we focus on others’ situations, we waste the energy God has given us to deal with our own lives. Comparison and jealousy are distractions. Lysa says, “It is a lie straight from Satan that I’d be happier and more content with someone else’s load.”
Comparison leads to insecurity. When we compare, we create what Lysa calls “negative chatter.” These negative thoughts take root in our hearts. They lead us to believe that we are less than someone else. I struggle in this area when I read through social media sites. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes when I see people’s posts about their awesome lives, I feel that seed of comparison take root: She does things better than I do. She has more energy. She looks better than I do.
The list can go on and on.
In these moments, I have to step back and go through the process of thanking God for what He has given me and for what He has given those other people. And sometimes I stay away from looking at social media until I’m in a better place.
To overcome jealousy and insecurity, we can keep our eyes focused up, on Jesus, rather than sideways on others.
Jesus is the giver of all things. Sometimes I think my jealousy and insecurity are rooted in not fully trusting Jesus–not an easy thing to admit! But when I think about it, if I’m surrendered, if I truly believe and trust God to be in control, then I should be content with what He’s given me. I should spend less time looking sideways at others and more time looking up and focusing on Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-9 tells us:
6-7 “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9 “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (MSG)
To combat jealousy, we should celebrate with others and celebrate the goodness of God. Even when we don’t feel like it at first, we can eventually come to the point where we do feel genuine joy for others.
So, pray for others in their victories. Thank God that He has generously shown His love to your sisters and brothers. Thank God for what He has given you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thank Him for the eternal future we have with Him. Thank Him, knowing that all good things come from Him.
Have you ever struggled with jealousy or insecurity? How did you handle those feelings?