Jealousy: “Hey, At Least I’m Not Envious!”

I love school. I always had. Sure, I had bad days just like anyone else, and drama days. But I love school. I loved most of my classes, most of my teachers, and honestly I just love to learn.

The reason I’m telling you this is to help you understand where I’m going next:

Right now, it’s not in the cards for me to go to school. We’ve got some family goals that are higher priority than me just fiddling around with classes just because I want to learn. It isn’t that I won’t ever, but it’s just not a wise decision right now. There’s more to it, but that should suffice to get my point across: no school for me right now.

Meanwhile, my husband, the brilliant writer and blogger Nathan Schaad, is in his last semester of a Master’s program. Namely, a Creative Writing Master’s program. He teaches one class this semester: Creative Writing. His thesis? To write a novel.

I’m not jealous, nooooooo. *funny laugh* Nope, not at all! Why would you ask?

…Oh. You didn’t.

The truth is, I’m jealous, and while I’ve done well to keep it in check, I can’t deny that as I write this, more than any other time, I was very, very jealous. I was listening to Nathan complain about the amount of books he has to read – and granted, it’s a ton of sad, non-fun books that I’d never want to read anyway – but all I can think is how much I want to be in his place.

For the record, I was going to delete the following paragraph entirely, but it struck me that the very reason I wanted to remove it was the reason it needed to stay: Pride. So here you go – bask in my horribleness while I go hide in shame: Thankfully, I’m not envious; that is, I don’t go so far as to not want Nathan to have the opportunity I don’t have right now. Still, this isn’t much in the way of ground, and the fact that I’m saying this means I’m being boastful, now that I think about it. Maybe that’s a double-fail. Maybe that’s worse. Probably is. *sigh*

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like Nathan has it easy. Not in the least bit. It’s just that when jealousy takes over, all I see is that he’s working on a patch of beautiful grass that I’m not working on right now. And it looks amazing. Since I’m not on his side of the fence, I envision him with an iced tea in his hands and sunglasses, leaning back in a lawn chair, watching clouds passing by. Which is so far from the truth that, when I think about it, I can’t help but laugh.

I forget that when Nathan arrived, it was littered with weeds. I don’t see the mud spots in the yard that are frustrating him because he can’t get anything to grow in those spots. I oversee the sweat on his brow and the blisters on his hands as he toils hard, spending long days trying to make this opportunity bear fruit. He’s worked long into the night and gotten up early just to make sure all the work gets done. And still he often frets to me that it’s not enough. There’s so much to do. He has so much responsibility that he wonders if he can accomplish all that he set out to do. And then there’s the fear that when he’s done, will it grow anything worthwhile?

Meanwhile, I lean on his fence, sighing wistfully – jealously – at the couple of sunflowers he managed to grow, imaging him just humming some happy tune to them to make them grow. Like they just pop out of the ground because of happy music. And because my husband’s quite attractive and sunflowers can’t help but to bloom effortlessly just so they can go smile at his handsome face.

But that’s what jealousy (and envy) does. It twists your perception. You see yourself as a victim, and the other person as favored, or worse, as your enemy. Instead of seeing all of the fertile ground around you, you’re focused on the gardens everyone else has. And you don’t see what it took them to grow that garden. You just see the top of the apple tree with a fat, juicy apple hanging on one of the branches.

They say the grass is greener on the other side. I just think it’s because we don’t see the work they’re doing behind the fence.

So stifle jealousy. Stifle envy. Stifle pride while you’re at it (clearly, I need to). Be content with what you have, dream of what it will be like to see the fruit of your labor, work hard with the opportunities you have been given, and be grateful. You will grow a garden. And even if it’s a small garden for now, keep at it, and perhaps God will grant you a bigger, better garden when you prove yourself faithful with the small garden He’s given you now.

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Tamara Rivers

Tamara Rivers

I’m the author of “The Guardian of Hope,” and hoping to publish many more books – I love to write!

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