A few weeks ago, I shared something with a group of (in)courage readers here—something raw and organic, something a bit stream-of-consciousness, but still pressing searing hot into my forehead for several weeks prior. I couldn’t not share it with someone, and these gals were the recipients due to nearest online proximity that day.
This was something simmering in my heart, particularly how it related to community and the friendships birthed from it: JEALOUSY. Ugly, schoolgirl-feeling jealousy. It’s embarrassingly easy to feel jealous of the skinny minnie in cute jeans at church, or the mom who has that amazing house with the high-end kitchen appliances. But I confess that where I—until recently—felt it run rampant in my heart was on the good ol’ Internet.
I’ve been blogging for five years, and I had never really struggled with feelings of jealousy until the past few months. Watching other lovely bloggers who have a true gift with words do amazing things with their platform, who seem to feel so confident in their voice and their audience, who seem to make blogging look so easy, who seem to have shown up to the field out of nowhere and immediately start hitting homeruns out of the park…
My mind wanted to freely and wildly applaud for them with standing ovation, but deep down, my heart hurt. It hurt because I wished blogging were so easy for me, too, but really? It hurt because I wanted this jealousy clean and free from my life.
This temptation toward jealousy hit me like an unexpected wave in the midst of rolling water, and it left me choking a bit, complete with that icky saltwater taste in my mouth. But right when I thought it’d overcome me into inaction, Jesus met me exactly in my time of need.
When I sensed that wave of jealousy heading near, he’d point me to something He said in the Word, or to something a friend bravely wrote on her blog, or He’d simply orchestrate my day so that all I could do was lean into His calling and just be.
Here are the particular things that have helped free me from this recent, unexpected bout of jealousy.
Specifically, the verse that came to mind time and time again was Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This doesn’t speak specifically about jealousy, but it had been my heavy labor, and this simple verse was my reminder to find rest from the waves in Jesus. And that I would find that rest when I come to Him.
2. A good word.
This post by my friend and fellow (in)courage girl Emily Freeman spoke volumes to me. It reminded me that God had given me my slice of calling to steward, just as he’s given you, and you, and you. He is calling me to do well with what He’s given me. And if I’m really honest, I can admit that I really like my slice. I don’t want any more. It’s abundant.
3. Say thanks.
To be offline, away from where the waves come crashing toward my heart, and instead list out the many, many blessings in my life. The tree in my yard blooming pink. My kids playing with the cardboard boxes. The light hitting the floor just so as the sun rises. A literal list of gratitude lifted my heart and freed me from a temptation towards jealousy.
Finally, born out of thanksgiving came a heart free to give. It wasn’t much—a simple offer of advice, time to listen, clean counters or laundry folded with no expectation of thanks, a shout from my rooftop of another friend’s stellar online work, a happy answer to a question. Once I was released from jealousy, I focused more on how I could serve rather than fester an ugly spirit of wondering why I wasn’t being served.
It was freedom to enjoy what was already given to me in abundance, then finding creative ways to share it with others.
It’s human to struggle with things like jealousy, but what’s superhuman is the ability to rise above it. And thanks be to God, we’ve been given that strength in abundance, right when we need it.
How do you struggle with jealousy?
by Tsh of Simple MomLeave a Comment
I just love the graphic you used! We should probably view everyone through a telescope. I am glad that God sees us that way, as part of a larger picture. Tsh, as we accept those gifts and talents that God has given specifically and uniquely to us, I believe jealousy will fade. Thank you for this thought provoking post!
You in courage me everyday!
Tsh Oxenreider says
That’s one of my favorite recent quotes…
Bev Duncan@ Walking Well With God says
I can so relate to you…I too struggle with jealousy in my writing. I see other bloggers who’s laptops seem to easily drip with eloquent words and I have to work so hard at it. Enter jealousy. But thank you for the reminder to enjoy my “slice” and the abundance God has given me. Even if I only reach one person out there, I write ultimately for an audience of One. It is hard to be thankful and jealous at the same time…wise words! Thank you for sharing from the heart and for hitting an out of the park homerun!
Maxine Gonzalez says
I agree with you and can relate as well….once I started really understanding that I was writing for ONE, then my voice didn’t seem so inadequate. When I keep my eyes focused on HIM, then the words come. And we should all be thankful for our individual “voice” that GOD uses in HIS way. Bless you!
Kathy @ In Quiet Places says
It’s been a long process, but I think much of it comes down to being comfortable in my own skin and celebrating who God made me to be and try not to play the comparison game. It is important to be true to and be that good steward of the slice we’ve been given!
Love this post, Tsh! I’ve been struggling lately and hadn’t put a name to it, but it is jealousy. Not about possessions, but about me wanting the serenity that others appear to have in their lives and houses. (Which they probably don’t really have, let’s face it.) And this post beautifully put how to deal with it. Thank you!!
Tsh Oxenreider says
Yes, it took me awhile to figure out that what I was dealing with was jealousy, too. I hadn’t dealt with it in so long, I couldn’t even recognize it at first!
Jealousy has been a HUGE struggle for me. Especially when it comes to friendships. I am very jealous over my friends and not in a Godly “He is jealous for me…loves like a hurricane I am a tree…” way. I can disintegrate into anxiety attacks when I start to feel like my friends have chosen another over me. I hate it. I’m really working on getting a handle on it, though. Praying through it and reeling my mind in from going down irrational trails and speaking truth to myself.
I have made great progress in other areas of jealousy, though. I am content with my home and my vehicles. I may not have a supermodel body but it’s a strong body (that my husband adores!) and I like it anyway. I don’t have a designer wardrobe but I like the clothes I do have and I’d rather have money in the bank than more clothes. Okay, I do get jealous of other girls who have perfectly clear skin, but it’s not as bad as it used to be since my acne isn’t out of control any more. 🙂
Melissa, I feel your comments about being jealous over your friends. Thank you for sharing. It helps to know that I am not alone or the only one who struggles with jealousy over their friends. The truth is powerful and will set us free. 🙂
Elizabeth@Real Inspired says
I was just talking to my husband about this last night, though I didn’t think of it as jealousy at the time. I was feeling insecure as, to me, it seemed like others blogged effortlessly. Their creative ideas and great writing just seem to come easily. While I’m struggling with making sure there’s clean dishes! Hubby made the point that even if I only have 50 followers, that’s 50 people I’m making a difference for. And fulfilling the calling of One. And that’s what matters.
My husband is a deacon and loves to serve people. Sometimes I get jealous of his time spent, but most importantly I can get jealous of who he serves. Thank you for your post which really helped me to see my sin and repent. I know God forgives me and will cleanse me of all my sin. Thank you Jesus.
Jealousy is like a stealth bomber attack for me. Seems to come out of nowhere…always when I I’ve been blessed to think of something good I can do for others. I was just thinking about calling an old friend I’ve just renewed a relationship with (she seems to be reaching toward spiritual answers and I’ve been on that journey for a long time) and pow! my mind leaps to I don’t have the appearance and nice house to invite her to. Wow! How does that happen. Then I open up my e-mail and click into your blog….aaah! I’m not the only one and yes, God does have the answer. Set aside the negative chatter and focus on His blessings and truth…. Amazing God!
You will never know how the Lord just used you in this very moment, this very day, this very hour! Last night in particular was a very difficult time and I have been seeking the Lord’s guidance with my hurt and jealousy that I have been feeling in the last month. Then your post this morning…Thank you so very much. Thank you Lord for responding through Tsh.
Tsh Oxenreider says
I’m so glad, Rhonda.
Little worried about Gail. If your husband is a deacon, he is serving the Lord!
I’d love to see people’s ages; two of my friends talked about that a little last night. One is having a job interview for the first time in 25 yrs (she’s been working the whole time, just time for new employment) and its a whole different experience this time because of our better sense of self. We also spoke of the contemplation of going grey and ending the coloring. I think Oprah had it right about 50 (not there yet but I can see it pretty good). Sure I wish my life had been, was, will be different sometimes but jealous of what someone else is/has? Nope. The grass ALWAYS looks green, whether it is or not; and you NEVER know what someone else is going through. I’ve been seeing a lot lately, “the only person you should ever try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday”, LOVE IT.
Lisa Weidknecht says
Thanks for sharing that! I’ve always struggled with comparing. It’s been my crown and my cross. My cross in that, well, I have really struggled with it, and I still do. It doesn’t take much for it to become all I can see.
It’s been my crown in that it’s helped me to learn how to fall on my Rock fast, and also it’s helped me to encourage others. I try and be very upfront about my struggles, lack and weaknesses so that people know that any comfort I can give is just the comfort wherewith I have been comforted.
It’s funny that no matter how small we feel our “slice” is there is always someone else who views it as huge. I have been to your blogs and thought “wow, she’s amazing! How does she do it!”
Tsh Oxenreider says
Yep… I think almost ALL of us struggle with it in some way, no matter who we are.
Kathy Carenza says
I have this problem though I do my best to keep it hidden….coming clean today….I am not jealous of looks, things and that kind of stuff but I am jealous of those who are healthy and have energy to live. I so want to not hurt daily, to not have a 24/7 worse than Migraine headache, to have the energy to really get out there and do normal living things without paying for it with extreme fatigue and extra extreme pain…
Debra Clover says
God is at work with me in that area. He is teaching me to see nice things that other people have and I say, I do love it Lord, but I do not need it. Then he is starting to point out reasons that I would not want it, Like the upkeep would take so much time it would stop me from doing the things I enjoy so much. Teaching and spreading the word of God. I do not need rewards on this world, but to see the face of Jesus that is what I need.
Jenni Saake "InfertilityMom" says
I have to remember that when another blogger seems to be successful “out of nowhere,” that’s just my perception. The back story reality probably included YEARS of quiet struggle for the platform, just like I find myself in now! I’m only just observing their spotlight season now because God has lifted them into my vision, but when they were “nobodies” like me, even I wasn’t seeing them yet!
I love that quote (and putting you on Pintrest), about envy and love and microscopes and telescopes. <3
Tamara Rice says
I so totally relate. Except that my blog is new. But it’s the writing part. I’ve been in this for so long now. So many years spent writing, so many projects, so many connections and still not quite reaching where I’d really like to be in this writing thing. And then it seems a few young bloggers take to their keyboards and bam-presto-book-deal-success. There was a time earlier this year when it really hurt my soul to feel the weight of that envy and bitterness.
But I totally agree with Jenni above that the reality is that they have likely put more into their success than I can see from my corner of the internet away from their life and their everyday struggles. (At least that’s what I tell myself.) There is likely much more to their success than their recent blogging. And I turned around and I decided to take that negative energy in my heart and turn it into something useful. I decided that I would seize the day and be inspired and attempt to stop comparing successes and just write all the things I want to write right here and right now and try to be content with just having written them. Knowing that I got them out. The thoughts are complete. And it’s been healing to do this.
Thanks for being vulnerable. You are not the only one with this struggle!
Andee Z says
This is going to seem way “fan-girl-ish”, but I am so thankful you posted this because YOU are my silent mentor. (Silent because you have no idea who I am 🙂 ) Whenever I’m blogging, whenever I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing online, I think to myself, “What would Tsh do?”. Yours is the blog I watch.
Okay, enough gushing/stalking. Thanks for being honest.
Tsh Oxenreider says
Oh goodness, you’re kind. Thank you, Andee.
Thanks for this post. I don’t blog at all, except like this, in response to someone elses. But I am in ministry, and jealousy is incidious, isn’t it? It sneaks in before you even realize that is what it is. Kind of like poison ivy; you think it’s just a skeeter bite, and low and behold, it starts growing. Anyway, I find myself getting jealous of success in other’s ministries and wondering what’s wrong with me, that I am not so successful. But like you, I find that counting my blessings,” the graces all around me ,right where I am”, as Ann Voskamp would say; I find peace, in being who he already knew I was when he called me. I’m not disappointing to Him, and as long as I remain faithful and obedient, He will be glorified in that. Great Post, and thank you for your honesty.
Mel @ Trailing After God says
I totally relate to this. My problem is when I start to focus on the fact that I am everyone else’s constant cheerleader and I can get down when I don’t feel like it’s returned. And then I realize how selfish that attitude is and I have to change my thoughts and attitude. I love cheering others on and watching their dreams come true! I need to keep doing what God wants ME to do, and not worry about others. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us. It’s so hard to admit to some of those feelings and thoughts that we know aren’t inline with what God wants for us.
Laura Rath says
It’s not a coincidence that I’ve been battling jealously this morning and when I opened my email I saw the title “For When You Feel Jealous” sitting in my inbox. I knew I shouldn’t feel jealous. I didn’t want to feel it. But I did. I spoke to a friend (unrelated to why I felt jealous) and admitted why I felt it, but that I didn’t want to. My friend didn’t scold or laugh at me, but simply acknowledged & understood my feelings. And that took the sting out of how I was feeling. It diffused my emotions and the jealously. It was a simple act, but it helped me greatly. I feel like I can look at the situation from a different perspective now.
Thank you for your honesty in your post. 🙂
God bless you for your candor and vulnerability! How deeply God is singing His blessings upon you! I have been writing since I was very small and just recently felt the call to write again after 17 years of not writing because of the fear of my writing being so raw and not accepted.
I so want to create a blog and upload pictures onto it and write….I feel strongly that Jesus is calling me to this……problem is , I do not know how!
So, when we doubt ourselves, just remember that there is always someone out there worse off…..
Your blog is beautiful because it is so real!
May God continue to bless you!
Everything is Grace,
Liz Reeves says
Oh my goodness, YES!
I have been blogging since 2006 & have made TONS of friends through it. BUT, like you, I’ve found myself envying the ladies who started blogging years after me but have a huge following. The ones whose posts I see floating around facebook—being shared & re-shared by their adoring fans. I’ve wondered what I’m doing wrong or why I don’t have as many fans. So glad to read your words here!!
Kimberlyann DeAngelo says
Such timely, clear, humble and beautiful words. Thank you. Even when we know so intuitively, deeply that no one ever wins the comparison game, we succomb to the overwhelm of voices, “experts”, success stories, etc…that lead us to compare and feel inadequate, less than or not doing enough. Our saving grace is when we help each other remember we are all needed, all contribute, all valuable; He came to teach all of us His way of love, empathy, mercy, and raise awareness to our equality of essence from One God who created. Creator cannot contain all he holds (in Love) to Himself, for then He could not manifest. Jesus taught us to look to Him, to the Kingdom within birthed and fed from within and with-out. He showed us God’s infinite love, introduced us to The Holy Spirit available to all, but for Holy Spirit to remain free, it must be free to speak and move freely one to another. It helps me to remember words The Lord spoke to me, “Do not miss Me in your striving. I do not see you as broken. I am not looking for perfection. My grace is always with you.”. I share this with great respect, love and appreciation for the healing beauty and lesson in it. I hope and pray this helps whomever it is meant to speak to. God bless us all in our listening, sharing and accepting of grace.
Cindy Tunstall says
It’s so easy to call it something else…but it’s jealousy. Ouch. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing a better way. Love the quote. Love looks through telescope. Amazing what a different perspective does! @CindyTunstall
Thank you for writing this. I’ve been really struggling with this lately with an in-law of the family. You’ve made me realize that my ‘anger’ toward them is mostly jealously! Jealous that they have a new baby and we are done. That they are getting all kinds of attention and help, while we get less. Jealous that their extended family seems to share every photo of every perfect moment and all the ‘fun’ they are having, while I feel like that is a struggle. But now looking back, we just don’t blast those things all over the internet. I should be counting my blessings and while they play the ‘poor us’ card at times to get things or expect us to work our schedule around them, we have the blessing that we can do things on our own, and that we have the strength and mindset to be independent And reading the link from Emily make me realize too that I need to ‘mind my section of the pool’ and not worry about them. For if the tougher times do come, we can make it through, even with just the 4 of us. And that its most important that our little family have the best memories of US….together.
Tana Lopez Younger says
I was literally online having a bout of jealously when I saw this post come through my email. The timing was incredible and I am so thankful I took the time to read it. Thank you for having the courage to share such vulnerable feelings, to remind us all that no matter how talented or good we become at something that there is always someone who may be better, but IT DOESN’T MATTER who is better, that it is about using our God given gifts and serving Him with them the best that we know how. When we remember that we are here to serve Him and not our own egos, those jealous feelings begin to melt away. Thank you for reminding me of this! : )
Thank you, Tsh. I’ve just begun blogging and working with a website. Your words were what I needed to hear today to be on my guard. I can see that after my initial excietment of getting it all up and the first few posts, I could easily fall into the two traps of Jealousy and “it’s not perfect” if I am not prepared. Thank you for timely words and reminder!
Elizabeth Anne May says
Tsh: I bet those same bloggers that seemed to come out of nowhere and do so well would be absolutely thrilled to get a note or tweet from you saying how much you admire their work. What a wonderful blessing that would be to them. As a newer blogger myself, getting a well-placed compliment here and there makes all the difference in the world to me.
Julie Sunne says
This post hit me right where I am, Tsh. I too see others doing wildly fabulous things with their platform–and writing awesome posts … like this one:) … and it is easy to feel slighted or entitled.
This sentence stuck with me “It’s human to struggle with things like jealousy, but what’s superhuman is the ability to rise above it.” Yes, through Jesus we have the ability to be superhuman to rise above our sin. Praise be to God!
wow today I thought I was lonely when actually I was jealous. I am really encouraged by this because I have not been working on my SLICE when really that’s all I want but when you focus on others slice instead making your pie how you want it you will be sad. thanks for this.
I too am struggling with jealousy…..I pray GOD’s will whether or not this “friend” stay in my life or not….when they start slowly walking out I get jealous of the new people walking into their life…it bothers me that this “friend” treats new people in their life better than they have me in a18 year friendship (will buy a stranger a meal/drink/gift but doesn’t even wish me Happy Birthday)….and I know this friendship is not about me or us but about my “friend”….always has been…..I give but not receive…..the sad thing is—-I am a strong, intelligent, educated, honest person….just can’t get control of the little green monster…….that being said, thank you very much for this article, you have helped more than you know!
Thank you Tera for sharing! I have a similar situation,and not sure where the Lord will lead with it. Am trying not to react…and stay connected to the Vine for my worth. I often think of Christ and his disciples (friends) …thinking of how often he was treated badly by them. He started with many followers, then chose 12 and at the end he only asked 3 to accompany Him to Garden of Gethsemane…and even those 3 could not stay awake & pray. So many people treated him So rudely. Yet he was never a “victim”. There is a verse that says He didn’t trust people & He was able to discern people’s hearts. I am trying to be wise and look at All means of communication, verbal, nonverbal, in relationships. And seek God’s face in each one. May God give us Wisdom & His Discernment in our relationships 🙂 Yrs ago I read Love Must Be Tough by Dr. James Dobson…he shares good insight in the book about boundaries too. So grateful to come upon such vulnerable sharing! There is great healing and power in that.
Bev Brandon @ A String of Pearls says
Deut 32:2 – Your words fall like the rain out my window—holy manner, hallowed place. Love Matt 11:28 ~ He is asking us to ~Come~! And to ~Serve~ and where we are grasping, to be a giver. Your words fall on itching ears here as I’ve wrestled hard with jealousy recently. What’s underneath it? What matters is His Presence—He walks with me and you. I Chron 22:9. Grasped. Even the mess of Jealousy I am. Let my sin surprise me and draw me deeper, further up, into That Presence. No penance. Just Provision to face what’s in my heart and fall forward. Loved your post! I asked God this week if someone would talk with me about jealousy—and it was you. May I face that Jealousy to move strongly in repentance, lean hard into His Word. Thank you for letting me borrow a little bit of your faith. You have no idea the hole I am in, a rough patch. Sustained by a very Good God!
Just what I needed to read today. I usually am o.k. with “the jealousy” thing. But just this week it reared its ugly head. Thank for the post.
Beautifully, brutally honest. God tells us to confess our sins, one to another. Honesty convicts us, keeps us grounded and takes our private sins out of the darkness and into the light. Praise God!
This post reminds me of the important work we do when we write from such a place of genuine heart and soul. I get so much encouragement from your honesty. And maybe even more so from your tips for how to recognize and deal with it. I struggle with something so stinkin’ shallow. Profile pictures. True story. I’ll see an amazing gravatar or profile picture and start to feel the ugly creeping in. Thank God that grace abounds!
Actually, Tsh, this is really encouraging to me in a slightly different way than you maybe intended it! You … a well-known blogger … felt jealous of other bloggers and it would “seem” that jealousy was without reason since you do have a great blog.
I struggle mightily with coveting (very similar to jealousy) and scriptures about coveting are the key for me to knock those thoughts down.
Here’s why your story blesses me today. I’ve been struggling with a material blessing of another kind (we are building a family ranch). Isn’t it interesting that a material blessing brings out coveting in me? I think its because the responsibility of it requires a lot current sacrifice (we live in a less-than-desireable rental house so that we can fund the ranch development). It can seem really hard and almost not worth it, I really don’t feel I can complain because “hey, that’s supposed to be a good thing in my life!” But I look around and see all the pretty blog houses and covet. I think its amazing that coveting IS in the 10 Commandments. Now, struggling against it, I can see the reason. Coveting isn’t a victimless sin.
Now, after reading your story, I see that telling my story can have a value (rather than my silence) when it gets to my heart and not just complaining to hear myself complain.
Randy Haylett says
Jealousy–yes, I’ve been struggling with this one too and it surprised me. I had to confess that after years of ministry with my husband I had been caught up in the numbers. Not even big numbers, just being bogged down in the “how come we don’t have as many kids as, what are they doing that is so attractive, how can we get more than them–and oh my, it hit me. Something I have not wanted to admit for a long time was staring right in my face. I wasn’t ministering right now for the right reasons. I wasn’t compelled by knowing so many around me are alone and don’t know Jesus. I was caught up in “our church is better than your church” and I’m ashamed. It sneaked up on me when I wasn’t looking. That’s the problem. I wasn’t focusing on Jesus. I was focusing on me.
Crystal @ Serving Joyfully says
Wow! You have a hugely successful blogging platform of your own! It’s so fascinating how similar our struggles are…and it just goes to show that we have to learn to be like Paul–content with whatever situation. Because the success doesn’t equal contentment, even though sometimes when we’re seeking it, we’re sure it will. There’s always some other accomplishment, number, community, etc….that’s just out of reach. Thanks for sharing your heart.
katie @ imperfect people says
Love it. Andy Stanley talks about this when you feel jealous to celebrate others. I thought that was also a great word. Lovely post as always!
Beth Williams says
While not a writer myself. I struggle with jealousy in other areas of life. My biggest problem is work. Finding the right career path & company for me. Currently I’m working a good job, but not satisfied, happy or even content–maybe a little content for now. I don’t see myself there for the long haul of 10-12 more years.
Praying through this struggle and asking God to show me His plans for my life!
Wow Tsh. Thank you for sharing I’ll admit I’ve been jealous of you and your talent. Thanks for the reminder to turn to Jesus and be thankful for all that I have.
Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. I think it would have taken a lot for me to be this honest in an article and I really appreciate that about you. Timely article for me, I was slammed with a big jealousy attack last week on Facebook. Someone I already feel that I’m “less than” about posted a photo of her gorgeous beach home and how she couldn’t wait to be there this summer. Wow, I just felt such envy and heartache, etc. But then I realized even if I had it, I don’t have her gifts to care for property like that. I’m too much of an “inward” person. I’m not thinking about better curtains for a room or fixing the front steps. So, my way of handling my jealousy? I prayed for her, big time. I thanked God for blessing her and for her talents and that He would protect her property and her family, etc. It felt good to do that, and I thanked Him for what I have. It’s a lot. And He knows it’s what I can handle and take care of. Thank you for your article. Blessings!
This is the very thing I am struggling with today and I just happened to find this post– He always knows what we need, when we need it! Thanks for sharing your heart.
Thank you for being transparent, and giving us tools to deal with our own jealously demon. Even though I came across this a few days after your original post, it is still very timely. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share you humanness, and giving us a way to rise above, with God’s help.
Marsha Usvolk says
Thank you for writing this:).