I've had 2 kids. I used to wake up before 5am to work out. I love food. I'm almost 35 years old. And let me tell you something, when I see a young 20-something girl or a super cute fit mom, I am suddenly filled with a jealousy I didn't even realize I had. I've noticed I have a couple different variants of jealousy. I can be the experienced jealous woman: "well, yeah, she's probably only 23. She doesn't even know what life is yet. Come here little girl, let me show you my stretch marks." Or the envious jealous woman: "wow. Look at her. And she has 3 kids. I wish I looked like that. She must starve herself." Or the 'happy for you, but not really' jealous woman: "oh you bought a new luxury car? How lovely...[walks away hoping someone scratches it]."
How ugly is all this jealousy?? It's an ugly, ugly thing that can lead to so much darkness in our hearts. And do you know where I've experienced the most jealousy? Church. I'm not jealous of the song leaders and their beautiful voices (although I should be, I've heard my own voice). I'm jealous of the wives whose husbands are sitting next to them. I pay attention to the way some of the men wrap their arms around the shoulders of their wives. But it goes even deeper than that. I imagine that their husbands may be more gentle with their words. They may not give their wives a hard time about going to a bible study. Their husbands must know how to love better because they know how God loves us. You may be reading this and thinking, "this chick is weird. I've never struggled with being jealous of a woman having a faithful Christian husband. I'm happy for her, all the time." That's awesome. But, if you're like me, let's figure out this nasty jealousy.
It's an ugly, lonely feeling. Not the feeling of being spiritually single. I'm talking about the feeling that is caused by jealousy. It can pull us away from women in the church. It can lead towards resentment. Without realizing it, we can begin to dislike our husbands for not being like these other men, which in turn leads to us treating them differently.
Our entire personality sours when we begin to focus on the jealousy that builds in our hearts. Why? Because:
"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Proverbs 14:30
Good ol' Proverbs. I'm so thankful God put these little nuggets in the bible. I'm more of a visual person, so let's just imagine for a moment that our bones are rotting with jealousy. Our bones provide support and structure. Our bones provide protection of organs. Without bones, our body would just be a pile of gooey mush (ew). What would happen to our bodies if our bones began to rot? We would deteriorate and collapse. Nothing would protect our organs and we'd likely die.
That's exactly what can happen to our spiritual well being if we allow jealousy to creep in and begin to rot the structure, support and protection of our faith. It can lead to spiritual death.
So what do we do about this nastiness?
1. They're men.
Ok, this is not a man bashing. Don't get excited, ladies. But this little statement is so true. They're men! And they're not perfect! Not long ago, I was explaining to my best friend all the reasons I felt her husband is perfect. She laughed almost hysterically and proceeded to correct me. She reminded me that he's still a man, he's human and he's far from perfect.
As spiritually single women, I think we tend to imagine that every God-fearing, faithful church going husband must be the ideal spouse. But it's a lie that our enemy tells us in an effort to bring down our hope and begin building a jealous root in our hearts because he knows that once that root is seeded, the jealousy will continue to grow and further rot our faith.
2. Focus on the good
Think back to when you first knew your husband was "the one." When all you could do was stand in awe of his amazing qualities. Go back to that. Focus on all the good things about him. I often find myself wishing my husband would be this or that, do this or that, and I do it so often that I lose sight of all his great attributes and begin comparing him to the church-going husbands of my friends. That's not what God wants us to do!
"Finally, [sisters], whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8
Think about all the amazing qualities of your husband. If we focus on comparing him to what he's not, we're missing out on what he is...and he can feel it. And your heart can feel it and guess what, it starts to rot our spiritual bones.
3. Be happy for your sisters
Sometimes this is easier said than done, right? We've all been there. We've all been jealous at some point in time. And we all know how it makes us feel deep in our hearts.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15
We are a family. A family of believers. And God calls us to support one another, to love one another, to rejoice and mourn with one another. Does this mean we are in harmony with each other all the time? Of course not; we are human. Remember that God doesn't expect perfection in each of us...but he does expect us to aim for it. And it's ok to pray for it! I pray for my heart to be filled with a genuine happiness for my sisters who have Godly husbands because the enemy wants to build on that jealousy seed and plant its roots in my heart.
The good news about our jealousy is that it's something that can bring us closer to God. Only God can cleanse and then guard our hearts against something that has the potential to rot our spiritual structure. Don't let the enemy win this battle. Recognize that while our jealousy is a normal human emotion, it's a destructive emotion that can root itself in our hearts and hurt ourselves, as well as those around us.
So ladies, let's focus on all the good things about our husbands - can you imagine if all they did was focus on all the things WE are not? Yikes. That's a scary thought.
And let's rejoice with our sisters...because if and when the day comes that your husband decides to come to God, you know they will be rejoicing with you.
Keep your spiritual bone structure strong. Protect your heart. Don't let the enemy dig roots of jealousy to allow bitterness to grow in your heart. His goal is to turn our faith into gooey mush. Drink up that spiritual calcium (aka: God and his word) and keep building your strength!