Jealousy and Envy

It’s really hard to admit when you experience ugly emotions. I’ve felt pretty judged lately to admit these types of feelings. I spoke with not only my husband on this subject, but also a close family member. Their reactions to it were different than I expected (as one of them may have been to relate to this feeling) and I tried to find a way to justify it. In the end, I never found that way. It seems that no matter what I said, I was digging myself into a deeper hole and no one was able to relate. I guess sometimes it really takes a lot to admit it, and I personally believe that most people, especially those going through infertility, experience this at some point in time.

This all came up after a normal Friday night Bible study. I always thought, since we are the oldest there besides the pastor and his wife, that we would be the first to have a baby/announce a pregnancy in the group (with the exception of the couple that were already expecting at the time they joined the group, obviously). Needless to say, I was wrong. And it hit me pretty hard, as I found it difficult to concentrate on anything else the night I found out. I noticed one of the guys whispering to the pastor shortly after people began to arrive, and I just knew. If you’ve been struggling to start a family for any length of time, you know what that feeling is. It is obviously quite early, but being that they’re close to the pastor they wanted to let him know. I felt that sinking feeling, “Everything isn’t going the way I had planned!” My whole body became tense, and for the rest of the night I found it hard to concentrate on anything. There was a lot of secretive discussion, and I could tell that they were letting some people know. And by the way they were talking, saying things like “Oh does _________ know?…” “…I told _______, _______ and _________ know…” it was impossible to hide what was being discussed. That feeling of envy, of jealousy– overcame me so greatly that I completely lost out on what could have been a beneficial for me. The pastor has recently done spiritual gift testing on the group, and chose to discuss results personally with my husband and I. I felt that even thought I was sitting there physically, talking and responding, that mentally I was trying to navigate through a maze of uncomfortable feelings. I couldn’t stop listening to the conversation in the other room, and it was almost as if I was waiting to hear them discussing the topic so that I could be more upset.

Now, I know this sounds terrible, but I think it is so important that I be brutally honest because this is really a big issue. I have to say that even though I felt jealousy, it doesn’t mean that I was not happy for them. It’s just hard to hide that feeling when you wish it were you. You wish you could feel that joy, excitement, even a little bit of nervousness as you share the news.

The following day, I spent time with my sister and told her the story, thinking she might be able to relate. Something about being around pregnant women, especially when we wish it were us, is hard to do. As someone who has experienced miscarriage, I know she had spoken to me in the past about her struggles being near pregnant women. Even though our situations are different, I thought she could lend a listening ear to my struggles. I was wrong. She offered her opinion, which was that jealousy is a bad thing. I agree, but it wasn’t the reaction I had expected. I guess sometimes we say things hoping for the listener to agree, and justify our feelings of insecurity. All in all, I was feeling a lot of guilt regarding my jealousy and envy, and it only made me feel worse. Later that night, I was downright depressed. I shared with my husband my feelings and the same thing happened– I felt judged, and furthermore guilty.

Even though it hurt, and I felt like no one could possibly understand what I was experiencing, I am thankful that they reacted this way because it made me realize something: it’s time to stop.

So lately, I have spent some time looking into this more. There is a lot in scripture that mentions jealousy– in fact, in Galatians 5:16-21, Paul lists 17 evidences of walking in the flesh:

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

It’s an ugly emotion, and it is often hard to admit when we struggle with this. But Paul states, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (NIV) I see that alone to put an end to this negative cycle. I have been listening to different sermons and will be studying deeper in the scripture. I truly feel this is something I need to get past; if this is something so bad that it prevents us from inheriting the kingdom of God, how then could I expect God to bless us with a baby? I may have a long way to go, but I am determined that this is not the way I am destined to live.

I wanted to share this because I think it is so important. Many women who experience infertility also experience the “unfairness” of wondering why some women get pregnant, why some women have children– and sometimes these are people who may be, in our judgement, not fit to have children. People who abuse drugs, alcohol, children, etc.– who we think would make a far worse parent then we would. We wonder why? But who are we to judge them? We don’t know what is in their personal walk. We don’t know why they were given the gift of a child, or multiple children. Quite frankly, it’s not really our business. Or we experience friends and family who get pregnant before us and find it difficult to be around them. We may be happy for them, but deep down we wish it were us and we don’t understand why it happens this way. I want to share with you this sermon that I think is helpful.

“If we can never be happy for people who get what we want and would like to have, then there’s a good chance we’re never going to get what we want.” Joyce Meyer

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