Just as there’s a fine line between love and obsession which can be crossed almost unknowingly, the border which crosses from admiration towards someone to envy can get dangerously thin.
Ask yourself; how many times have you caught yourself actually envying someone’s possessions and achievements and told yourself defensively, “I was only admiring his efforts”? But a malicious thought always followed your defense, “What has he really done to deserve them? I could have put them to better use!” But you would deny ever having those thoughts. It was the devil whispering in my ears but I ordered him to ‘get thee behind me!’
No one’s life is perfect. It always looks greener on the other side. Someone’s life always seems better than ours. Your friend’s family seems happier and more stable than yours. Her parents do not fight as much as yours do. His family seem well established; almost every uncle and auntie is a top professional in his field and someone in the family always knows someone somewhere.
But your surname doesn’t seem to ring a bell in anyone’s ears because your relatives have not achieved much compared to your friend’s. The food you can only dream of eating and can only have after months of rigorous savings is just snack to them and no matter how ‘broke’ they are, can just take out the ‘change’ in their pockets to buy them.
That colleague of yours seems to have his life all sorted out. Job, check; good life partner, check; long-term life plan, check; and you, you can’t seem to even figure out where which foot to put forward next. And sometimes we are genuinely happy for the one who has made it or has greener pastures to graze on. But sometimes, out of bitterness which our lives have turned out to be, we find it hard to appreciate and celebrate our family and friends who have made it. Any little thing they do begins to feel offensive and you don’t find their jokes funny any longer. You begin to entertain thoughts that he’s taunting you because of your situation and you silently hope that life takes him off his high horse and taste life on the ground. At the end, you ruin great relationships because you couldn’t keep your envy in check.
The person you might be envying has his own problems; not all of which may be to your knowledge. You may think their headaches are mere scratches to you and you sometimes wish you could trade places.
Every rose has its thorns; sometimes the petals may be so long to cover them that you may think they are not there but they exist. You will only feel its sting when you reach over to pluck it. You think you are in a customized hell and it has passed its bearable stage; someone watching you sees your life as paradise compared to his. No one’s life is perfect.
You may not have the fanciest job title, sleekest car and poshest mansion but when you lie down at night, you don’t have trouble sleeping (apart from the nights filled with worry). You have healthy blood and bones. Someone you may be envying may not enjoy the peaceful sleep you take for granted. He may be smiling all day but every night, he’s afraid to shut his eyes thinking that might be his last day because of some terminal illness. Envy is a wasteful venture.
So when things are not on a good ‘mode’ in your life, don’t waste time and energy envying the neighbor next door. Instead, thank God for their lives, thank God in advance for the breakthrough He’s bringing your way and ask Him for patience to wait for His perfect timing.
So my dear friends, envy not!
Josephine Amoako © 2016