So, I was humming along the other day, feeling good. I have been focused on my blessings lately, finding purpose, and generally positive about my life. Then a series of events re-acquainted me with a family friend I had not heard about in quite some time.
She is about 10 years younger than I am, and we had simply fallen out of touch. She is doing quite well. Through the magic of Facebook, I now know many things. She and her husband are fabulously fit because they compete in triathlons. Their babies are adorable. They could be poster children for Gerber. The décor in their home is the stuff of House Beautiful. All their family photos are professionally done and flawless.
I was suddenly hit by a case of jealousy the likes of whice I have not experienced since my best friend in fifth grade had Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and I didn’t! I couldn’t understand it. Usually I am able to be happy for someone who is doing well. While I like ‘stuff’ I don’t feel the need to have it all. I love my children and know that they are gorgeous. Why, all of a sudden did this bother me?
Then through more Facebook magic, I got my answer. I posted how I was feeling. A good friend responded to my post. “I understand. Living right next to (insert spendy neighborhood here), I struggle with house envy all the time. And it's not just the houses, it's my perception that they are all skinnier, prettier, more organized, etc.”
That was IT! It wasn’t the trappings, it was the story that the trappings represented to me. Their life seemed easier than mine. They seemed more organized. Flawless complexions must mean flawless days. Children with perfect curls could never throw temper tantrums like my 4 year old. Dinner always tastes good, the dog never chews things he’s not supposed to and she never has a bad hair day.
Smiles frozen on the screen said ‘Yes, we have it all – don’t you want to be us?’. My wise friend also said something else – “but you never know what it's really like in someone else's life.”
There is no way to know what someone else is truly going through. The chances of their life being as fabulous as it is in my mind are remote. Even if their life is fabulous, the last line from my friend is the important part: “At least we have enough self-awareness to fight against the green-eyed monster, instead of letting it consume us. :-)”
We choose how we are going to respond, we choose what we let affect us. The Green Eyed Monster has only the power we give him.
Proverbs 14:30 ESV
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot