Words of Hope: Envy Observed

It’s basketball season. The starting lineups have been announced and I consider all the students who don’t make the starting five. I think about the anger I have seen from parents and students who sit the bench and wonder why. I think about this as I drive home from NBC Camps. I often imagine my dad with me. I like to picture him sitting in the passenger seat. I think about the conversation we might have. As I think about basketball season, I wish I could talk with him about envy. It’s a very confusing emotion. I listened to a podcast about the difference between envy and jealousy. In this podcast, researchers said that envy is an emotion involving two people. You want what someone else has. I felt this acutely when Ariana was a baby. She was gravely ill, and we could not discover the reason. She clung to me in obvious pain. I saw how the babies of my friends thrived. I was happy for them but incredibly envious. I wanted to have a healthy child. I wrestled with God and pleaded with Him to bring healing to Ariana. When I saw a healthy child, I stuffed down the feeling of comparison and sorrow. I envied moms who did not worry or who had laughing, pain-free children.  

When I was ten years old, my parents’ friends lost their ten-year-old daughter. Their friendship slowly drifted away. The father finally told my dad, “When I am with your family, I see Jennifer and I cannot bear my loss.”  

I know Dad had envy about health. He wanted to be healthy. One of the disciplines that helped him overcome envy was the same discipline he needed to overcome not starting in basketball. Just like envy in sports or the arts, or any deeply passionate endeavor, Dad realized that envy of health robbed his joy.  

Fairly quickly he made a mental decision with himself not to walk down the road of comparison or envy. Dad believed in the secret of remembering to be joyful always and give thanks in all circumstances. In this spirit of abundance and joy, there is no room for envy.  

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” – Proverbs 14:30