Just because someone started before you (or passed you) doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ahead of you. Many of us can think of at least one person who seems to be excelling while you’re left behind. They may have finished school on time, they seem to have a great job, they appear financially stable, and their dating life seems to be solid; while your life seems to be in disarray. But looks can be deceiving when you look behind the scenes. While they are getting “dirty” traveling through the seasons of life, you used wisdom to see your way through. You laid a foundation to cross over the mud, you grabbed a raincoat to shield you from the rain, you found shelter to protect you from hail and sleet, you didn’t just aimlessly go through the motions of life; you took the time to grab what you needed along the way to protect you from the elements. You took the time to feel. It won’t be enough to your opponents that they finished ahead of you, they will still envy the quality in which you ran; and this will become your biggest challenge.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)”
Every participant in a race isn’t my opponent. Sometimes, God grants me the privilege to start a journey with friends and loved ones, only to end up with less people than I started with and not feeling much love. As expected, it’s harder to deal with the devil we know than the one we don’t. I confide in my friends, trust them with my heart, share my life with them and feel safe that (once established) boundaries won’t be crossed and even if they are…it will be in the best interest of the friendship. We invest time and energy in our friendships with the hopes that these people will rejoice with us through life. Unfortunately, friendships aren’t perfect and those imperfections can cause us to lose people along the journey. Holding on tighter to those that don’t have the endurance to stay with you, delay you in the process. Focusing on those that are leaving you behind can diminish your motivation. And still, once you do cross the finish line, you may be greeting by frowning faces that are happy you finished…but jealous, because you stopped to smell the roses along the way.
Jealousy isn’t about it’s target, it’s about the feelings of inadequacy of the host. What’s an effective way to deal with jealousy among friends? Well, most are too embarrassed that they feel jealous, and won’t admit it. It’s hard to address something you refuse to face. In the last 2yrs, I’ve been the target of jealousy and it sucks. I’ve lost friends, I’ve been made to feel isolated and I’m now struggling with who I can trust & to what extent. For years I’ve been the “tortoise” watching my friends: achieve their career goals, find love, start families & advance their education. It’s important to note that I received countless speeches of motivation and expressed love from friends who encouraged me to keep pushing. When I finally “caught up”, my congratulation’s came with a double edged sword. What did I do wrong, except pace myself?
I constantly have to remember that love covers a multitude of transgressions, jealousy being one of those transgressions. A great way to repair a relationship when it’s pierced by jealousy is to open the lines of communication. In the past, when it came to jealousy I dealt with the matter poorly. It was easier for me to cut ties than to confront the issues. I’ve since learned that as the target, I am also responsible for repairing the rift, if I notice it. I don’t get to pretend that it isn’t there, alienating my friend’s feelings and blame him/her for the damage. True friends have the unique opportunity to use the love of God to heal the “broken places” in each other’s lives. By choosing to express love in the presence of pain both parties receive the kind of blessing(s) that will enrich their lives for generations.