I absolutely love social media but I absolutely despise the feeling it gives me every once in a while! I don’t know about you but every once in a while, I find myself scrolling down my timelines and feeling bouts of insecurity brush across my heart. It’s like these miniature waves of “envy” come over me as my heart begins to covet what others have in comparison to what I perceive to lack. “Wow, they’re on another vacation in Europe…must be nice”…“oh, they’re on another shopping spree…must be real nice.” Ever been there and done that? Ever felt completely ridiculous for doing it? If so, you’re not alone and congratulations…you’re officially human! Though the enemy would love for you to feel as though you’re the only one who experiences these feelings, the truth is that you’re not alone.
You see, God knew that we would often struggle with slight bouts of jealousy, envy and comparison because it began with the first two children in the world named Cain and Abel. They had the entire world at their fingertips. They had parents who were the apples of God’s eyes. They had the ability to sit, walk and talk with God but it was not enough. One brother (Cain) felt threatened by the other brother’s (Abel) gifts, talents and skills. Cain felt less loved than his brother Abel and began to compare himself until it rot the core of his heart, and eventually provoked him to kill Abel (See Genesis 4).
Social media has given us an all-access pass into the lives of others and has made comparisons, envy and jealousy more difficult to resist than ever. We see someone post a major accolade so we post a pic of our new car or award to keep up. Someone’s husband or boyfriend posts pictures from an elaborate dinner party or engagement so we write a paragraph to the world about how our sweetie is the most handsome, wonderful, gifted, talented man in the world! We tag our location at prestigious events to inform others that we’ve reached VIP status. We take photos with celebrities and noteworthy individuals to put others on notice that we’ve “made it.” We do…we do…we do…and do.
We do all of these crazy things to keep others in the loop only to fall out of the most important loop…our bond with God. While we’re working hard to make sure that others are aware of our rising status, we begin to neglect the status of our heart. Is that really the life that God wants for us? Does He desire for us to be so attached to the things of the world that we fail to find time to be affirmed by Him?
“What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
How and when did our happiness become dependent on someone’s achievements, and why did we allow it to take root over the joy in our hearts? Friends, I’m as human as you. If I knew the answers to all of these questions, I wouldn’t struggle with the same things in my own life and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this post.
You and I are like Cain in many ways because we are often blinded by our ambition. Similar to Cain, the act of comparison rots the core of our hearts. It steals our joy and makes us feel inferior. It convinces us to believe that we have less to offer than others and it provokes us to act out of character. (Ex: declaring our love from the mountaintops of our keyboards just to show the world how perfect our relationship is, when in reality it’s on life-support).
How silly of us to compare months, weeks and years of our prayers and dreams to an electronic 2×2 photo of someone’s life. How naïve of us to be conned into thinking that someone’s highlight reel is the end of our first take at success and achievement!
I love the feeling of success just as much as the next guy and girl but I don’t love feeling lost in envy and jealousy. I don’t love that feeling of inferiority that makes me feel less than special when I compare the highlights of my life to someone else’s spotlight. Those are the moments that dim my light and obscure my view of God’s work in my life. Those are the times when I feel blind and stuck in a rut of discouragement. I’ve got a book, full of promises for a bright future that’s ripe with hope at every tomorrow and so do you. I think it’s time we cling tight to those words and images. I think it’s time to let go of the temporary things that appear to shimmer and glitter.
My prayer for you and I today is so deeply heartfelt. My prayer is for you and I to seek God’s face in all things. For us to seek to please Him in all that we do and in all that we accomplish. My prayer is for God’s glory to be the reason that we seek to rise higher in this world. My prayer is for us to make time to focus on what God is doing in our lives each day. For us to challenge ourselves to put aside that crazy burning desire to envy the lives and accolades of others. For us to run far away from the temptation to compare the moments of our lives to others’ achievements. My prayer is for us to be bold to confess those areas to God and then feel righteous enough to accept and receive His forgiveness. For us to wake up each morning knowing that we are special, unique and one of a kind, and for us to go to sleep each night full of validation and acceptance. My prayer is for us not to be discouraged when we see God’s hand of favor at work in the lives of others. It’s for us not to feel left behind when the propelling hand of God seems to be working at light-speed to fulfill the dreams of our peers—for we have no idea of the costs they paid to see those days come to pass. My prayer is for us to feel justified and to be confident that God will complete every single good work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6). For us to know that any and every setback will be used to catapult us infinitely farther than we could ever imagine (Romans 8:28). My prayer is for us to live as a cheerleader for others even if we’re still struggling to get off the ground. My prayer is for us to live in humility and remember to encourage others once we’ve obtained the victory.
This is my prayer for you and me today, and for the rest of our lives. The next time you feel a surge of jealousy, envy, bitterness or comparison begin to rise, stop it dead in its tracks by taking a moment to thank God for what you have. Then, follow it up with a prayer that asks God to bless that person double for the crazy emotions in your troubled heart. That might sound like the dumbest thing in the world but I bet it’ll silence the voice that tells you to compare yourself and to indulge in envy.
Be encouraged to encourage yourself today!