Envy gets a bad rap, and understandably so! “Thou shalt not covet” is Commandment number ten. God concludes the list with a doozy. But let’s take this common tendency toward envy and steer our wayward attitude in the right direction, rather than have the deviation condemn us toward inaction.
When (not if) we feel envy, it is helpful to ask these three questions:
1) What is it about their path I desire?
I have extreme envy as I type this coaching tip. My middle child just confirmed his plans to live on Cape Cod for three months this summer. After watching forty-five inches of rain fall since October, here in Seattle, the thought of boats, bicycles, badminton, and beach balls makes me want to curl up and curse my middle-aged life, full of bulging bills and responsibility. I too want to work on the Martha’s Vineyard ferry and hand Steve Carell a bag of chips one July afternoon.
I want a change of pace and scenery. I want adventure. I want to be carefree again.
2) Do I have an accurate perspective?
Oh, to be nineteen…
But would I really want that? Hell no! When I stop and stand (Step 1 of The Jeremiah Method), I am given the fresh air of perspective. How utterly confused I was at this age. I did not know what I know now, and, therefore, I did not approach my opportunities as I would approach them now.
It is far too tempting to sugar coat someone else’s opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, my son will have an amazing summer experience, and I’m so happy that he has the chance to live where he’s never lived before and to experience life in a way he’s never experienced before. But his summer will not be perfect. No one’s experience is ever perfect.
I also know that three months away from home is a long time. I would miss my routine, my home, my work, and community. I like my life and, overall, I’m pretty content with exactly where God has me right now.
This doesn’t change my desire to want a similar summer, but now there is a shift. My perspective broadens.
3) What choices do I have control over that will redirect my own path?
It is at this question where things can get exciting. After twenty-one years of parenting, and financially challenging years full of sacrifice, there is a light of change and expectation at the end of a long, but awesome tunnel. My husband and I aren’t quite there yet, but this is exactly where goal oriented decision making can bring us closer toward a desire. If we stay focused on the goal and make choices toward that goal, in a few years we may have the chance to seek our very own adventure.
What choices do my husband and I have control over?
~How we spend our money today, so we have savings for that adventure in the future.
~What we put in our body and the exercise we output, so we have health and energy for the adventure.
~The attitude we bring toward today, because small, unimportant routines are pleasurable and good too.
~Happiness for all three of our children who slowly leave the nest and blaze their own unique path toward fulfilling futures.
Of course, full control is only in the hands of God, so the other choice we can make is a grateful spirit for each new day, and every chance He gives us to make great choices.
Have you been wrestling with envy? Ask yourself, why? Shift the perspective, then take control of the choices you do have that will drive you closer to what you desire.