Written by Evi Idoghor
When we think of jealousy in friendships, we often think of people who are horrible, people who would go to any length to get what we have that they desperately want. But it doesn’t look like that all the time. Jealousy has happened to the best of us, and it frequently stems from a place of discontentment. How do I know this? I used to be jealous of my good friend.
Discontentment began in my life at a time when I was praying to God for many things. My list was long, and my requests were deep. Most of my friends were already married to men who were settled and free in the United States, and I wanted a piece of that pie. So I prayed to God to bless me with a godly spouse who was also a citizen, or at least a resident, of the United States. And if he was taking too long to answer that specific prayer, I wanted him to bless me with a job that would allow me to work in the country.
At the time, these kinds of requests dominated my prayer life. I was living my life for God, no longer messing around with men, serving in church, sharing God's truth with others, and I wanted God to respond to me exactly the way I wanted him to. However, it appeared that he mistook me for someone else. So, my friend was working under the terms of the work permit she had obtained from school, which was about to expire.
Her organization was still considering renewing the work permit, but they were unsure of the proper procedure. That frustrated my friend because she didn't know what she should do next. Then, by chance, she met a lady who encouraged her to apply to a different organization because they were looking for people with her skills and were willing to file for them to become residents. She applied for the job and was accepted. This was significant and unique, because most organizations in the United States do not provide this service to international students. God intervened in the most unexpected way.
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I was happy for my friend when I heard the news, but I was disappointed in God. Why her and not me, God? Why not the two of us? Why just her? I was saddened. My friend, who was completely unaware of my struggles, would always talk about her opportunity - they are doing such and such for me, they even inquired about my relationship status, so they could also file for my partner. She couldn't wait to get started in her new life. I didn't want to hear her discuss it. Can we discuss something else? I'd often say in my head because I didn't want to come across as a hater. I didn't hate her; rather, I was jealous of her.
Jealousy is frequently the result of discontentment with one's own life. When you are unhappy with the direction of your life, dissatisfied with what you have, and unsure of which path to take, you become jealous of those who have what you so desperately desire. Hebrews 13:5 says, “keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper…””
God has promised to take care of you, and just because you don't have what you want doesn't mean your life is any less important or that God loves the other person more than he loves you. Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Take care, and be on guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” What gives our lives purpose and value is the God who created us. When you fail to realize that God also has plans for your life, and that plan may look different than your peers, or even what your family thinks it should look like, it leads to discontentment, which can lead to jealousy. And, if not properly managed, jealousy can lead to hatred. When you're in that mindset, it can have disastrous consequences.
So how can we manage jealousy in friendships?
Don’t spread hate about your friend: ask yourself – why am I jealous of my friend? What is lacking in me that I see in her? Then pray and ask God to help you deal with areas in your life where you feel discontent. If you choose the other route and begin to spread hate about your friend, first, it is sinful to do so, second, you might damage the relationship beyond repair.
Be content with the life God has blessed you with: You may believe you have nothing to be thankful for, but you do. If you are reading this article, it means that God has blessed you with the ability to see another day - be grateful. Nobody ever gets out of bed in the morning unless God allows them to. The psalmist says, “I lay down and slept; I awoke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Since God has promised us in Hebrews 13:5 that he will never abandon us, then we ought to be content, because he is invested in every detail of our life.
Whatever you are doing, do it excellently: discontentment most times has to do with a lack in finances. You may feel that nothing is panning out for you, thus, you are frustrated with your life, and begin to be jealous of those who are doing well. While this is understandable, it is not the proper attitude to have. It is better that you focus on what you can do, and do it excellently, than to sulk over how the lives of others appear. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Spend time doing what God has blessed you to do.
Focus on your purpose: When I discovered my purpose and began focusing on it, my perspective on life changed. I realized that me and my friend were on different paths. What I desired for myself in America, although good, wasn’t what God wanted for me. If he had given me those things at that time, it may have derailed the path that he forged for me before I was a thought in the minds of my parents. Everyone is on a different journey, and we all arrive at different destinations, at different times. If we keep comparing our lives to those around us, then we may get depressed, frustrated, angry at God, and jealous. But when we understand that God has different plans for our lives, we would accept the lot he has given us, and be content with it.
So, instead of feeling jealous when you see good things happening for others, rejoice with them. Celebrate them because you know God is good and will not deprive you of anything good. Don't be ashamed if you're experiencing jealousy today. You are not the only one on the planet that has dealt with it. However, don’t let it consume you. Ask God to reveal your areas of discontent and help you in overcoming them.
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