Her text was in all caps: I GOT MY DREAM JOB! I felt something in my gut twist. I tossed my phone down and turned on the water in the shower. I hated feeling this way. I wanted to text back, I am so happy for you!!! I knew the right thing to say but knew my heart felt the wrong thing. This feeling was so painfully familiar: envy.
For me, envy has always been a struggle. But on any given day sloth, pride, greed, and anger can infiltrate my soul like an uninvited guest that I keep letting in the front door. Sin works like that, doesn’t it? I don’t want it to poison my life, but there is something slightly appealing about it. The taste of sin satisfies my bent heart. I hang onto sin because, in a convoluted way, it gives me power. When I nurse my jealousy, it makes me feel justified, right, and strong. I run through imaginary scenarios of why this or that person doesn’t deserve the opportunity they have been given. I can do this with strangers, institutions, churches, and friendships. I can find anything to be envious about.
Oftentimes, the frequency of my jealously can fluctuate. I’ve been able to manage it enough so that it doesn’t ruin my life. I use my own accomplishments, busyness, and adventures to keep my sin under control. But I keep opening the door and letting it invade my inner world. I hold onto it just in case I need it to feel strong again.
If I’m being honest, I don’t want it gone. But it’s also honest to say, “It’s slowly rotting my soul.”
The water was hot over my body. I needed to be cleansed. Like kneading bread dough, I played the stories out in my head again and again. But this time, instead of using sin to give me strength, I saw how terrible it was turning my thoughts. I saw how much I had let envy tangle me up, contort reality, and drive me to dishonesty. I didn’t want to just say the right thing to my friend. I wanted to feel differently. I wanted to be different.
I want to purely celebrate people. I want to believe that another person’s achievement doesn’t diminish my worth. I want to cheer loudly, clap hard, and be the first one to stand up for others’ dreams coming true. But before I can do that, I have to choose another way. I have to close the door to sin. I have to refuse to let sin consume any part of my soul. I have to treat my deceit, lust, resentment, and gluttony like the poison that they are. No sin can give me power, strength, or security. No sin can save me, hold me, or love me back.
I let the water wash over me and wept. Lord, have mercy. It was sad to see how much I had let sin roam freely in my soul.
I’m often afraid to trust that God will meet me in the middle of my mess. It’s hard to hold onto Jesus instead of my jealousy. But I believe there is a better way. God promises the way to freedom is through Jesus. Do I believe Jesus is enough? Timidly, but with assurance, I do believe this. Perhaps it would be safer to say that I’m learning to believe Jesus is my strength, stronghold, and constant; I’ve let sin take residence in my soul for far too long.
For today, and I pray for tomorrow, I am putting my foot down. I am closing the door to the unwanted, slithery, creature of sin that so easily takes up space inside of me. For far too long I’ve put my hope in my ability to manage, maneuver, justify, tone down, and tame my sin. But that’s not the life I want. It cripples and cuts me off from my true source of love. Love is always within reach, but the choice to stand up to my sin or nurse it is always mine.
The real question remains for each of us: What kind of life do we want? Do we want freedom or a soul warped by sin?
I dried off and texted my dear friend back, YOU DID IT! I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU! I said the right thing, and my heart began to feel the right way.Leave a Comment