For several months a friend repeated her envy of another. Her friend married a Harvard educated doctor, lives a life of prosperous wealth, works part-time, travels, owns an exquisite home and lives with relative ease.
Envy seemed to know no bound – until this past week.
During a meeting of a Christian group the envied friend requested prayers to fight early dementia, her constant forgetfulness and inability to find the right words. And having a sarcastic sense of humor, I quietly learned over and whispered, “Envy her now?”
Whether or not I’m the prick everyone claims that I, at times, can be, we all know this envy. Everyone of us has envied someone else. “Gosh, if I only have what she has? Then I would make it.” “Wow, if I only had the talent he has? I would know no bounds.”
All of us know someone better. They appear better, seem better; live better, laugh better and probably shit better. They’re better, in every way.
By perceiving others to have an advantage we subconsciously “level the playing field.” We make up the difference by puffing ourselves. “I am envious of your success” translates to “I wish you would fail, I deserve your success more.” I am not happy with who, what or where I am.
Envy runs through history like raging water after heavy rain. It’s seen people kill, take their own lives, maim, undermine and give up. We aspire, then we hate.
Truthfully, there are days even I envy. After three decades of illness, I’ve worked hard on overcoming those who dart past me at 90 miles an hour without a care. I envy those who wake up without pain berating their body. I’ve envied this or that; this place, that place, here or there.
Envy – such a painful emotion that prevents peace within the moment, life as it is.
This Thanksgiving, serve gratitude. Be grateful to someone. Look outside yourself and acknowledge your dependency on others – in particular love – for its the source of life’s goodness. Thank everyone for kindness, generosity and friendship.
Just as my friend was shocked by another’s dementia diagnosis – be careful for which you envy, for God might provide.