The Green-Eyed Monster


Last year I was jealous of all the lucky writers who went to the Relevant conference. This year, I was still jealous, and I was there.

You see, I have a problem with envy. A big problem.

I spend a lot of time and energy comparing myself to other writers, primarily writers who are farther along on the publishing journey than I am.

Why did she get the book contract? I wonder. Why did she get chosen to write for that group? Why does she have that many readers? Why does she get so many retweets on her posts or likes on her Facebook page? Why do all the good things happen to her and not me?

I know. It’s ugly.

The irony is that while I listened to the Relevant speakers talk about this very issue, I vowed to let my jealousy go. I vowed I would no longer compare myself to other writers. That I would simply write for God and for the readers who showed up at my door. That I would put the publishing journey entirely in God’s hands. That I would rejoice over the accomplishments of my fellow writers and cheer them forward onto greater successes. And I meant it. I felt these promises in my heart, and I was encouraged to begin anew. I felt light and free and joyful.

It lasted four days.

The very same week I returned from Relevant, I read online about two deserving writers who signed book contracts with two major Christian publishers. And rather than rejoice and celebrate with them, my instantaneous reaction was envy. I felt the sharp spike of jealousy sear my core and settle into the pit of my stomach, where it smoldered, a hot ache.

I prayed about it, I did. I put my head in my hands right there at my desk at work, with my officemate sitting three feet behind me, and I prayed that God would destroy my jealousy. I prayed that he would cure me of envy, bitterness and resentment and replace the ugliness with warmth, joy and love.

And nothing happened.

I didn’t feel any better.

In fact, I felt a good bit worse, because now, not only was I rife with envy, I also despaired that God had even heard me, that he had ever heard this particular plea (after all, it wasn’t the first time I’d asked God to cure me of this ugly jealousy; this has been an ongoing conversation between God and me for a while now).

I admit, sometimes I feel so much pressure as I walk this believing life. I expect that as a Christian, as a believer, I should pray and through that process of prayer and repentance, I should be transformed. I don’t expect that it will happen overnight. But I do expect that transformation will happen eventually.

So where does that leave me, when the much-anticipated, much-desired transformation doesn’t occur?

I wonder, how can I be a real Christian, a real believer, if I wrestle with the same sin over and over again, day after day after day? Wouldn’t a real believer have moved beyond this by now? Wouldn’t a real believer, through the grace of God, have grown up and tossed this insidious jealousy aside once and for all? How can the same sin persist in me, despite the fact that I don’t want it, despite the fact that I pray to be rid of it? Why isn't this working?

I don’t have any answers. This post doesn’t have a happy ending (which is a real bummer, because I prefer happy endings). I wish I could say I prayed last week in my office, and then I turned around and my officemate offered up a lovely and timely piece of wisdom that changed my perspective on everything.

But that didn’t happen. In fact, when I confessed a bit of my angst, she asked if I had a meeting lined up with my pastor anytime in the near future.

Clearly I am in a bad state.

What did happen was that I went back to my job, accomplished what I needed to, and then packed my bags, trudged down to the parking lot and began the ten-minute drive home. I popped in the “Jesus CD,” as the kids call it (yes, we only have one), sang Come to Jesus really loudly along with Chris Rice and felt (marginally) better.

So what about you? Have you ever been caught in the relentless sin-repent-repeat cycle? And if you broke free, how in the world did you do it?

And if you're like me and maybe need a bit of the "Jesus CD" this week, sing along with this. It might make you feel better (marginally).

Southern Gal  – (November 11, 2011 at 6:10 AM)  

When I first read this I couldn't post a comment, so I reloaded the page and went to Nancy's to read her new post.   You two are covering hard topics with powerful words.  Thank you for sharing this.  I struggle with envy.  I wonder how much time I've wasted on envious thoughts?  And He blesses me so much...I need to put in a Jesus CD today.

Janet  – (November 11, 2011 at 6:22 AM)  

Michelle,
You know what I love about your writing?   I love that you write openly and inspirationally.  You may not be where you want to be, but you are right where God wants you to be for this time.  It means His perfect deal is yet to come and with anticipation you can wait for it.  Honoring Him right where you are sure beats the blogs where they lure people in with giveaways and promotions or writing a post because they have to...they lack what your blog/writing has...passion.  
Keep striving toward your goals of publishing and overcoming the green eyed monster.  God hears your prayers.  He will help you through.  You're not alone in the battle, you are just honest enough to admit it. :)

Nancy Franson  – (November 11, 2011 at 6:40 AM)  

Southern Gal mentioned your post at my place, so I needed to hop over here to see what you were talking about. I wrote about ugly sin that someone buried deep, that ended up wounding a lot of people. You wrote about an ongoing struggle with sin, opening yourself up in recognition of God's healing grace. On the internet of all places! Huge. Difference.

I know the "If I were a real Christian" argument, but here's the thing: only the heart that has been transformed by grace can grieve over the presence of sin in it. When we grieve the things that grieve God, it's evidence that He is at work in our lives. The thing about an ongoing struggle is that it reminds us of how desperately we need to cling to Christ--daily, hourly, minute-by-minute. If all my junk were gone tomorrow, I might think I could get along just fine without him.

Love your honest, jealous heart Michelle. And I promise I will always be an inferior writer to you so there will never be any jealousy between us :)

Shawn Smucker  – (November 11, 2011 at 7:16 AM)  

Michelle - first of all, I don't know of any writers that don't struggle with this from time to time. I do all the time. All the time. As Anne Lamott writes, "If you continue to write, you are probably going to have to deal with jealousy, because some wonderful, dazzling successes are going to happen for some of the most awful, angry, undeserving writers you know - people who are, in other words, not you."

Some more wisdom from Anne: "My therapist said that jealousy is a secondary emotion, that it is born out of feeling excluded and deprived...she said it was once again that business of comparing my insides to other people's outsides."

I could type the entire chapter in here, but I don't want to clog up your comment feed more than I already have. So here are three things I do when feeling jealous:

1) I ask myself, "Is this jealousy, or just intense appreciation of someone else's talent?" Usually it's jealousy, but sometimes it's the former.
2) I try to use those feelings to motivate me to write better - like you did here. This is a great post.
3) Finally, if I'm feeling REALLY jealous, I try to help promote the person I'm feeling jealous of on Twitter or Facebook or some other way. There's something about being on that person's side that makes their success feel more like mine.

Sorry such a long comment! I probably should have just written a blog post...

Megan Willome  – (November 11, 2011 at 7:26 AM)  

And you know what else you did? You wrote a post about it! That is part of the process.

You are such a delight!

Mary Bonner  – (November 11, 2011 at 7:36 AM)  

I agree with Megan, this is part of the process.  This is a bold step...you put it out there for everyone to see.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE your transparency.  I don't think I am that bold.  I can see you, Nancy and me discussing about this over a glass of wine...let's include Deidra next time.

Overcoming sin IS a process - that takes time.  Hang in there, continue to pray and remember those that DO come to your table.

Kim  – (November 11, 2011 at 8:10 AM)  

I struggle with this all the time with my photography. I don't want to be jealous - but I am. Know you are not alone in this. I try to turn my jealousy into admiration and study the work of those I "admire" :o) to learn how to make my own art better. God introduces all sorts of people to our paths to help make us stronger - stronger writers/photographers, and stronger people. I love what Nancy said about if all her junk were gone we might feel like we don't need God. Love your writing! Thanks for sharing your gift and inspiring me.

Lyla Lindquist  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:02 AM)  

Real Christians don't wrestle the same sin over and over? Better move me over to the check-out line, friend. 

As I read this, I thought real Christians own their sin. And they wrestle it. They don't pretend the don't wrestle with it. (Kind of like you just did here, owned it and stuck it out in the open.) Here's what else I thought:

"For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me." 

David said that, Ps. 51. He was a rock star. Guy after God's own heart. And his sin was always right in front of his face.

On the right road, you are. ;-)

journeytoepiphany  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:26 AM)  

Dearest Michelle,
I have done worse.  I have hated myself for not being a different voice, a better writer, a more deserving candidate.  I've considered giving up, throwing in the towel...because I've deemed myself unworthy, and not valuable enough to listen to.  Self hatred is definitely uglier than jealousy.  In fact, my post for this coming Monday is all about this.

Whatever the vice, it is a ploy of Satan to talk us out of being an influence and into being influenced...by him.  Out of being a bold voice for the Creative One, or quietly internalizing the enemy's accusations.  It doesn't matter if the accusations seem true.  We are redeemed.  Redeemed from jealousy, self-hatred, low self esteem and yes, even writer's block. 

Thank you for your willingness to be transparent.

Kim

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:31 AM)  

I'm off to work, but before I left I just wanted to say thank you so much for the wise words and heartfelt encouragement in the comments here  today. You are all so incredibly sweet and generous to offer such thoughtful insights on this wrestling I am entrenched in lately. Thank you, thank you - I am just so grateful for you today.

Jenn  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:53 AM)  

Oh, how I relate to this. Struggling with sin, trying to give it up but having it continue to lurk. You are certainly not alone.

Thank you for your openness.

smoothstones –   – (November 11, 2011 at 11:20 AM)  

I wage war with a different, negative feeling...and guilt, which follows. I gotcha. I understand. After years and years of waging war, God called me deep into the Word. Let me rephrase. He'd probably called me deep into the Word from the outset, but it took me years and years to understand and respond. My best piece of advice would be to track it down, Michelle, in the Word of God. Hunt it back. Dive into the Bible and read every mention of "envy"...or "jealousy," making sure you understand the contexts of these verses. And God will reveal His secrets to you; He will. He never hides from us when we seek Him, and the Bible is His Word. Continue praying and don't be afraid to yell at it when it comes calling. Say: "Get thee behind me, Satan," because that's from whom it comes. Love you. You're amazing, and we all think so, but the more you're able to stop thinking about what we think and think about what God thinks, the better. (For the record, He thinks you're amazing, too.)

Janet –   – (November 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM)  

I wanted to say that we are all human, and envy is part of the human condition - and as long as we are aware of it and turn to God with it, and tell Him we want to change, we are on the right track -

I also wanted to say that perhaps not everyone is called by God to publish a book, because many of the individuals who have touched me the most and had the biggest impact on my life were bloggers, not authors of Christian books - and there are many very busy women with children (or without) who have the time to read a blog, and be inspired by it, but will not sit down to read an entire book, because of simple lack of time - and you can reach these women with your blog -

Lastly, St. Paul wrote that he had a "thorn in his side" which he could not overcome on his own, and he also wrote that the things which he wanted to do, he did not do, and the things that he did not want to do, he found himself doing.  (Sorry for the clumsy translation - I don't have a Bible near me...)  So even Paul had to rely on the grace of God and on Christ to overcome his flaws!

I believe that it is one's intent which is the most important in these issues of having flaws, and it is clear that your intent is to not be envious, and God looks at intent more than anything.

JosephPote –   – (November 11, 2011 at 11:34 AM)  

What a wonderfully refreshingly honest post!

Michelle, this is exactly the sort of thing I would like to hear more Christians talk about (me included).  Too often, we give the impression that after accepting Christ everything just miraculously falls into place, and we march along the path of righteousness singing praises to God.

But that's now how it really happens...or at least not for me...and not for those of my friends whom I most trust to be completely honest with me.

Apparently, the Christian walk didn't work that way for the Apostle Paul, either, based on his letters, where he talks about contradictions like strength in weakness and a willing spirit cohabitating with a weak flesh.

Three words of encouragement for you:

First, you are not alone.  We all fight these sorts of battles on a daily basis, and when we're not fighting them it's either because we have momentarily given up, or decided to momentarily pretend they don't exist.

Second, when given to God to be used of Him, both the weakness and the transparency ARE used of God to shine the lgiht of His glory (see yesterday's post on my blog for more on this topic).

Third, based on my personal experience, I do best when I focus less on avoiding sin and more on loving Christ.  Whether biking, skiing, barrel racing, or golfing, the surest way to hit the hazard is to focus on trying to avoid the hazard.  We go toward what we are focused on.  To avoid the hazard, focus not on the hazard, but on the path you wish to follow.

Oh...and one more thing... KEEP POSTING THESE AWESOME MESSAGES!

God bless! 

Gaby  – (November 11, 2011 at 11:41 AM)  

Oh, girl. I have yet to meet a "real Christian" that does not struggle with something they have to continually hand over to God daily. Paul's thorn in the flesh type of thing. I'm with Nancy commenting above me: I often wonder if God does not magically take my struggles away so that I have to continue to rely on his grace daily to fight the battle. If he would "cure" me of my ongoing sins, would I feel self-sufficient and forget that I once desperately needed his grace and forgiveness? You are not alone and thank you for being transparent.

joan taylor –   – (November 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM)  

Michelle,

Oh my, I can really relate.  I can meet you in the ugly.

I recently wrote a post titled 'Surrendered".  In that post I shared how I struggled with God's plan for me being a writer, speaker, and teacher ( "why has it manifested so beautifully for so many women I see, but not completely for me").  "Why didn't I  get that kind of book deal".  "Why is her scheduled packed with speaking engagements, but yet I still wait". 

Honestly, my emotions were robbing me of joy.  Even though I would choose joy, I felt that it would be stolen within the same day.  It was continuum of angst.  I decided no more, I wanted to enjoy the process of how God worked perfectly in my life.  Although I have felt that He was almost always late, He is always right on time. 

I surrendered.

I hung my dissatisfaction with God's plan for me on the cross. 

I desperately wanted to choose experiencing joy in His process of unveiling my calling.  I knew this would be a process that required patience.  And I am a work in progress. 

Whenever I feel  that all too familiar angst of comparison coming on, I stop, drop, pray, and hang it on the cross.

Diane bailey –   – (November 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM)  

Ohhhhh yes! I finally got my book published and I still am frustrated. I still need to slap the green eyed monster! I am goal driven so I struggle giving God control of my success. But when I do I find greater joy. You are welcomed to try my publisher BorderStone press

Shelly –   – (November 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM)  

Waiting on God, it is sometimes the hardest part of this faith journey. Just so inspired by your honesty and I think you are fabulous . . that is why I keep coming back to read. In his timing, it will be perfect.

Niki –   – (November 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM)  

I'm always thankful for people who are real like you. It reminds me that I'm not the only one who struggles with pesky sins. I can certainly relate to this. Not just about writing but about lots of things. Maybe you'll find comfort in the fact that the Apostle Paul too struggled with pesky reoccurring sins. Yet he was an AMAZING man of God and his writings still speak to hundreds of generations after him. He was a REAL Christian and in Romans 7 He said...

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, WAGING WAR AGAINST THE LAW OF MY MIND AND MAKING ME A PRISONER of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." 
The battle is in the mind. I'm learning that envy really comes from believing lies about my own position & gifts... lies like, "I'm not good enough where I am." Maybe those lies are based on a foundation of pride & insecurity. The enemy is a liar who seeks to destroy us through deception. ("A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." - Proverbs 14:30) So one thing I try to do when I'm feeling "less than," or insecure or envious is ask God to reveal to me what lie I'm believing about myself, my situation and about my God. Once I realize the lie(s) I renounce them through prayer and proclaim His truth instead. It's a life long process of sanctification. But meditating on truth really helps. :)  I certainly don't mean to sound preachy. It's just that I'm in the middle of the same battle, so I'm really talking to myself. 

Goodness, sorry this was so long. Hope it was even just a tiny bit helpful. 

xoxo- Blessings.
(More food for thought: Ecclesiastes 4:4; 1 Cor. 13:4; James 3:13-18)

Joanne Norton –   – (November 11, 2011 at 12:39 PM)  

Much older than you, struggling much the same over much the same reasons.  In fact, was discussing this Wednesday afternoon with one of my spiritual sisters.  She encouraged me.  Lasted a day.  Back to frustration re: jealousy and wondering where I fit.  So.... on and on it goes and where it stops nobody knows -- but I DO, b/c it will leave, if no other time, when I get to heaven.

Lisa  – (November 11, 2011 at 1:05 PM)  

I so appreciate your honesty and transparency, Michelle.  Jealousy is something I deal with too.    I think the repent, repeat cycle keeps us humble.   It's got to be all about Him and not about us. 

Sam  – (November 11, 2011 at 1:10 PM)  

I couldn't agree more with Joseph's response.  Keep your eyes on God.  What everyone else is doing is just "noise."  

Courtney Buxton  – (November 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM)  

Oh, Michelle - You are not alone. I don't know what I can add that hasn't already been said in this super comment thread. So many great responses here! 

As for me, I guess that I take some comfort in the fact that God doesn't expect me to be sin-free. He just expects me to keep confessing it and coming to Him about it, which is just what you are doing. We don't know when or if He will ever get you totally out of that cycle - we just know that He loves you, He forgives you, and He wants you to have faith in Him. 

Kendal  – (November 11, 2011 at 5:15 PM)  

yes. i live as a sin cyclist. and guess what? one of them is envy. it is NASTY. i've had her on my back since i was a child wearing the wrong clothes. for some reason, it's been a tad better recently. i was basically forced into a shop not situation when my husband changed jobs. well, went without one for a while and then went full-time into ministry with wycliffe which requires him to raise his support....i have had to let go of some envy/expectations or i was going to be eaten alive with it.....but still. she lurks.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:03 PM)  

Oh Nancy, you are an incredible grace to me today. I just love your insights here -- especially the part about only a transformed heart can grieve the presence of sin in it. Honestly, I never really thought of it that way. Thank you, dear friend, thank you.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:06 PM)  

You are so right -- it is a daily, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute reliance on God's grace, isn't it? I just feel so lame sometimes, in my inability to overcome something so stupid and ugly -- but those rock-bottom moments are when I most often turn to God in complete humility and reliance.

Thank you sister, for your encouragement and empathy. It means so much to me.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:14 PM)  

Joe, you are awesome! Thank you so much for your encouragement and support -- as well as for your three tips. I am heartened by your words here -- especially about God using us, ALL of us (including our weaknesses) to shine His light. I will pop over to read your post on that topic this weekend. Thank you!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:15 PM)  

Perfectly simple, perfectly true advice, Sam. Thank you.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:18 PM)  

Ah yes, a "sin cyclist." I like that, Kendal. Sometimes I think it's under control, the envy, and then, like you said, she rears her ugly head again. Thus the cycle. I guess, in that moment of prayer in my office, I was handing it all over to God. Unfortunately, I didn't exactly feel relieved of my burden. But thanks to you and the other lovely commenters here, I feel the burden lifted.

Thank you, beautiful friend.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:21 PM)  

Such an important point, Courtney - one I forget too often: that God doesn't expect us to be sin-free...he simply expects us to repent and give our hearts to him.

And thank you for reminding me that he loves me in spite of everything. Why do I forget that so often?

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:22 PM)  

You are so right -- the cycle does keep me humble. I simple realized the other day that it's not entirely in my control. I think that's why I spontaneously prayed in my office (not something I typically do); I just simply had to hand it all over.

Thanks for your comment and empathy -- I so appreciate it!

Karna –   – (November 11, 2011 at 9:23 PM)  

I admire your honesty, Michelle. Our spiritual journeys would be pretty boring and lifeless if every story had an automatic "happy ending." wouldn't they?

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:23 PM)  

Ah yes, good point, Joanne -- the cycle will come to an eternal end some day, and we will all experience sweet relief of peace and harmony!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:28 PM)  

Niki, how can I thank you enough? So, so much wisdom and compassion here -- thank you, thank you for that. And thank you, too, for reminding me of those Romans verses. I remember reading that passage before and thinking, "Yes,  that's exactly it, that's exactly how I feel." I am so grateful to you for taking the time to type it all out here for my reflection (and for others who might be struggling with the sin cycle, too!).

You have been so very helpful. I will return to that Romans verse and meditate on it, as well as what you have written here today. And thank you for the additional verses, too -- I will read them tomorrow morning during my quiet time.

Blessings to you, too, friend -- we are together on this journey. Love you!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:29 PM)  

Shelly, you are just sweetness itself! And yes, "waiting on God" -- that's it, isn't it? And funny that you mention that -- I recently wrote another draft of a post on the subject of waiting...but I hadn't connected those thoughts with this struggle I wrote about here today. Thank you for connecting the two for me.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:31 PM)  

Thank you, Diane -- you are a generous spirit! And yes, I am Type A , goal-driven, too -- I think that's definitely part of the cycle.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:35 PM)  

Joan, your words speak right to my heart tonight -- thank you for taking the time to share part of your journey and struggle here. You hit the nail on the end -- the jealousy robs me of joy. And it's just so ugly and frustrating and disappointing.

This, especially, is etched on my heart: "I desperately want to choose experiencing joy in His process of unveling my calling." It is a process, a process -- not instantaneous. Furthermore it's HIS process, not mine, and that alone makes it perfect.

Joan, you are a blessing -- thank you.  

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:38 PM)  

Janet, I so appreciate you wisdom and insights here today -- especially the bit about God's calling for me, and the honest fact that it might not be to publish a book. Deep within me I've felt that the blog is not "enough" -- but you've helped me see that it may be exactly the thoughts and timing that is perfectly right for one reader -- and perhaps that is God's intention all along.

Thank you, too, for reminding me of Paul's verses in Romans -- another commenter quoted them here today, too (but your translations was very accurate, especially considering you didn't have a Bible on hand!).

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:42 PM)  

Oh my word I just love this comment. Thank you for this wonderful advice. Can you believe it never even occurred me to hunt down every verse related to envy in the Bible, in the hopes that I would find some insights there? I read the Bible very regularly, but I never search out anything in particular. Thank you for offering me that tool...as well as your encouragement and empathy. I pray that with God's grace and power, you will overcome your war as well.

Love you!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:43 PM)  

Thank YOU, Jenn -- appreciate you being here!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:46 PM)  

And thank you for your willingness to share your struggles, too, Kim. It helps to know that we are not alone in these battles. I was feeling pretty lonely the other day when I wrote this post, like I was the only bad Christian in the entire world (I know that's silly...but it can feel that way sometimes, can't it?!).

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:47 PM)  

Thank you dearest Lyla, for reminding me of that Psalm, and of the fact that David, esteemed man of God, was so very flawed as well. I am reading through the Psalms right now -- I think I am on 27. I will think of you when I get to 51 -- and I'm thanking God for you right this very minute.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:50 PM)  

I think that's a really good strategy, Kim -- to turn towards those we might be jealous of, and try to learn from them. Or like Shawn said in the comment below, to even go so far as to offer praise and encouragement to someone we might be envious of -- that does seem to defeat the winds of jealousy right on the spot.

Thanks for being so honest here about your own struggles with jealousy, too -- it makes me feel not so alone. We are on this journey together friend, with God's good grace behind us all the way.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:52 PM)  

This is exactly what Brad said to me the day I came home from work all teary and disgusted that I fell so hard into jealousy's snare yet again. He pointed out that the first step toward recovery is admitting that there is a problem. Ok...did that...  :)

But seriously, I appreciate your advice and your reminder to pray, pray, pray. I think that's part of my issue -- when the jealousy subsides for a time, I forget to pray about it, and then I'm surprised all over again when it rears its ugly head. I think I need to keep it more prominently on my radar screen.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:53 PM)  

Thanks for pointing that out, Megan. And I'm glad I wrote about it, I am. Although I was reluctant to hit publish, I felt better after writing -- and crying -- my way through it.

Hugs to you...

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:56 PM)  

Love, love Anne Lamott. I totally remember that part about jealousy -- I remember laughing when I read it (not nearly so funny now!).

I love your three tips, too -- especially #3. You know what? I've tried that, and it works. Even if I don't really *want* to promote someone I am envious of, when I do, I actually feel better about the whole issue -- it just deflates the evil jealous monster right down to nothing.

You really need to write a blog post about this, Shawn -- there is just way too much good stuff here in your comment!

Thank you for being the perfect medicine for my ill spirit -- you are wonderful!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 9:58 PM)  

Oh Janet, you are so wonderfully sweet and encouraging. Thank you for this lovely, supportive comment. I'm so very grateful for you tonight!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 11, 2011 at 10:00 PM)  

Thanks for mentioning Nancy's post, Renee -- I'm going to head over there now to read it. And I'm comforted to know I'm not the only one wrestling with envy. It is a waste of time and energy, isn't it? Yet I succumb to it so often.

Thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement today. Glad to have you in my life, friend.

Lyla Lindquist  – (November 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM)  

And I just laughed out loud that you would think of me when you read Psalm 51... as David confesses his particularly heinous behavior. (And yes, worry not. I know what you meant. But good fun for me all the same. :) )

Shaunie Friday  – (November 12, 2011 at 2:51 AM)  

Oh Michelle, I so know how you're feeling--I have to admit to the green-eyed monster in me too.  It's not even that I begrudge others their successes, I just do get frustrated by how far I am from where I want to be and how it seems so easy for the ones who have the book deals and calendars filled with speaking engagements.  Then those feelings make me feel bad and unspiritual and the discouraging thoughts begin.

As for wondering whether "real Christians" struggle with the same sins over and over again, the short answer is yes.  The fact that you are bothered by this and want to get rid of it is evidence of His presence in your heart!

You are such a blessing to so many--thanks for making me feel like I'm in good company! 

Shaunie 

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 12, 2011 at 9:53 AM)  

That shows you how well I know my psalms! Now when I get to that one I'll laugh, remembering my comment (of course I only meant that I'll remember your kind and empathetic words here!).

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM)  

Thank you SO much, Shaunie, for admitting that you suffer from the same struggles sometimes. It does make me feel better knowing I am not alone in these challenges!

mamaabby –   – (November 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM)  

I am late to this 'sin party';} as usual...You know, all I have to say is that these insidious roots go so deep and even though you DON'T think you're growing, you really are because He is faithful and promises to grow you.  Maybe it is growth in your angst and force of struggle--lack of ability to resign yourself to having this struggle.  That in itself is increasing your desire to be healed and bringing you closer to the place of desperation which always precipitates that...this, the depth of knowing your need for Him and a deeper place from which you cry out for Him...

And you know, it's Beauty.  It's Beauty that saves and always the gaze not on what is ugly but on what is beautiful--one of my all time favorite quotes:: 'faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God' ~A.W. Tozer.  And when I am so discouraged with the on-going it is this awareness of Who I behold to be transformed and with that the greater sense of His Beauty because I am knowing a greater depth of my insufficiency...

I say all of this from a place so very much in the midst of heart struggles, not a place of being on the other side of you, just so you know:}

amanda  – (November 12, 2011 at 3:59 PM)  

I always appreciate your honesty. None of us are so spiritual that we don't struggle with those same issues. Love your words here … and can’t wait to read them in book form soon enough!   

Lori –   – (November 12, 2011 at 5:23 PM)  

Hi Michelle! I so appreciated this post. And you don't have to worry about being a "real Christian" just the fact that you are concerned about that is confirmation that you are. Some comments have alluded to Paul's thorn in the flesh and they are right. There is a reason God didn't remove it whatever it was. Maybe it was physical, maybe it was pride...whatever it was, it gives me comfort to know that Paul struggled with this.

You are a blessing to me and many others, and I am looking forward to your book. It will happen for you, I just know it! Lori

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 12, 2011 at 5:38 PM)  

You know what? I remember the part about Paul's thorn...but I sort of forgot that God didn't remove it, for whatever reason. That details gives me comfort and hope -- thank you so much for reminding me of that particular detail.

Lori, you are such an incredible supporter and encourager -- I just love your heart and YOU!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 12, 2011 at 5:40 PM)  

Amanda, you are beautiful grace. Thank you for always being a voice of hope and encouragement!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 12, 2011 at 5:43 PM)  

You are so wise, Abby, to point to the fact that the greater our insufficiency glares, the more obvious is our need for Him. God always has to get in my face with this stuff because I tend to be quite dim about it. Maybe this pit of dispair and frustration is just Him knowing that's where I need to go to begin the redemption and healing process.

Anyway, as always your voice so clearly speaks the light of God, Abby -- you are just amazing that way, and I so love that about you (among many other of your wonderful qualities!).

Sheila Seiler Lagrand  – (November 12, 2011 at 6:37 PM)  

Michelle, 
Everyone's given you awesome insights and advice. I second them all. And I want to add this:Bravo for your courage in writing and posting this. I have this issue that plagues me, and it's so petty I'm ashamed to tell anyone. It's easier for me to confess a big significant sin than this "little" one that gnaws at me. I don't mean to imply that your struggle with jealousy is petty....please don't read that into this. I'm just trying to emphasize how deeply I respect you for posting this. 

So thank you for showing me that it's mature and honest and real to confess our sins. 

mamaabby –   – (November 12, 2011 at 10:00 PM)  

Thank you and just wish we could share over coffee and pray together...but, we are so blessed to have met in ways that were not possible even 10 years ago and so I am thankful. Praying for you sister:}

Lori  – (November 13, 2011 at 7:02 AM)  

Michelle, your honesty is amazing.  And though your struggle with this continues, let me tell you, your perseverance through disappointment will be what matters after all.  I can say this because for 20 years I continue to tell myself I am an artist (I paint and sculpt) but the number of pieces I have done in the past 15 years is pitiful.  Why? Because I am cowed by the talents of others, my fear of not reaching perfection overshadows my desire to create, and I allow other things to supersede what I feel is a God given talent, because I let fear and jealously rule. Finally, I can't say enough about your talent. I just recently discovered your blog but off the top of my head, your essay about the airline brought tears to my eyes.  Remember Jer 29:11.  Peace ~Lori

Meredith Resnick –   – (November 13, 2011 at 9:47 AM)  

You are so insightful!  I love reading all that you have to share.  I would love it if you would link this post and/or any other ones to my new Link Party all about appreciation and gratitude.  
Please?!?!
Thanks!  :)
Meredith From A Mother Seeking   Come find me on my blog, A Mother Seeking... 

leslie  – (November 14, 2011 at 11:33 AM)  

Michelle, what you just described is Romans 7:22-25:

"For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" 

Paul (undoubtedly a "true" believer) wrote those words just for you and me. Just so we could know that through the person and the work of Jesus Christ we can be set free from our wretchedness. We are all learning to walk by His Spirit. And we all stumble many times along the way. 

C.S. Lewis wrote something once, about how we almost need to try and try, and fail, so we can know how much we need God to rescue us. How much we need Him to do the work that we absolutely cannot accomplish in our own strength. 

So be encouraged. "... He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil. 1:6

thefisherlady –   – (November 15, 2011 at 3:01 PM)  

your heart is precious! Michelle is so blessed to have your message today as was I to see God's amazing grace through his kids...by this they will know that Jesus is sent from the Father... if they have love one for another...
your words are truth and balm
blessings

thefisherlady –   – (November 15, 2011 at 3:19 PM)  

Michelle... you are very honest, open, sincere...
Sometimes we have an idea of how we want the 'world' to see us. When others get the recognition and we sit back in the sidelines aching because we were sure it should be us... then just remember Jesus.
He, being God very God, did not go about 'to be published' or to be the best, or the leader, or the winner, or the most famous, or the most sought after... and even though He was all these things to His followers, He never set it as His aim.
His goal was to bring glory to His Father, and understanding all that entailed, He continued until He could say it is finished...
The Father said of Him... this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
I have found that I can never make my mark in the world if I wish to make my mark with the Father... the two do not harmonize. But if I am faithful to bless my Father, there will always be the blessing with His people, if we wait for it and don't look for it.
Go about His business and this will make Him famous... then others will remember who you are and will value what you say because it reflects the Kingdom and the One who is worthy.
He must become more and we must become less...
May you find favour with God and man Michelle... remember you are very loved
Thank you for a very sincere post.
God loves a humble heart

thefisherlady –   – (November 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM)  

thought this might bless you from David Wilkerson
It is titled... give up on measuring up
http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/15597?src=devo-email

Barbara –   – (January 14, 2012 at 6:09 AM)  

Really enjoyed the song -- thanks, Michelle!

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