Everyone has a story that starts somewhere. A beginning. A place you can pin point and say “that’s where it all started.” Sometimes it takes decades of space to be able to look back and see that place on the journey God has you on. Maybe it takes counseling – or should take counseling.
I’m a fan of counseling and fully intend to save up my pennies to be able to afford some.
But since I’m not there yet, we’ll just take a walk back memory lane. Because you don’t suffer from a legacy of jealousy accidentally. It feels like it was built into my DNA like my eye color and freckles and shoe size. Could I joke and blame it on being a twin, never having my own completely unique identity and having to share ALL THE THINGS?
Sure. But that would be unfair and untrue.
My struggle with jealousy reared it’s ugly head in college. Growing up in a small town it was easy to be good at things. I was thirteen when we got our first home computer on ancient dial-up and – although I spent far too many hours in far too many AOL chat rooms talking with far too many complete strangers – it wasn’t like it is now. There was no social media. The internet wasn’t a place for bullies – we still just had the old school in-person version of that, and I ran into a few..and was one now and again.
I was pretty content to do my own thing in high school. I knew I loved writing and reading, music and the arts, and college was in my future. I wasn’t part of the cool kids but I wasn’t unwelcome by them either. I was just me. And it was good enough.
Somewhere in those terribly crucial formative years of college, I forgot who I was. Maybe it’s because I was in the minority for the first time in my life – a small town protestant gal surrounded by incredibly rich catholic students. I felt inferior when it came to nearly everything – my clothes, my accent, my abilities (that C- in international studies was a blow to my ego), my faith.
Not even halfway through my freshman year my roommate decided she didn’t want to room with me any longer. What used to be our study room turned into my room and her desk slid across the hall into her room. She even lined up people to help make it happen.
I’d never been so blatantly rejected before, and as it stacked insecurity on top of insecurity. Instead of going out and finding true friends, I remember sitting in my room listening to everyone else laugh and connect and wonder why I wasn’t invited.
Ultimately, as I experienced more rejection from friends, didn’t get picked for opportunities I thought I deserved, and chose loneliness over more hurt, I build a wall around my heart. Each brick a terribly unfair expectation of a friend, a co-worker, a classmate. I expected failure and disappointment. I expected to be invited and was jealous when I wasn’t. I expected to be included and was jealous when I wasn’t. I expected to be recognized and was jealous when someone else was.
I was thinking so highly of myself and yet so terribly insecure that I was stuck in an endless cycle of expectation and jealousy.
Don’t get me wrong – identifying where it all started isn’t the end of the journey. It’s only the beginning. I am a self-proclaimed work in progress. The reason I’m writing this series is because God has, even just in the last few months, continued to work with me on this issue. It’s a weakness that I pray daily God will turn into a strength. May He use my failures and faults for His glory, somehow.
Is this an area you struggle in? When you spend time praying about it, where does God reveal it all started for you?
We’ll be back tomorrow to chat about what jealousy looks like in my life before we dig into what God says about it.