RESHAPING A JEALOUS HEART
by Tesh Njokanma 1/31/2013 / Relationships
Gloria and Bunmi had been great friends for years. They were so close that if you didn’t take a close look, you could mistake them for sisters. As a matter of fact, a number of people referred to them as sisters. They attended the same University, read the same course, graduated on the same day, had the same circle of friends, and had faced similar challenges in life. Their relationship could conveniently fit into your definition of true friendship. When you talk of a shoulder to cry on, someone you can rely on, someone who accepts you for who you are, you needn’t look any further. Gloria and Bunmi were your perfect examples. Or so everyone thought until the day Bunmi ecstatically announced that she was getting married.
Ordinarily, one would have thought Gloria would be delighted to hear the good news, but she wasn’t, she really wasn’t. She wasn’t in the least bit happy. It’s funny how something you hear for just a few minutes can radically change your life either for good or evil. That was what hearing about Bunmi’s forthcoming wedding did to Gloria. It brought about a complete change in Gloria. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a change for good. Gloria became a person Bunmi couldn’t recognize anymore, a person her family couldn’t understand, and a person that she herself was ashamed of. Gloria was sick with jealousy. This bitter jealous feeling that came over Gloria, shattered her long-standing friendship with Bunmi and led to the break-up of Bunmi’s relationship with her fiancé. Gloria did everything within her power to see that the wedding didn’t take place.
In every friendship, family, church, or organization, traces of ‘Gloria’ abound. There are people with deep-seated feelings of jealousy. Most of us if we want to be sincere with ourselves, have at one time or the other been victims or perpetrators of jealous behaviour. Sometimes the jealousy is there, but you aren’t even aware that there is a green-eyed monster residing in your heart.
How do you cope with jealousy? How do you overcome jealousy? These are important questions to ask for no matter how hard you try, at some point, people will get jobs, promotions, commendations and blessings you long for and believe you rightly deserve. As a single lady, you may have to attend one bridal shower after the other, or repeatedly occupy the role of chief bridesmaid or bridesmaid. How can you enjoy these romantic moments in your friends, relatives, or colleagues lives and not fall prey to feelings of envy and jealousy?
Confess and Guard Your Heart
Whenever you notice that you are not particularly pleased to hear about someone else’s good fortune, IMMEDIATEDLY take that feeling to God. You can say, “Lord, I really don’t feel happy hearing that ‘X’ is getting married next week. I recognize that this feeling is not from You; this feeling has no resemblance with your love. Forgive me for feeling this way, take away this feeling from my heart and replace it with your love so that I can sincerely rejoice with ‘X’ over her forthcoming wedding. Help me to be a blessing to her at this time. Help me to support and encourage her, not feel bitter, sad, or angry that she’s getting married”. Such an honest confession to God will invite Him to set a guard over your heart, lock out and keep away all thoughts and actions that are jealousy related.
Understand Jealousy’s Destructiveness
You actually can’t pray the prayer above if you don’t understand how serious and dangerous jealousy can be. Scripturally and medically, jealousy has terrible effects on our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Proverbs 14:30 says, “a heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones”. That’s what envy or jealousy does. It rots, damages, pollutes and weakens your body and spirit.
Look at what happened to Cain. His downfall started the moment he became jealous of his brother. Jealousy activates the cycle of sin. It won’t just stop at your feeling unhappy because someone has something you want, it will lead to so many other things such as your saying and scheming some really horrible things. Cain’s jealousy led to the murder of his own blood brother (Genesis 4:8). Give jealousy no room in your heart, unless of course you want to be sick in your mind, heart and body.
Learn To Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice
Romans 14:15 tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”. But jealousy makes you do the complete opposite. It makes you mourn with those who rejoice. It makes you sorrowful, moody, discouraged and depressed when someone else has a reason to rejoice. When you are not happy when good things happen to people, you keep those good things from happening to you. Rejoice with ‘X’ when you hear she’s getting married. Don’t mourn because she is the one getting married not you. See her blessing or good fortune not as a threat, but as a confirmation that your own blessing will soon come. Your reaction should be if God can do it for ‘X’, He will certainly do it for me. It shouldn’t be why did God do this for ‘X’ and not me, it should be me getting married not ‘X’! The more you sincerely rejoice with others, the more you open the door for your own blessing. For as long as you remain bitter over another person’s progress, you delay your own progress.
Different People, Different Purpose, Different Time
I’m convinced that God has a good plan for everyone and His plans differ from person to person. Just like there are different kinds of meals with different recipes and a different time frame needed to get these meals ready, so it is with God’s plan and purpose for our lives. The timing of events in our lives is determined by God’s purpose for our lives. Some people need a shorter duration for certain things, some need longer. It all depends on the ‘recipe’, it all depends on the ‘meal’ being prepared; it all depends on God’s purpose for that person’s life. For each person, God is working on something different; God is cooking a different meal. So when you hear that ‘X’ is getting married, see it as her time; the time her ‘meal’ got ready. Yours is still on ‘fire’ and very soon, your own ‘meal’ will be ready; your own wedding will come. This attitude will ward off jealous feelings.
See yourself as a piece of clay in the hands of the potter. See God as a Potter who won’t pour water into a cracked or uncompleted clay pot. See God as a Potter who will make sure the clay pot is strong and well able to carry the water before He pours it in. So enjoy the work of the potter. Give Him the time and room to work on the clay; to work on you. Allow Him mould you into a stronger, firmer and more mature clay pot, so when He pours in the water; when He connects you to your God-ordained partner, your clay pot doesn’t crack. With this understanding, go ahead to plan another bridal shower or be the bridesmaid again. Go ahead and enjoy the romantic moments in the lives of others. Your own ‘meal’ is about to be served and will definitely be served if you keep sincerely rejoicing with those who rejoice.
Tesh Njokanma is a lawyer by training whose heart is in writing. She is a prolific writer with over 15 years experience as a magazine Editor. She is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God with a prayer and teaching ministry. Tesh is married with children. She is based in Lagos, Nigeria.