Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15 NIV).
Friend to Friend
During my divorce, I withdrew from a few of my longtime friends. These precious women had stood by my side throughout years of difficulty and pain. They were my people. Yet, I pulled away.
In that painful season, the “green-eyed monster” of envy was eating me alive. I wept and admitted to my counselor that I was envious that my friends were still married to their husbands while mine walked away. It hurt to watch them enjoy the empty nest season with their spouses while I was starting a new season of life alone.
During that tough time, envy seeped into other areas, too. On social media, I dreaded seeing pictures of couples celebrating anniversaries or vacations. I struggled through weekend church services because I hated seeing couples leaning on each other during worship or holding hands during the sermon. I’d silently cry, God, why not me?
I loved Jesus, but oh boy, I had a nasty case of envy.
We can point our finger at social media, but envy is an insidious spiritual struggle that we can’t blame on anyone else. Envy is sneaky because it has two layers. There’s an outer layer where we can see what we want to have and what we don’t have. But there’s also an inner layer of belief where the green-eyed monster pops out. It’s the place where we’re angry or blame God for what He hasn’t given to us.
Holding onto envy hurts us both spiritually and physically. Listen to the description of envy’s danger in Proverbs 14:30 NIV: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Envy breeds sadness and anger and those emotions are draining on your spirit and body.
Jesus came to earth to show us what God was like. One of those character qualities is empathy. Jesus also experienced everything that we struggle with, even though he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). So, Jesus understands our envious moments. He also showed us what it looks like to model Today’s Truth to everyone that he encountered.
The opposite of envy is empathy. Today’s Truth is a reminder to show godly empathy toward others regardless of our circumstances. When we live empathetically toward others, we’re living like Jesus.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it! Envy puts up a blind spot so that you can’t see what’s really happening around you. However, as you provide celebration or support for others, your eyes remain open to the reality that everyone experiences ups and downs in life. As a bonus, when you show empathy over envy, you’re blessed as well. Godly empathy protects your heart from envy’s physical, spiritual and emotional damage because as you see the evidence of God working in others’ lives, you’ll experience a peaceful reassurance that God is taking care of you, too.
For me, letting go of envy also meant opening my eyes to what God has already given me instead of obsessing about what others have.
Look at your own life and notice everything that God has already provided for you up to this moment. Breathing? Check. Clothes? Check. Not starving? Check. Ability to pray? Check. Whether you’re at home or work, look around at what God has already given you. God promised to provide everything you need (Philippians 4:19), so the more that you take time to notice, the more you’ll recognize God’s generosity toward you.
At first, this will be a challenge, but soon you’ll discover that empathy builds a bridge to peace in your life. During and since my divorce, I decided to acknowledge every wedding anniversary in my social media newsfeed. It was hard at first, but as I remember everything that God had already given to me, I chose to pay His generosity to me forward by celebrating others. As I celebrate, I experience the life-giving sense of peace because the God who blessed them is still blessing me, too.
God, it’s really hard when I see others enjoying what I don’t have. Yet, I choose to be intentional about remembering everything that You’ve given to me. I will rejoice with those who have what I don’t have because You’ve lavishly given me way more than I deserve.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Now It’s Your Turn
When and where does envy show up in your life?
How can you celebrate with others who are experiencing what you may not have?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s recent devotional book, Surrendered: 40 Days to Help You Let Go and Live Like Jesus. This 40-day devotional invites you to let go of trying to control others or outcomes and learn how to live like Jesus. Learn how to trust God’s power, presence, promises, and provision for your life so that you experience God’s peace no matter what’s happening in your life.
(As an Amazon Associate, Girlfriends in God earns A SMALL COMMISSION from qualifying purchases using this paid link.)
©2022 by Barb Roose. All rights reserved.
Wow! Tuesday’s devotion was “Just Show Up.” This morning, Barb, after reflecting on your words and experiences, I feel hit by a God sized 2×4! I’ve been listening and watching those around me as I go through my divorce. There’s days where I feel anxious, wishing I was living the “happily ever after” that I thought marriage was. It’s just taken me 22 years of marriage to figure out that my “happily ever after” is going to be different. I am inspired through you and God to be more aware of others in my life who have what I won’t and to celebrate with them. Thank you God, for speaking through Barb, to help knock me into action! Amen!
Praise God for how He provided what you needed today! Rebecca, I’m so very sorry for what you are going through. I pray that the encouragement and aha moment that has popped up today will continue to bless you and remind you that God is with you and taking care of you.
Barb’s words are so true. God’s generosity covers what the world has taken away. My divorce has been final for 8 years and this devotion still made me cry. In the last 2 years God has given me a new love and we are slowly building a life together. I have healed enough to not envy what others have but there is still a pain of loss. I know God has given me many wonderful experiences I would not have had if I had still been joined to my ex-husband. I still ask God where we go from here. I am so appreciative that Girlfriends in God addresses the brokenness and healing of all God’s daughters. Too many devotionals seem to be only for those who may have struggled in the past but the big stuff is behind them now. G in G continues to reach me where I am.
Thank you for stopping by GiG and sharing your wisdom, faith and experience with us, Kristen. Like you, I love that Girlfriends in God shares about real life, real honesty and most of all, the incredible reality of a faithful and loving God. We love having you as part of our community!
Thank you. Barb. Eleven years post-divorce and I certainly identify with your experience. I still struggle with envy when I hear my friends making vacation plans or when I’m the 3rd, 5th or 7th wheel when we’re all together. As you’ve suggested, I have had great success counteracting those feelings with gratitude for all God’s given me. I know that in God’s own time, He will place that special person in my life. In the meantime, empathy and prayer is the key!
Hi Kathy! Thank you for stopping by GiG today and sharing your experience and hope. You’ve shared beautifully how time doesn’t always make the struggle easier, but continuing to trust God will help us make it through each day.
Thanks for this devotion. I have been married for almost 21 years and in the process of going through a divorce. I needed to hear this. This is a time where I need to lean on others instead blocking them out of my life. I am in the numb stage right now. I am taking each day as it comes. Thanks!
Tonia, I’m so glad that God used today’s devotional to speak right into where you are at right now. My heart breaks for you, yet I trust and know that God is faithful and He will walk through this devastating season with you one day at a time.
Good morning. My church is disassociating from a Methodist church. We are in search of a pastor to work with us as we are a Bible believing church and we want a leader that is a Christian and teaches from the Bible. We have a parsonage that is furnished and neat with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths in a small GA community. We have a Christian School available as well as public schools. How would I go about finding someone to interview as I am the leader at the church on this committee. Thank you. Hilda Allen
Good morning Hilda, thank you for stopping by Girlfriends in God today. It sounds like your church is in the midst of a significant transition. While I don’t have the in-depth advice that you need, here is a link to a well-known and well-established church staffing company that may help you take a next step in your search: https://www.vanderbloemen.com/ All the best to you, Barb
Once again, your am devotional hits me as a”light bulb” moment.
I have wondered why I feel unsettled when I see couples at church supporting each other, worshiping, when I sit alone and my great guy husband is home. Every week, at my Bible study, my prayer request is for him.
I guess I need to pray for God to heal me from envy of the image of the perfect Christian couple. I know better. Noting in this life is really perfect until we see Jesus’ face. He has placed this good man in my life, for a reason; and I’m supposed to be the example of Jesus for him.
God continues to show me things in my heart that need mending.
Thanks for a good “spiritual cry” this morning.
Oh Carol, if I could reach through my computer screen to give you a big hug this more, I absolutely would! While my devotion was about my divorce, there are so many situations where envy pops up and you’ve share your story – and soooo many women can relate to what you’ve shared. Thank you. I know that your comment has helped other women feel “seen” today by your honesty and faith. Blessings, Barb
Tremenda enseñanza, quiero sacar de mi corazón (envidia)cuando veo que las hermanas en fé confían en sus esposos y yo no.