I had dealt with my own envy of other mortals last week, and regrets over the weekend. But sometimes even after dealing with the immediate emotions of envy, one still has a yearning for one’s dreams and future to go right, and maybe a little wishful thinking, too, such as, “I wish I was as lucky as so-and-so”. These emotions may not be as strong as envy or regret, but I think they need to be dealt with nonetheless because they produce a quiet unhappiness which diminishes the joy Christians are supposed to have in the Lord.

So I found myself in a tug-of-war between my flesh and my spirit. On the one hand, my spirit knew that I should be rejoicing always, as it says in Philippians 4:4, and always giving thanks to God, praising him for the blessings I have. But on the other hand, my flesh, or carnal nature, kept bringing back to my mind all the things that I wish I had, all the things I never had, or even incidents that I had not remembered for years, where someone said or did something that was hurtful to me. Remembering the negative things of the past does indeed make it hard to rejoice in Christ.

I already knew that in order to combat envy, I could take the following practical steps, some of which were even recommended by Dr. Phil!

  1. Pray for the person you envy. Ask God to bless them even more and rejoice in their good. (Something that the preacher F.B. Meyer did when having to deal with envy of Charles Spurgeon).
  2. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. Praise God for them. Remember that there are millions of people who don’t have a fraction of what you have.
  3. Show extra gratitude and affection by telling friends and family you appreciate them.
  4. Do some charity work, or find a way to give to someone else less fortunate than yourself.

But to deal with the additional feelings of yearning, I found these helpful:

  1. Do your best to praise God, even when you don’t feel like it, and give him thanks as if whatever you had wanted to have happen already happened. This demonstrates your faith and confidence in God, that you believe he will fulfill the desires of your heart because you delight in him. (Psalm 37:4)
  2. Think of a time in your life when you were lucky, or blessed in a way that was definitely from the hand of God. This morning God reminded me of the way he provided for me when I moved to California. I came here with no job in hand, and yet when I went to see the HR person at my previous company, she had a position open for me that day! Remembering that incident made me relive the emotions that came with it. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! Everyone has had something great happen to them at least once. Think on that instead of dwelling on all the negative things that have happened.
  3. Take steps, no matter how small, toward your dreams. Start doing research, take a class or lessons, start painting, writing or whatever it is you want to learn. I have started to outline a new screenplay I have been wanting to write. A lot of people say that luck is “preparation meeting opportunity”, and a lack of faith may mean you don’t prepare as you ought, so when the opportunity comes, you can’t take it because you weren’t prepared. Ouch! I don’t want to miss any opportunities when God sends them my way!
  4. Another tip along the same line is that years ago, a professor set out to study “luck” and what made certain people lucky, like the person who won the lottery twice. What he found was that unlucky people tended to be anxiously looking for something, so they missed an unexpected opportunity that didn’t fit their expectations, whereas the “lucky” people were more relaxed and more likely to spot an unexpected opportunity.  E.g.,  they go to parties trying to find a perfect partner, and so miss opportunities to make friends. Also, the lucky people had positive expectations of life, listened to their intuition, and were resilient enough to transform bad “luck” into good “luck”. He said that “luck” was often a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hmmm… maybe the professor should have read this verse: “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” (Proverbs 11:27)
  5. Do research on the life of the person you envy. Talk to them or try to read about what their life is actually like. You’ll probably find that often it’s not as glamorous as we make it out to be. For example, singers and actors often have to perform even when they are very sick, and not only do they have to worry about their own health, but also about disappointing their fans! Also, due to the way the music industry works, many musicians may still owe their music company money even though they have made millions selling their albums. Acting is not steady work and Patrick Dempsey has said that he could not get a job for ten years straight. It got to the point where he could not go watch movies because he felt so low.

I am writing down all these thoughts so next time Satan tries to attack me in this area, I will be prepared! My sympathy goes out to anyone who struggles with envy, regrets, yearning for dreams to come true, etc. Rejoice in the Lord always!