Monday, February 10, 2014

Overcoming Envy

God has a way of leading me directly to the message I need to hear. The moment I need it. Even when I didn't know I was in need. This happens to me quite often and I want to start sharing. :)

Last week, Zay got up in one of our Church's monthly "testimony meetings" and expressed his feelings about people seemingly bragging about being blessed, or putting off the air that we are all racing to or in a competition to get to heaven. Rather than working together and uplifting one another. His testimonies usually turn into some kind of scolding, which I think is funny. But he always has a point and sometimes we need the chastisement.

Comparison from person to person and family to family is a great way to cultivate envy and depression. The grass almost always looks greener on the other side. And sometimes it seems like some people are saying, "I'm more blessed or more highly favored of the Lord than you, so I must be doing something better than you." "Oh, really? You have that problem? I never struggle with that. You should have more faith." "Look at how awesome my life is - you wish your life could be like mine!" Even if those words never come out of their mouth, their social media presence may do it for them.

(I am SO over Facebook, by the way. But blogging is harder to get out of my system!)

I remember the first time I recognized envy in myself. Zay and I felt it at the same time. It was when a certain family member of mine, who was not making very good choices... kept having things handed to him time and time again. And then he got his girlfriend pregnant. UGH. We both were pretty furious about that. He was terrified and didn't see it as a blessing at the time, of course. But we were angry.

Since then, I find it so much easier to compare myself and my life to others and come to the conclusion that I'm not good enough, smart enough, educated enough, pretty enough, accomplished enough. Or whatever. To get the blessings I want out of life. Why are good things happening to them (whoever they are) and not me?

I so needed to see this video. And be reminded that we're all in this together. That we are all family - children of a Heavenly Father. And that someone else's good fortune doesn't diminish my own.

Video of "The Other Prodigal Son":

My favorite quote from this talk:
"One who has heretofore presumably been very happy with his life and content with his good fortune suddenly feels very unhappy simply because another has had some good fortune as well.

"Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies." -- Jeffrey R. Holland (The Other Prodigal)
Steps to overcoming envy from this talk:
  1. start making our way back to the Father
  2. count our many blessings
  3. applaud the accomplishments of others
  4. best of all, serve others ("the finest exercise for the heart ever prescribed")
  5. and remember that God's grace is sufficient... for everyone
God wants us all to be happy and to come unto Him and be saved:
"Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden." (2 Nephi 26:28)
Quotes from another great talk by Jeffrey R. Holland (The Laborers in the Vineyard) about good fortune and envy:
"... surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it."
"... coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind."
"Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those."
So let's appreciate a little more the things that we have! Stop comparing so much. And coveting so much. Lift another and we'll both be lifted. If we all learn to really love one another, then we have figured out what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about! Love, charity, gratitude, service. Not hatred, selfishness, envy, and greed. It is a tendency in all of us to turn inward and focus on what WE want. But to recognize that and to reach out to others whenever envy sets in, we'll become a changed people.

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