Bitter Jealousy

Today I must confess something. 

I have found myself, for the longest time, bitterly jealous of “cradle Christians”; people who grew up in Christian families, Christian homes, going to church, learning about scripture and Jesus, and having a beautiful, almost naive faith that seems unencumbered by things that so easily weigh me down. I scoffed at many of my bible college peers simply because I would give up my whole life to have what they seemed to take for granted: whole families, Christian parents, solid spiritual support networks, a church to call home, and a deeply rooted faith. I hated them.

If that’s you reading this, I’m sorry.

And then I get jealous; oh, do I get jealous. Not that I would ever wish calamity on someone like that… If anything, I wish they could see their situation through my eyes; perhaps they might appreciate it more. But I get so jealous of them, because things that seem to come easy to them just don’t come easily to me. Some things which they have had ingrained into their minds since an early age I am just recently coming to grips with and am trying so hard to put into practice. I feel like an acorn sitting on the ground next to an oak tree, feeling so small and intimidated, trying to find a place to grow roots without disturbing the space that they have clearly been occupying so long before I came around.

Maybe some seeds aren’t meant to grow.

As an “outsider welcomed in,” I find it incredibly difficult to fit in to the bible college social atmosphere even after 3 1/2 years. I feel like an awkward bud in a field of flowers. Instead of embracing the process, I became jealous. I grew cold. I envied every person around me for one reason or another. Perhaps I wished I could have their kindness, or their social charisma, or their musical ability, or their money, or their seemingly naive willingness to submit to authority. But the people I am most frequently jealous of are those who seem to be deeply and immovably rooted in the faith. I often find myself wanting more than anything to be able to say something that I will never be able to say: “I am so grateful that I grew up with an example of faith and love.” Maybe I’m just too scarred to stand among models.

But I failed to address my own disorder. Instead of watering my own lawn, I grew increasingly jealous of my neighbor’s grass. Instead of accepting that my brokenness would require a long and careful process of God putting me back together, I chose instead to sit in pieces, staring at others who were whole and wishing I could be like them. Sure, part of it is depression, but that’s no excuse. If creator-of-the-universe God could do all the amazing things shown in scripture, then my own depression stands no chance. But the biggest problem is that I want to be like everyone else around me. My own talents and abilities never seem to be enough.

I wonder how many of those people I find myself jealous of find themselves jealous of me. It sickens me how much calamity is glamorized. Those who should be bursting with joy and gratitude for the examples of faith they grew up with often find themselves full of discontent, wishing they could have the cavalier story of one who grew up in a context like what I grew up in. And yet I, who should be grateful for how much darkness God overcame to find me, and should be exulting in His glory, and bursting with joy and gratitude and singing praises about how great and powerful He is to save a wretch like me, find myself instead discontented, wishing I never had to go through the things I did, and am still going through.

Maybe I need to just be still and let God do His God thing.

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