How To Combat Jealousy

Have you ever encountered that little green monster? I don’t mean the creatures that are supposedly lurking underneath children’s beds.—I am talking about the very real experience of jealousy. Jealousy, as defined by me, is wanting something that someone else has so badly you want the person who has said thing to lose what they have. It could be a job or promotion that you wanted, or a fancy car that someone you know has (but that you can’t afford), and anything and everything else that you could want, but don’t have.

I admit, I sometimes get jealous of certain people who got the job or promotion I wanted. A few of them, I feel, aren’t even qualified for the position! In the past, I have even gotten jealous of my brother because I had felt he had it “easier” in life than I did (Nothing could be further from the truth, by the way.), while I struggled through school and through life. However, God has shown me (and is continuing to show me) these things to help me combat jealousy and conquer the green-eyed monster once and for all!:

  1. God showed me what I call The-Grass-Is-Always-Greener-on-the-Other-Side principle: One of the things that I learned this past year is that everyone has a story! In the above examples (the job story and the story about my brother), I have learned that a.) the people getting the job that I wanted do not have a very easy task! If they do something major wrong or make too many mistakes, they may even get demoted! And I never knew the more personal issues that they may hide from the world. My brother has had to work hard too, to get where he is right now. He has had different struggles than me, but struggles all the same. What I am saying is, the people who you envy so much, may not even have the ideal lives that you had imagined! In fact, they probably have similar or even more difficult challenges to face than we ourselves do!
  2. You are placed where you need to be, with the abilities and gifts you were given: Another principle I learned is that maybe I didn’t get what the other person had because it wasn’t the right timing or right according to what “fit” me to get said thing at the time. For instance, I really wanted to work mornings as a department manager for about a year now.  However, I believe God revealed to me that He had better plans for me.  First of all, if I worked mornings even to train for said position now, I would probably be getting significantly less hours than I do now, even as a full time associate, because many of the hours are now being allotted mid-shift, when I work now.  Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to minister and help as many people as I do now.  Also, as a theoretical example, if you couldn’t afford to buy the nice car your neighbor had, and had to walk to school and/or work, it may seem like a hassle. You may really want to have your neighbor’s car and even have resentment against your neighbor because she won’t even let you near her car.  However, what if by walking to work and/or school with others in your neighborhood you are more able to develop friendships and a sense of community with your other neighbors? Nothing happens by accident. You are placed where and when you are for a reason. Strive not to waste it!
  3. Everyone is valuable, regardless of rank or position.: I believe that, in general, society is being plagued by what I call the rank-value principle. The rank-value principle, in my definition, is the belief that certain people who rank higher or who have more worldly power are more valuable than lower-ranking, or less-powerful people. However, without the “regular” or “lower-ranking” workers, the CEO at a company wouldn’t be able to run the company very effectively or , at the very least, wouldn’t be able to expand his or her business very much. Sure, CEOs of companies or even your boss or manager, may have more power than you, but that doesn’t make you of less intrinsic value than him or her. This is why, I believe, James of the Bible says in James 2, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?,” in regards to this favoritism. What he is saying, is, in essence, that when you think that one person is more valuable than another based on a worldly-ranking system such as race, class, ranking in the company, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or other distinguishers, you are becoming judgmental and devaluing others. If we let each person know that they had infinite value because of how wonderfully they were created, he or she would not so passionately yearn or even desire what belongs to another.

These are some of the ways that God has shown me to combat jealousy. Sometimes I do struggle with jealousy, as much as anyone else. However, when I focus on these above things, any jealousy that I had, fades away. What are the things that you have learned that helped you combat jealousy personally? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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My Shining Star

My Shining Stardedicated to all my friends; you know who you are…

1/24/2018

 

For all the times, good and bad

We have gone through

For all of everything you gave me

My friend you will always be

 

I never ever want to hurt you

Or make you sad

And I always strive to give you

My very best

 

When your radiating presence

Touched my soul

It awakened the light inside of me

And made me more whole

 

I will never, ever forget you

Or the impact you made on me

Only promise me

That you will shine as the star

You already are

My Journey To Joy

My journey to joy started when I was 16 years old, the year that God became a part of my life and being. This life journey has been on-going, with a lot of stumbles and falls in between. However, with the help of God and others in my life, I am able to get back up again and then continue to live joyfully each day.

Getting Out of the Pit of Darkness and Depression

Shortly before God rescued me from my sins and from my hopelessness that I felt in life, I was on my last rope.  I had a teacher that I believed was verbally abusive. He told me in no uncertain terms that I would amount to very little in life. This was a message that I internalized for many years and it almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but God is merciful.  In addition to that, I felt much pressure from everyone around me, but most of all, myself, to do well academically in school and go to the college of my dreams.  Because this aforementioned teacher failed me and I felt trapped in this class, I felt hopeless and even suicidal at times.  Also, I didn’t have the emotional support of many of my peers or even most of my teachers.

Then, one day (see: testimony link for more details), one of the few friends that I had, invited me to her bible study at school. Even though I was not religious at the time, I was searching and wanted to please my friend, so I went. I didn’t become a follower of Christ right away, but after several months, one day in my bedroom, I gave my life to Christ.  This was the beginning of slowly (emphasis on the word “slowly”) getting out of the pit of darkness and depression.

College and my first taste of joy

A couple of years later, I went to college, albeit not the one of my dreams. I remember dorm life being very difficult and trying for me. However, there I met my first friends that encouraged me when I was depressed and helped me gain footing for my faith.

After college/The first signs of my growing in faith

The first two churches I attended after college gave me a foundation to my newfound faith in Christ.  They taught me who God was and how His influence could be applied to my life.  I also found more joy in the second of the two churches I attended because I felt like it was there that I felt the most loved.  When I was upset because of the stress of life, several people at this church supported me emotionally and reminded me of what I had in Christ.  They encouraged me to persevere in life. It was also during this time that I first developed a community of friends online, who also encouraged me in my trials and who I could encourage in theirs. I developed a sense of hope and a glimpse of joy in my life. However, my joy was not yet mature and there were still way too many times when I became depressed again.

Joy Grows By Leaps and Bounds

In June of 2013, I got my first job where I felt that I could do fairly well in it. Indeed many of the managers and associates valued my work there. I still talk to a few of the people I worked with there. There, I learned how to treat customers and clients, and more in-depth about the sales/retail industry and how things worked.  I also continued to build relationships with the people at the church I attended at the time.  This is the first time I remember that I could say that I had some semblance of joy in my life.  However, God had greater opportunities in store for me. In March of 2016, God was calling me to a different job, and in October of 2016, God was calling me to bless a new congregation as well.

My Current Life and How My Joy Has Grown Even More

How I got my current job was truly a miracle and a God-thing in itself. For more details on how I got my current job, see this link.  God has blessed me more in the past three years, than in the first thirty-or-so years of my life!  Besides getting a new job, I also went to a new church.  This church has been a godsend to me for many reasons. First of all, the pastor not only preaches great sermons applicable to my daily life, but he also lives what he preaches, something rare in these days, even among professing Christians.  Sure, he is not perfect, but he is humble enough to admit this.  Also, so many people in my current church have supported me and encouraged me in my faith or when I had problems at work or elsewhere.  Also, I love how this church prays for one another and aims to provide for those congregants in need.  Also, my mentor J has helped me a lot in this season of life to debunk the negative thoughts about myself that some people in the past had communicated to me through their attitudes, words, and actions.  She, as well as others in my life, have encouraged me to become more confident in my God-given abilities and see myself as God sees me, not as someone who is better than everyone else, but also not as someone who is worthless and bad either.  My current job has also been a tremendous blessing. Yes, there have been many difficult days and situations there too, but they –and also the blessings of my job—have both served to help me know God’s love for me better and have helped me become a better person.  Finally, it seems I have been able to let go of some of my past hurts and anger towards the ones that have hurt me. God has even helped me to either reconcile with these people or not let them affect my self-worth and attitude anymore (or at least less).

The Future of Joy

In the future, I would like to solidify my joy by dying to self. Yes, the concept of denying myself seems counterintuitive to my joy, but I don’t think it will.  This is because when one is living only for oneself, they often create strife and unhappiness for others, and because of that, end up miserable instead of truly joyous.  However, for me, dying to self will actually allow me more joy because I no longer have to worry about what others think of me and my desires will no longer be of urgent importance , and so I will no longer be so upset if I don’t get what I want in life.  For instance, if I do something nice for someone that some of my friends don’t get along with because I feel God prompting me to, I will no longer worry about my friends thinking I will “betray” them by doing something good for their “enemy”. I will be able to do it willingly and with joy because what my friends think will take a back seat to serving God and others.  Also, if my manager tells me to do something necessary (i.e.. something that their boss tells them must be done also) for the smooth running of the store but that feels stressful and uncomfortable, I will no longer feel the urge to complain and/or refuse to do it because I don’t like it. I will be more willing to do said thing with a better attitude and even joy than if my aim were to do things that I want to do just because I want to do them.

This is my journey to joy. It is on-going and there will be many stops and starts along the way, but I know with God’s help, my joy will become more and more mature.

How You Changed Me (a poem)

Before I met You

I was on my last rope

I almost gave up all hope

Of ever becoming anything at all

 

But You transformed me

You made me see

Your light shining inside me

And gave me worth and hope

 

You breathed life into what was dead

With Your word I was fed

Precious nutrients to my hungry soul

Till again I was made whole

 

You have made me bloom

Into a precious rose

As you continue to grow me

Into what You made me to be

My Word of the Year

According to Christian author John Piper, joy is “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” (source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-you-define-joy ). I will use a similar, but more general definition. Joy, to me, is a good feeling in the soul that causes us to see God’s beauty in the world around us and towards Him and others.  Even three or four years ago, my struggle with depression was so great, some people failed to see much joy in me. However, these past two years I have had more joy than at any other time in my life!  Inspired by other bloggers who also have their own word, I choose joy as my Word of the Year because this word—joy—reminds me that God will give me strength and courage to choose joy in 2018 and because I feel it says to Depression’s face, “ I will beat you and overcome you! I will triumph over you and crush you!” Here are the ways that I hope to be able to continue to be joyous in my life:

Joy with God

Everyday, I will continue to list at least three things during the course of my day that I am thankful for God doing in my life today. Even such simple things like having a job remind me that there are things in which to find joy.  I will also strive to be more focused on my reading/devotion time with God by looking for all the good God has done according to what it says in the Bible. I will memorize Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” and Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I will memorize this to remind myself that God always does things for my good and His glory, and not just to be a cosmic killjoy.

Joy with family and friends

I will be more intentional about carving out times to spend with people I love. I will strive to enjoy myself with them without worrying about what I’m going to do next or my other issues in life.  I will be more intentional about finding things to appreciate about the people whom I am closest, and to be of support to them whenever they need me.

Joy at work

I love my job, but there have been times when I was so stressed that I was tempted to quit.  In 2018, I want to be able to find joy even in the more difficult times there. I want to be able to work with a more cheerful heart. I want to not only have joy for myself when I am working well, but I also want to spread joy to others. I want to be more intentional about thanking people at my job who I think do a good job. For instance, one of my co-workers recently was able to help a customer find an item, that even one of the managers couldn’t find. He even walked the customer to the item in question.

Joy during difficult times

When I am enduring trials, I often find it very difficult to have joy in them because of my aversion to suffering. However, I would love to have joy even in these times. I will strive to focus on God and how this trial won’t last forever. I will also strive to see it as an opportunity to grow as a person and to learn from myself and others during these times.

 

So, joy will be my word of the year.  As I have more joy with God and with those I love and care about, I believe that I will have more joy at my workplace, no matter the situations I find myself in. If I have joy in all these aspects of my life, I will be more able to find joy even in the tough times. May each of you find joy in 2018 also!

Why This Year Was The Best Yet

I can’t believe this year is almost over, and what a year it has been!  I am writing this, and it is about two and a half weeks from Christmas, but when you read this, it will probably be after Christmas.  I have learned so much about myself and others, both good and the things that need to be changed. Overall, this year, I have never experienced more joy and fulfillment during any other time in my life! Here is why, for me, this year has been the best yet and what I learned:

  1. I learned how to forgive and let go of the painful parts of my past.—Normally when people had hurt me deeply, I took a very long time to forgive them, mainly because I thought by holding on to my grudges I was exacting “vengeance” upon them by withholding my affection and love for them, and letting them “have a taste of their own medicine.” Then, after one of my pastors talked to me about being kind to someone who had hurt me deeply, I had an epiphany from God: I wasn’t really succeeding in changing or exacting the vengeance I wanted against the offending party or parties. I was only hurting myself and the people that loved me by holding these grudges, because I was also erecting barriers to my love for them unconsciously. I didn’t mean to, but I did anyway because the grudges that I held squeezed out all the love that I had for anyone, even the ones that didn’t do anything to offend me!  Moreover, the offending parties often weren’t even aware of how much they hurt me, or didn’t care. Then, when I let go of my grudges that I had for several people this year, I found that I was free to love not only them, but everyone else around me. I was more willing to take risks with them and others, because I knew that holding grudges and withholding affection was making me into a stingy, unforgiving, and miserable person to be around! I was also finally able to tell my mentor J about something relatively painful that happened to me in the past, and make peace with that painful event. Though I still wouldn’t trust the person that made that event painful, I forgive them and am not angry at them anymore.
  2. I became a member of my current church.—In October 2016, I felt God calling me to leave the church that I had been a part of for over ten years. I really loved the church, and I still keep in touch with and love the people that are still there. Then, I visited a couple of churches, one of them the one that I attend now.  At first, I wasn’t sure if God was calling me to stay or keep searching for other churches. However, each week, I kept going back to the church I attend now. I learned that the pastor there, Pastor David Shoaf, has served faithfully at my church for over 40 years, and that all the pastors and guest speakers that have ever spoken were very solid in the Bible and good at speaking. I especially like how Pastor Shoaf has taught the congregation to look in the mirror and thoroughly reflect upon our lives to make the necessary changes. I also love how the members of the church are willing to help those congregants in need or at least faithfully pray for them if they are unable to help.  On August 2017, I took a step of faith, and became a member of my current church.  I believe in what my church stands for, how they serve one another, and how they are striving to do their part to spread God’s love all over the world.
  3. I became closer to God as a result of His work in my life.—God has been shaping and molding me since the day I got saved. However, He has worked in and through me, especially this year. He has helped me to see things that I had never quite grasped or seen before. God has really opened my eyes to much of His wisdom. For instance, one of the reasons that I sometimes had problems with people at work, at home, and/or other places, is because of how I thought about a situation. Then, my Sunday school teacher recommended a book that really opened my eyes to my thought problems. It was called “Loving God With All Your Mind” by Elizabeth George. One of the things author Elizabeth George talked about was that love doesn’t think evil of anyone, which I was sinfully doing when I was upset at someone.  For example, when someone didn’t do something they promised me that they would, I had often thought that person was intentionally lying to me, or didn’t care about me. However, later I found out that because of some unforeseen circumstances, they couldn’t do what they had promised, even though they had every intention of carrying it out. Now, I am trying to be more intentional of not thinking badly about someone when they disappoint me or don’t act in the way that I expect.
  4. I am using my degree in college to show others God’s love for me.—I started my blog in 2015, but really wasn’t so intentional about posting regularly until either late last year, or early this year. This is also around the time when I joined a blogging group online, which has helped me not only to gain more visibility for my blog, but also to learn about other topics that I hadn’t yet explored in my life. Supporting other people’s blogs by reading, commenting, and/or following their content, has helped me learn about others and gain knowledge in more areas that I didn’t know would interest me—such as cooking and travel. I had a writing degree in college (after switching to it from a Biology degree my sophomore year of college) that lay mostly dormant for a long time, until these past two years.  This year, especially, God has helped me to use my writing abilities to show people His love and to inspire people to live a more joyful, fulfilling life, becoming all that they are meant to be. This is what I hope to accomplish these next years for this blog.

This year (2017) has been the best year yet of my life because I finally learned to forgive people that hurt me, both in my distant and recent past.  I became a member of my current church, and that helped me to become part of a community that has similar life purposes to me.  I have become closer to God as a result of His work in my life, and I am finally able to do something worthwhile with my writing abilities.  This, and I’m sure many other things as well, has made this one of the best (if not, The Best) years ever!

What Christmas Means To Me

It’s that time of year again. For many, it means snow is coming, families and other loved ones are together, gifts are being given and received, and most of all, Jesus Christ’s birth is being celebrated.  Christmas means different things to different people. While it is a joyous time of year for many, for some it holds sad, and even, painful memories. We must not forget these people.

Christmas, for me, holds many special memories. Here is what Christmas means to me and why:

  1. It means reflecting on Christ’s birth and His love for me.—Although in years past I had not taken adequate time to reflect on Christ’s birth and what He means to me, this year I want to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas for me. I enjoy learning about the importance of His birth, how He impacted the world, and how I figure into the whole scheme of things through God’s great work.  I believe in the Christmas story about how the shepherds announced Christ’s birth and how He was born to Mary in a manger, but before my former pastor, Pastor Frank Taylor, explained this story, I never really grasped the full magnitude and meaning of the story. He explained one year about how the shepherds had reputations as thieves and/or low-lifes and that many Jewish religious people despised them. He then explained to us in so many words that God chose the shepherds to be in the birth of Jesus probably as a demonstration of His love for them and all people.  This love is what I want to focus on this year.
  2. Connected to the first reason, Christmas, to me, means sharing God’s love and joy with others.—In the recent past, I found that when I was upset at others, I was not only being too self-focused, but I also was losing sight of what I believe to be my purpose in life—sharing and demonstrating God’s love with others that God has shown me. If I am able to refocus on my life purpose, I have found that I stop getting upset, or, at least, get less upset.  To do this, I want to have a more thankful heart and spirit about me by encouraging and thanking others for any good that I see that they have done for either other people or my friends. I also want to focus more on serving others with a joyful and willing spirit, and not complaining about having to do x, even if it is not the most pleasant task in the world to do.
  3. Christmas means spending time with my family and other loved ones.—I love the emphasis not only on family, but also on the community coming together to celebrate this holiday in the different ways that they do. It is a coming together of peoples of all cultures, creeds, socioeconomic and all identifiers that the world places on us, and it focuses instead on enjoying time together and bonding. Thankfully, my workplace is closed on Christmas, and so are many other places, so I can enjoy the whole day with my family and get to know them just that much better.  A special thanks to the firefighters, police officers, first responders, doctors, nurses, and military personnel and their families for sacrificing this time in order to serve everyone and keep us safe.
  4. Christmas means engaging in the spirit of giving.—Though I don’t like an overemphasis on gifts, I do like giving and receiving gifts. I like that Christmas is a time where everyone can give and get something, even if it is just a smile, a hug, or a kind word.  I like when people put thought into their giving, and not just getting anything for someone else just to check them off their list. Giving and receiving gifts are also forms of bonding with another person.  When you give something and the other person opens said gift or receives it (if it is not material), seeing the reaction (hopefully, of joy) of the other person. When we receive something from someone, we want to know what it is and what the person was thinking about us in them getting that gift for us. Christmas also is a time when people can give much-needed donations to local and international charities, not only so the charities can operate, but also so they can make more of a positive difference to the people who they are wanting to help.

These are the things that Christmas means to me. It means giving of myself, both monetarily and practically to others. It means spending time with my family and other loved ones, in joy and unity with them. Most importantly for me though, Christmas means sharing God’s love with others and reflecting on Christ’s birth and love for me.  What does Christmas mean to you? Please feel free to share in the comments.