Unbegrudged Blessings: How to Live in the Age of Envy Without Succumbing to Envy
Today, I’m going to talk to you about Healthy Sisterhood, and I encourage you to take notes because there are some powerful principles available to us in this lesson! And my thesis is this: Envy is the poison pill that kills your divine destiny.
I’m going to say that again because I want you to get it. Envy is the poison pill that kills your divine destiny. And one more time for the subconscious mind, because again, if we get this, listen, we can take it to the next level. Envy is the poison pill that Kills your divine destiny.
Now, my guiding scripture comes from Luke chapter 1, and the story we’re looking at is when Elizabeth and Mary meet together, Just a Sister Away. And the part that I want to focus on is verses 41 through 45. And this is what it says, When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.
This is a powerful, powerful set of verses! So I want to start here: We live in the age of envy.
We have career envy, we have kitchen envy, we have children envy, we have food envy, we have upper-arm envy, holiday envy, Church envy… you name it, and there is an envy for it!
Envy develops when an individual compares himself or herself to another, and finds himself or herself to be inferior. You see, the basis for envy is wanting what another person has and thinking that you can’t have it.
And with the advent of social media, envy is being taken to an extreme now! You don’t just have your neighbor to compare yourself with. You don’t just have your coworker or another family member to compare yourself with. You literally have everybody in the world, anywhere on the planet to compare yourself with. See, before it was folks that were in your circle, but now it is anyone, anywhere.
We all suffer to varying degrees from what I call “comparisonitis.” We all carry our phones, which I like to call an “envy amplification device.”
We carry these envy amplification devices in our pockets. We sleep with them next to our pillows. It tempts us 24 hours a day — from the moment that we wake up, and sometimes even in the middle of the night! And so the story of Elizabeth and Mary gives us a framework for understanding how to successfully manage envy.
As the author points out, Elizabeth became pregnant long after the age when women were “supposed” to be pregnant. Elizabeth’s going to be playing a young woman’s game in an old woman’s body. This story for me, was so personal! Looking at it through Elizabeth’s eyes, I felt so much compassion for her because I, too, found myself becoming a parent past the age when women are “supposed” to be a parent. So I understood at a visceral level what it is to play a quote unquote young woman’s game in an older woman’s body. I know what it’s like to have a child running around like Sonic the Hedgehog, and you really want to keep up with them, but also, what you really want is a nap!
Come on, somebody knows what I’m talking about! Some grandmother out there at least knows what I’m talking about! And don’t even get me started on the drop-off for school. Right?! …and putting together parties!
I remember going to a party for Jordan’s classmate, and his classmate’s mom was the age that you would normally be if you had an eight-year-old. And so I’m sitting there — talking to this woman who I know I’m older than — and I’m talking to her, and I find out that I’m TWO YEARS OLDER than her mom! Hello, somebody?! Come on! …So I understood Elizabeth’s plight from a very deep level.
So anyways, Elizabeth had to learn to adjust to having what she had wanted, but not getting in the season that she desired. Right? She wanted to be a mom. She wanted to have that experience where you’re nurturing a life that’s coming into the world. She desired that deeply.
She has to learn to first let go of the dream, and accept that maybe the dream might not happen. And then when the dream does come about, well, how does this work? I will tell you. You see, I am Elizabeth. I will tell you!
She was probably conscious of that gray hair. She’s going to drop the kids off at the synagogue or Jewish school, and she’s noticing that she moves a little bit slower — just a little bit differently — than the other moms in the drop-off.
When I think about my friends who had kids at the “normal” time, the world was different then, meaning it was a world that you could navigate. This world now is just unbelievable. The access that kids have, and the things that they get exposed to at such a young age, things that, honestly, my friends who had kids when we were in our 20s and our 30s, really, honestly, didn’t have to deal with. But now, using videos is just ubiquitous.
And I worried, am I raising him right by keeping him off of those devices? Because everybody else is on the devices (meaning in his generation). And before — say, a couple of decades earlier — it may have been easier to “kill the devices” and they still would have been able to navigate. But now the world is such that kids are growing up with VR and all kinds of stuff! I know Elizabeth story, y’all!
Elizabeth has to play a young woman’s game in an older woman’s body, and so she has to learn to accept this blessing that she thought she would never get. But then, life brings her face to face with who she wanted to be, which is a young mother having a child, and it’s in the form of her cousin. And so, she has to bear witness to someone else enjoying what she wanted to enjoy, but was not granted.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had anything like that happen to you. Maybe it doesn’t relate to motherhood. Maybe there was a dream that you desired and the dream didn’t manifest, but you were close enough to someone else and you had to watch someone else enjoy the dream that you thought would be yours.
Pregnancy, the author says, is a time of contradictory emotions, expectations and apprehension, happiness and depression, confidence and nagging insecurities. They go on to say that, Elizabeth’s humanity would’ve told her that she had every right to be jealous. She had the opportunity to quash Mary’s confidence, to invalidate her blessedness with the younger woman on her knees, distraught and looking up at her. Elizabeth had the opportunity to influence Mary’s image of herself.
Yet, the older woman did not begrudge her kinswoman the blessing that was Mary’s alone. And so, I submit to you that what Elizabeth gives us is a model for how to handle envy. She gives us a model.
There are three points that I want to give you, and then I’ll let you go. Point number one: envy is ignorance. Point number two: everyone envies. And point number three: gratitude redeems envy.
Envy is Ignorance
Alright, let’s get to it! Point number one, envy is ignorance… Seriously, it’s not a route to greatness!
Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is his quote, and this is where that point comes from. He says, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance, that imitation is suicide, that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion, that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to toil.”
In other words, at some point you’re going to come to the realization that “I’m going to take myself as I am, for better off or worse, and make it work right where I am. If I’m a flower, I’ve got to bloom where I’m planted.”
So what is envy? Envy is this complex cluster of feelings that stems from a very basic desire. You want what you believe someone else has.
And I don’t know who Harold Coffin is, but I read this quote and I thought it was powerful. He says, “Envy is the art of counting other people’s blessings instead of your own.” Because here’s the Truth: We cannot, in reality, ever, desire that which belongs to another. Now, I know we know that intellectually, but the truth… right? Because that doesn’t stop the feelings of envy in one of us. Right?
I know you know that we cannot ever envy that which belongs to another. Right? We cannot ever desire that which belongs to another. That what we want is that, which, is essentially our own. We may view the outer form of someone else’s good thinking that it’s going to satisfy our need, but in reality, our real desire is really for the idea that the form represents.
I don’t want the baby or the young woman’s experience. I want the idea that stands back of that. Are you hearing me right? I don’t want someone else’s good. I want that idea underneath the form, right?
It may not even be what it represents for that person, but to my eyes — to my understanding, to my consciousness — that form symbolizes the representation of a good idea. What I want is that idea manifested in my life.
Which brings us to point number two: Everyone envies.
You are not alone! Everyone envies. Don’t let these anybody fool you, okay? I’m not going to call no names, but everyone is in this together! There is no age group or social class that is immune from envy.
Now, I do want to make a distinction here because we tend to use the words envy and jealousy interchangeably. They’re related, but they’re not synonymous.
Jealousy occurs when something that we already have, or that we already possess — usually a special relationship — is threatened by a third person, right? So jealousy needs three people. But envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute that is being enjoyed by someone else — could be someone we know, could be someone we don’t know.
And so envy is this two-person situation, where jealousy is a three-person situation. Envy is a response to a seeming lack, but it needs comparison. You have to compare someone else as having it and you as not having it. Without that other person, there’s something to be envious of, that you might be present to lack, but there’s not a comparison piece to it.
What I want you to get about envy is that it happens quietly within our own hearts. It erupts from the parts of our consciousness that do not yet understand ourselves as spiritual beings with our own inheritance from our loving Father, Mother, God. It’s happening in the places in our hearts where the truth has not yet traveled.
One of the best parts I remember from seminary was when they started talking about the journeys of Paul, and there was this idea of Truth… traveling from island to island to island, launching centers of consciousness, church centers right where the Truth could be nurtured, and could flourish.
Truth has to travel. And there are parts of our consciousness where the truth may not yet have reached. Maybe we got to the island of Padmos, but we didn’t make it to the island of Rhodes. See, we marvel at the Elizabeth’s of the world who can witness someone else having and enjoying what we desire and yet, genuinely celebrate them. But that kind of spiritual mastery doesn’t just happen. It happens when the spiritual work is done on our own hearts.
The desire for something that belongs to another is the fear that there’s really not enough to fulfill your needs. That’s really what it’s coming down to. I envy because you got it, and I don’t believe that I can have it.
We’ve got to get to the place where we realize that joy is not a finite resource. We have to remind ourselves! And when that feeling of envy comes creeping up in our consciousness, we have to remind ourselves that there is enough.
There is enough! We live in an abundant universe. Whatever we see, it is available to us. And the only price we have to pay is the work to cultivate it in our own hearts. Do the work!
This is what Filmore says. He says, “The idea is the nucleus of the desire,” right? So if the desire is for love, then that idea is the nucleus. And when we conform to the law of mind action… Let’s take a pause here.
The law of mind action says: thoughts held in mind reproduce after their kind. If I hold in mind the thoughts of love and everything related to love — charity and compassion and grace — if I hold those thoughts in mind, they’re going to produce after their own time. And there’s a season where I’m holding it in mind, but it has not yet appeared in the body. And so I have to hold the idea long enough — steady in front of my mind long enough — for the idea to put some skin on it. We want to make daily conscious contact with the idea back of our desire. We want to learn its nature. We want to appreciate its value.
One of the ways that you can work with an idea is through journaling. Just an idea. You don’t have to do it. But, I double-dog dare you to try it! What if you took the idea of something that you desired. And every day you made an appointment with God through your Journal, and you journaled about the idea, and you said, “You know what? I’m going to do it for 30 days! That’s all I’m going to do. 30 days.” Where do you think you might be in 30 days? Do the work! Elizabeth’s poise that she has didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was developed.
Gratitude Redeems Envy
So this brings me to my final point, which is that gratitude redeems envy. See, you don’t have to suffer because God has given you a remedy for envy.
Envy causes us to play small in life. I feel like if we could see what we were closing ourselves off for, we wouldn’t do half of the petty stuff that we do when we’re envious. But what we can’t see when we allow envy to fester — when we don’t address it, when the feelings come up, and then we feel shame for feeling it, or we just allow it to fester, and, like, the green-eyed monster pops out — is that, it blinds us to our good.
There are literal doors of opportunities that are closed, that we don’t even know are there because envy clouds our spiritual vision. Envy causes us to miss our good. And this is the thing: Envy is a vibration. It vibrates at a frequency that makes us a repellent to our good.
See, I don’t know about you, but I want to be a vibratory match for the good stuff I got in my imagination, right? Because the imagination is the preview of life’s coming attraction. So God has already given me a preview of what’s to come. And envy makes me a repellent to the good stuff that I see in my mind’s eye. It demagnetizes us to our good, to our birthright. When we allow envy to fester unchecked, we make ourselves unfit for the good that we might otherwise have. So we have to learn to put away those envy amplification devices!
To begrudge is to envy or to resent. And I want to give you two verses that I think are powerful that will give us a little bit more into Elizabeth’s mindset. So, Luke 1: 6 says (speaking of Elizabeth and Zechariah), Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all of the commands and decrees blamelessly.
And then, in verse 25, before Mary shows up and Elizabeth is responding to learning that she’s pregnant. Elizabeth says, The Lord has done this for me.” She said, in these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people. I want you to get that. Before she knew about Mary, Elizabeth had already done the work. She was walking in a state of gratitude. And so, we too, must do the work in our own hearts beforehand.
Because see, in the moment, we’re really just doing the best we can with what we have under pressure. When you’ve got the pressure of being in the space of someone who’s enjoying a blessing that you want for yourself, we tend to not rise to the level of our spiritual aspirations. We tend to fall to the level of our spiritual development.
And so, Elizabeth had done the work to process the feelings of disgrace that she felt for not having children at a younger age. And she in her own words, the Lord has done this for me. In other words, everything is happening for me. Not to me. Elizabeth understood that gratitude is God’s love language. To say that Elizabeth and her husband were righteous in the sight of God, is to say that they walked in gratitude for what God had given them.
How do we know that the Lord has done this for me? Not to me? Gratitude! Gratitude redeems envy. Gratitude makes us a vibratory match for the stuff that’s in our imagination. All that good stuff you’ve seen in your imagination — the cars, the trains, the relationships, the trips, the meditative retreats. Gratitude makes you a vibratory match for it.
And so I want to encourage you to cultivate gratitude. Make a game out of being grateful!
Start Cultivating Gratitude
Alright, let’s review. Envy is the poison pill that kills your divine destiny. You want to make yourself a match for your good by doing the spiritual work to eradicate envy from your consciousness.
Point number 1: Envy is ignorance. Envy says, that’s not enough! Envy says, the resources of the universe are finite. Envy does not allow you to recognize the all-ness of God.
Point number two: Everyone envies! Don’t to let seasoned “New Thoughts” fool you — you are not alone! …But I know it can feel that way because envy happens on the inside. Nobody can see you envy, and only you can feel yourself when you’re in a state of envy.
And point number three: Gratitude redeems envy! Don’t continue to suffer in silence. Develop a daily gratitude practice. Start speaking God’s love language. Make yourself a vibratory match for your good.
God bless you.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, hold that clapping button down👏 . It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.
*This article was revised from a sermon Sherri gave on May 1, 2022 at the Universal Truth Center.