For as long as I can remember I have always hated the emotion of jealousy. I hate how it makes people do things they normally wouldn't. I hate the wall it erects between two people. And I really hate the way it makes me feel when I experience it first hand.
Someone asked me about my thoughts on the subject of jealousy. I thought I would share them more widely here.
For the most part, I am not a very jealous person. I have never been jealous when it comes to my love life. Maybe because I feel pretty secure there. I mean even in my dating years when a guy I liked liked one of my friends I was fine with that. I guess I just figured that if he didn't like me, that was reason enough not to like him. And I wanted my friends to be happy. I was happy for them that a guy awesome enough to have caught my eye was into them. But even this assumes the underlying emotion that all of this stems from... charity.
If we have true charity, we do not feel jealousy. I love my friends and am happy for their successes and joys. It is much harder to combat jealousy when the person of whom we are jealous is not someone for whom we feel that charitable love. I am still working on how to rid my heart of all jealousy there. It is not always easy to hold onto true charitable love for people we feel we are competing with for a valuable and seemingly essential prize.
In these cases, I think the key to getting rid of the jealousy and feeling the love is stepping out of the competition. In the case where the prize is the attention or affection of a person, parental or otherwise, we either need to feel secure enough in the love of that person to not feel a need to compete or we need to not care or need that attention or affection.
Things get super difficult here when we are rightfully insecure in the affection that should have (spousal, parental, familial.) In such cases, our souls are wounded and thus more prone to jealousy. It seems to me the only real remedy for jealousy here (and for the wounds that allow it to fester) is a miracle wrought by the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I am still working out in my mind and heart how this all works. But I believe that there is power in the atonement to heal all of our wounds. I know I have felt its healing effects over the last two years. I also believe He can fill us up so much with the love of the Savior as to compensate for any love lost or never offered by any other human being.
Last night Ann Marie was a bit miffed at bed time. She began a very dramatic speech about how all her friends get to play all day and she just has to work and clean all day and how sad her life is. (Note this was just after the two of us got home from our neighbors where she had played with their kids for at least an hour.) She said she was jealous of her friends.
So I started listing her "privileges" to her. Someone once said that if life was fair we would all live in a grass hut in China. I pointed out one by one all the blessings she is privy to for a good 5 minutes. By the time I finished, I think she felt a little less jealous of her friends and a little more grateful for her life. (Though she was pretty sure I was wrong about how one day she would be grateful she learned to work from an early age.)
If you are still reading, thanks for putting up with my stream of consciousness style on this subject. To sum up: if we want to get rid of jealousy in our lives we need to turn to the Lord. We need to seek to feel charity for those of whom we are jealous. We need to ask to be filled with the love of the Savior to overcome and obliterate our insecurities. And we need to focus on all the blessings we have been given in their own light and not in comparison to others.
Now I think I better start following that recipe for the one or two people I of whom I often feel jealous. Anyone out there got any other suggestions on overcoming jealousy? What has worked for you?