Putting an End to Envy
By Lori Stanley Roeleveld
I was attending my second writers conference, flying cross-country and eager to pitch my novel. This conference had a prestigious novel-writing contest but, alas, my manuscript had not made the finals. It was sobering, but it helped me see what I had to learn. I planned to attend every workshop there that would help me improve my craft.
On the plane, I had to admit to God I was worried that one particular struggle might distract me, ruining my conference. Envy. Besides the validation of taking first place, the winner would walk away with a big check and a book contract. I already knew it wouldn’t be me, so I asked God to help me not envy whoever did win. I knew without His help, I’d fall prey.
Immediately off the plane, I met a young woman with whom I had an instant connection. By the time our shuttle neared the conference, we were friends. That’s when someone in our minivan recognized her as a finalist. God was already at work. We ran into each other everywhere and each time, I liked her more. By the time she was, indeed, announced as the winner, all I felt for her was joy. I could truly applaud her win.
What God had shown me is that the more we love someone, the easier it is to rejoice with them and not envy. Through the years, when I’ve encountered writers whose work is just breathtaking or who achieve an enviable goal, I have learned to pray for them. I ask God to give me His heart for this writer and to fill me with His love. Sometimes, it takes a lot of prayer because my heart can be stubborn, but God always changes me.
The writing-with-God life is hard enough without envy but when we allow it to take root, writing can become impossible. I’ve seen promising writers give up due to discouragement brought on by comparison and envy. I’ve been the recipient of envy and can tell you that it hurts. I suppose some take it as a compliment but for me, it just feels like pain and loss of intimacy. Christian writers can share a unique camaraderie and cheer one another on because we’re ultimately on the same team, but envy creates division, drains energy, and lessens our effectiveness.
Develop a strategy for managing envy:
- Pray for the other writer daily and ask God to give you His love for him or her. Find ways to promote that author’s work.
- Imagine that when you indulge envy toward that writer you send small poison darts causing him or her actual discomfort or pain. Remember that just as you would never do something like that physically, you shouldn’t harbor poisonous feelings that may also cause them emotional, spiritual, or mental harm.
- There are movies whose theme is envy, several that focus specifically on creative or professional envy. Even in secular films, the person absorbed with envy is the one who doesn’t fare well in the end. Choose one clip you can watch whenever the temptation arises. I usually watch a scene from a flick that depicts Antonio Salieri and his envy of Mozart. In the film, Salieri’s love of God and love of music were both negatively impacted by his envy. Watching this brings me right back to a positive headspace where I can reject envy as bad for everyone, including me.
Envy is a creativity snag, an energy drain, and a sin we can avoid in Christ. When temptation arises, hit your knees, and take the escape God provides.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a professional coach, writer, speaker, and disturber of hobbits. She’s authored five award-winning books, with a sixth, Graceful Influence, due to release from Our Daily Bread publishing and contributed to twelve+ compilations. She is owner of Take Heart! Coaching and Freelance. Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.