don't wanna go green!

Yellow = cowardly. Red = angry. Blue = sad. Green = envious. Two days ago I was having a teensy little problem with envy. Actually, truth be told, it was more like jealousy. Is there really a difference, you ask? Yes, but it’s subtle. Sort of. Envy’s definitely the milder of the two. Envy says, “I want what she has.” Jealousy is more like, “I want what she has, and I want to be the one to rip it out of her grimy little hands and take it for myself!” (not the kind of sin I feel like admitting to, but here’s to honesty)

I can always tell when I’m starting to go green. I read a blog or talk to a friend–and I feel the twinge. I see God blessing certain people (often people I’m close to and normally thrilled for), and I start getting all irritated. And then pouty. And then bitter. And mad. Then I (sub-)consciously start wishing curses upon their heads.

I’m just lovely.

All day Wednesday I was fighting the green. (Work-at-home daddy + girlies home from school didn’t exactly help my mood.) It was a looooong day. After supper (and some yelling) and dishes (and some more yelling), I decided to be pro-active and climb out of my pit before I slid any farther (further?) down. See, the good thing about struggling with jealousy on a semi-regular basis is that I know by now that I DO NOT want to fall all the way into the pit. It’s a crappy place to be.

So. I turned off my computer (a.k.a., My Best Friend and Worst Enemy) and played games with the girls. It was a very long hour and fifteen minutes. I put them to bed a bit early, and all the squabbling must have worn them out, because I heard nary a peep out of them after that. I walked right by my laptop, grabbed two Bibles, a pen, and my journal, and headed up to my bed where I sat and prayed through some Psalms with David and Asaph.

I’ve learned that “actions first, feelings follow” applies to much of life. Attitude adjustments, cleaning the bathroom, energizing the marriage bed… So, even though I might not have felt like praying, I did it anyway. God, forgive me… Please turn my eyes and heart toward you… How ugly it is to be self-absorbed and me-centric… Please bless friends X, Y and Z, and bless ’em real good… Oh, God, love on the little ones hanging on to dear life right now… My “problems” are so trivial…

And then I took some concrete action. Sent some e-mails, commented on some blogs, caught up on facebook and twitter and generally just tried to leave bits and pieces of cheer here and there for various folk. Purposed in my heart to find people God was blessing and be happy for them if it killed me.

And you know what? God took over. I offered him my stinky heart, he wiped it off, and handed it back to me ALL CLEAN! I love that. And then I did some more praying–much of it face-down on the floor where I go when I’m super-burdened about something (and since I rarely vacuum our bedroom floor, I always stand back up with pieces of fuzz all over me–there’s gotta be a metaphor there). I asked God to prepare my heart for Big Mama’s give-away. See, I know me. And when I’m not fixing my eyes on Jesus, I start to find my worth in what I do, not who I am. Good day in Author Land? I feel warm and fuzzy. Down day? I feel worthless and neglected. ENOUGH OF THAT. So, I said (over and over) to God, “Lord, if nobody enters the give-away, help me be okay with that. I’m yours. That’s all that matters. And if tons of people get excited about it, PLEASE don’t let it go to my head. All I have/do/say/know is from YOU. The glory’s not mine.”

And, wow. He answered my prayer in a huge way. Lots of comments, and I just felt humbled and grateful. And while this may have been a shining moment in my writing career, it kind of got evened out by bickering kiddos, overdue bills, and some other personal junk.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I loved your comments. Some of the more personal stories moved me, and I prayed for you. You have until Sunday to win a book at my place and a book and Target gift card (!) at Mel’s. I’ve loved meeting so many wonderful new people this week. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on jealousy. Anyone else struggle with the Green-Eyed Monster? Any antidotes (or anecdotes) you’d like to share? Happy Weekend!

25 thoughts on “don't wanna go green!

  1. Jamie

    Oh, I can so relate! I often find myself in the midst of a big ole pity party. I get so hung up in finding my worth in what I do rather than who I am…and feeling like all I do lately seems pretty worthless. Thanks for the reminder – Actions first, feelings follow.

  2. Missy

    You’re not alone! I envy others over the silliest things at times. The thing that gets me out of it, is part being thankful for what God gives me, and also part keeping an eternal perspective. My problems and “feelings” seem so trite when I compare what I’m thinking to what my God views as important in terms of eternity.

    BTW, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with “fuzzy” floors. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  3. Colleen

    Hey there friend…let me just tell you again how much I appreciate your REALness! Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share the “yuck” stuff…thanks for not trying to give excuses for it or “spiritualize” it away…I’m so thankful for you!!!

  4. Deanna

    All these emotions are human nature. We all have them, some just handle them better than others. The best we can do is to ask God to help us overcome them.
    You’re not alone, I promise. Consider it a test! God likes to keep us on our toes.

  5. Cydney

    I don’t like to admit but if does get to me some times as well. I think you did the best thing to over come it. Really the only thing that can overcome such a strong emotion. Thank God for His strength and goodness.

  6. Sellers Kay

    Loved you post…I am pretty much a lurker..But I am doing Beth M. bible study “A Heart Like His” we are learning about Jealousie. You are on the right track to get rid of jealousie…keep on keeping on the study and prayer. Thank-youlord for prayer and your word that helps us sooo much. K

  7. Denise

    Green eyed monster – no. Droopy blue eyed depression monster – yes. I just feel so alone and so out of whack and Satan is really convincing me that no one likes me and that I don’t actually fit in. Somewhere deep down, I know I do and I know I am loved, but for whatever reason, I feel like I am stuck! Stuck in this stinky pit of saddness and blah! I need God. I have been praying a lot…but could use prayer from others! Bleh!

  8. Sarah Murphy

    Marla! I love the look of your new website! I am entering to win the book not because I am pregrent lol don’t get too excited but because a friend of mind has found out recently that she is expecting. Unfortunately she is not in a steady relationship and really struggling. i’m sure she would appreciate your prayers as she is preparing to be a single mommy. 🙂

  9. Becky

    I hear you about the computer being our best friend/worst enemy. I definitely feel sucked in by it at times. I also thing the “green” can happen more in blog world b/c we tend to show all the “pretty” and leave out the “not so pretty”. Satan is definitely at the realm of this especiall with women. I find that he makes us feel alone in our sin problem which further isolates us and makes us feel like the ONLY ONE who deals with …fill in the blank. Thanks for sharing. I just found your blog yesterday and this is the first post I have read. I look forward to more. I just have to find time to read blogs, take care of twin toddlers, my house, my husband! 🙂

  10. Kristin

    Hi. I could so identify with you here. All of it! Thanks for being so real. I was just struggling with similar feelings myself at the beginning of the week. Why do I so often find my worth in others and not in Christ? It is a YUCKY feeling! I loved your advice of actions first and feelings will follow.

  11. Ali

    Thank you, Marla. This is, by far, where Satan is most successful in my life. But, like you, I call on Jesus a lot. Of course, He is always faithful.
    Nonetheless, I struggle with wanting what others have constantly.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. kristen

    You know me…I have the envy bug about one very specific thing…and sometimes that envy turns into jealousy. I have been going strong for quite some time…but then last week…someone got that thing I so desire…someone who wanted it just as much as I did…and she got it. I was happy for her…I really was…but I was also very much questioning the fairness of it all. I am doing much better now…a good cry it out session with my husband on Sunday helped quite a bit. It is a still a daily choice for me…to trust and wait and hope and be happy for others…but this is fight against envy is one that I desperately want to win.
    Thanks for your thoughts my friend.

  13. Amanda

    Actions before feelings – that is a good word. The enemy has tried to do a work between Curtis and me and our best couple friends throughout the years. I grew up with the wife and he grew up with the hubby. We have a TON in common and people regularly compare us, which can be hard sometimes. The Lord taught me several years ago that if we did not want to play Satan’s game, I should pray for God to bless them beyond us. It works. By God’s grace, we are able to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, encouragers, and accountability partners instead of letting the enemy get his way through comparison and jealousy.

  14. Ashley P

    Amen to actions before feelings! I find myself having to CHOOSE to love (verb) when I feel NO love – and wouldn’t you know it, as I love (verb) and pray about what I’m feeling (or NOT feeling), God brings about love (feeling) in my heart!

    Thank You, GOD, for giving me love when I don’t have any!

  15. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Well, I for one have to tell you I think it’s absolutely CREEPY that someone I’ve known for such a short time can crawl right into my head, get a good look at my thoughts, my struggles, my state-of-mind, and then write it all up on her own blog.

    Your description of jealousy over God choosing to use and bless others whom you love and want to be thrilled for? Oh yeah. I wonder when that will stop being my default response. It is absolutely sickening to me.

    But the good news? The more it happens, the more quickly God calls me on the carpet about it and guides me to the place you spoke of – the place of Truth, the place of reality check, the place of seeking first His Kingdom first . . . and not seeking first my own glory.

    This blessed me beyond measure today. It’s comforting to know I am not alone in wrestling this out.

    I’d share more, but there’s a house waiting to be prepared for a birthday party tomorrow. I don’t really feel like cleaning . . . not one bit. But actions first . . . I think that’s going to be my new mantra.

  16. Tanya Dennis

    Great post!! I don’t have any advice. Whenever I read your blog I feel like I’m looking in a mirror, except one with greater clarity than what I feel and see in my own home. We seem to struggle with a lot of the same things and we handle them the same way! 🙂

    On a separate note, I’d like to add your site to my blogroll. I don’t like doing that without permission, so if it’s a problem, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll assume you’re okay with it. Thanks!!

  17. Megan @ Hold it UP to the Light

    It’s like you read my mind. I have been feeling ALL of those things lately, and it is such an icky feeling. I have an hour long drive this morning…alone on a boring road. I made the decision last night to spend that hour in prayer for all of the things you mentioned in this post….and you have totally held me accountable now!!!

    I am praying for you, friend, and your career adventures. I know that many will be blessed by your words just like I have been. I, for one, am dying to read it!

    Thanks for being so transparent….I am jealous of THAT!

  18. Emily Rose

    Oh my goodness! You have me crying and I’m at work – not good. Thank God for waterproof mascara!! I have been struggling with the whole jealousy thing for awhile now. I see people doing good and my husband is out of work, can’t seem to find a job, his unemployment application got messed up and I’m so behind on bills that I’m sick with worry over it. I hear my co-workers talking about shopping and getting their hair done and I sink into that deep hole you mentioned. I am fighting the ugly jealousy when I hear them sounding so carefree. I smile and chat with them and deep down inside my guts are twisting because I don’t know how the mortgage is going to get paid and there’s that lovely “Final Notice” from the electric company I got the other day. So, like you I grab my Bible and dig in. This morning I just happened to turn to Phillipians 4:6-7 and it was just what I needed. Finding your blog has been an uplifting experience for me too. Thanks for sharing and encouraging. 🙂

  19. Kelley

    It’s so comforting to hear that another woman yells for no (really really) good reason. I’m a “yeller” myself and things can get pretty screechy when I’m following my feelings and not my Savior. I don’t make enough time for the Lord, face down on my hardwoods. Maybe the uncomfortableness would humble my heart.

  20. Joanne @ The Simple Wife

    Oh Marla, I just love you to pieces!

    Your definition of jealousy made me laugh and was so right on. Gotta say, I struggle more with envy than jealousy, though it does pop up from time to time.

    And that whole feelings follow action is so right on. A lesson I know but must practice every stinkin’ day. One that is so hard to get. Because it’s so much more fun to wallow in it sometimes.

    [pause to run upstairs, heard poor Emma throwing up and had to go hold her hair out of her face and get her in the tub]

    Gotta go!


  21. Jen E

    Oooh girl! You are all woman. Aren’t we ALL so prone to being green? Thanks for being honest about what we all struggle with but are too proud to admit! 😉 Pride. That’s an ugly one too. What color is that?!

  22. Carrie

    Oh new cyber friend, it is so refreshing to hear that you yell and yell some more in between dishes, trash, laundry and picking up endless amounts of food from the floor! I often feel that if I lived by myself on some remote tropical get-a-way that I would be the “perfect” follower of Christ – so devoted and focused! But I know in the depths of my heart that God planted me here in stinky, pre-pubescent, testosteroneville to really make me holy and not “happy”. I waste so much time thinking, “if I could only be like her – so positive, so together, so devoted to Jesus” or “I just want to earn my living teaching God’s word to women – not teaching 13 year olds to say please, thank you and I am sorry for the 10,000th time!” Oh wasted time! It is when I get face down that I am cleansed – if only for a few quiet minutes before someone screams, “MOM!”
    Honestly, I am green with envy that you have a blog and can openly share your daily struggles! Don’t stop reaching out to us “non-bloggers” this ministry is changing hearts and lives! I know it! Your book is challenging me to keep my marriage bed alive even when I am not feeling “it”! 8 days now!! Oh pray for long term change/consistency!
    Another snow day with 4 boys!!

  23. Chris Hemenway

    I love your openness and honesty. Thank you for that. I know that with my sin I am always glad that the Holy Spirit convicts and God forgives – but the process is most times painful – but, aaahh, sweet rewards when we are obedient. I am almost 53 years old and still learning that.

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