An Envious Confession

An Envious Confession

I’ll admit it; I was envious. I’m not proud of it, but I couldn’t help the feeling.

The photo and story were somewhere on social media. The woman, her handsome husband, and their charming crew of children, all healthy and thriving, were traveling to an exotic place for an exotic celebration.

Once again.

The smiles. The clothes. The opulent setting. It was a life I’d dreamed of in my youth that could never be mine now.

And the thought, the one I fight hard to keep under control, burst through all the layers of well-adjusted thinking and blared, “Oh, how I wish my life would have turned out differently!”

The reminders then ganged up on me, popping through the breach: sibling loss, special needs children, divorce, and then nine days later paralysis from an inflammation of the spinal cord that affects one in 1 million. All have shaped my life in a way I could have never imagined.

But just as the green monster of envy begin to move from my head into my heart, I came across a statement that “nailed me to my pew,” as my pastor father used to say.

Envy is but a hostile form of self-pity.

Envy is but a hostile form of self-pity.

Yikes! Is that what was happening to me? Had I slipped into a pity pool?

Through my bouts of adversity, I’ve learned that wallowing in a pity pool, even when justified, can be a treacherous activity. Initially, others may feel compassionate and comfort you. But eventually, self-pity exudes bitterness.

And bitterness, I’ve learned, is not attractive.

In fact, bitterness can repel people, often when we need connection and community the most.

When I’m at my best, I try to manage my pity pool times, setting limits for how long I wallow there. If I feel the need to be honest about my life, my limitations, and the losses I’ve experienced, I’ll allow myself to dwell on those thoughts, letting the tears come to release some of the pain.

But not for long.

The antidote? Gratitude, of course. But sometimes it’s not that simple; my feelings refuse to be tamed.

Sometimes I need to examine them.

Perhaps I was feeling sorry for myself when I saw that photo. When you think about it, summer is the season for enviable tales. Dream vacations that have been planned for months, even years, are now a reality.

And the snapshots all over social media prove it.

Perhaps I just needed to toughen up and get used to it. To look at those photos through a different lens. One that filters out what hurts.

A polarized lens!

Wait, NOT the political kind that seems to divide us so these days, but the healthy one, the one that filters out glare so that we can see more clearly.

I needed to look through a lens that didn’t compare, one that filtered out self-absorption and only connected to another’s joy, sharing the excitement and perhaps even letting it fuel my own pursuit of joy and possibilities within the life I have.

Suddenly, connection rooted out comparison; possibilities rooted out pity.

I was envious no more. In fact, I was grateful for that photo, how it reminded me that our dreams can still bring joy, even if they’re not the dreams of our youth.

Like the joy of my staycation vacation.

How about you? How do you keep envy out of your heart in this season of enviable tales? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Thanks for your responses to our July 4th wishes and for the stories and pics of your pets. Tripp enjoyed them, too!

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