Why I’m a Jesus girl, reason #987: my problem with jealousy. I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times my husband and I have had multi-day argument because I felt threatened. In college, I got into a knock-down, drag out, hair-pulling, nail-scratching brawl over Chris’ former girlfriend.
Classy, aren’t I?
I wish I could say now that I’m in my forties and have been married for almost twenty-five years that my jealousy issues are behind me. I wish I could say I am self-assured, trusting and secure enough that I don’t burn with anger when I feel threatened by someone nicer looking, smarter and/or ironically, more confident, but as I recently was reminded, I’m not.
An attractive woman I don’t know approached my husband at a party recently and put her arm around him. Giggling, with her arm (that I wanted to break) still around him, she continued talking to him while completely ignoring both myself and her husband. Although my initial thoughts toward said woman were less than Christ-like (i.e. desire to break her arm), my secondary reaction surprised me (and Chris). I didn’t respond with my normal seething hatred to all parties involved. Yes, deep down I wanted to utilize the gift of strength and agility I developed being the only girl growing up between two brothers, but I instead prayed. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me and slowly my inner rage began to fade.
I have tried for decades to quit being jealous. I’ve triedpraying and asking God countless times to help me respond out of love. I’ve even tried memorizing Scripture about jealousy. I’ve tried to be godlier in many aspects of life and failed many times, so why did my prayer “work” this time (and not work other times)?
Because I’m done trying.
John Ortberg, in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted talks about the difference between training and trying. Training involves practicing and persevering. It’s about falling-down, getting back up and training some more. Training assumes falling and failing will be part of the journey en route to the finish line. Trying on the other hand, infers the inevitability of quitting. Trying makes perfection the goal. I have tried after all, to quit being jealous, but when I have more jealous thoughts and feelings, I have admitted defeat, gotten mad at God for not helping me and resolved I am unfixable.
Training to be a more patient mom, a less jealous wife and a more loving human being helps me not only persevere in disciplines like prayer and reading my Bible, it also helps me focus on progress instead of perfection. Training sets me up to succeed incrementally instead of beating myself up and giving up when I fail inevitably. Although I obviously still struggle with jealous (and violent) thoughts, I am progressing. By realizing the Christian disciplines help me train rather than try, I am praying more often, reacting more rationally and continuing to look and love a tiny bit more like Jesus.