Today we have taken a question from one of our Facebook followers: “Two of my friends have been hanging out with each other without me there – I don’t know why, but it is really bugging me – help?” Thanks for the question! This is a question about diffusing jealous or envious feelings in our lives. It really has an easy answer, though not an easy one to hear, I will warn you. I will offer up an answer after I have explained a little bit.
Jealousy is such an interesting concept. I have a really hard time defining it, since it has to be defined in such a way that it is morally virtuous for God to be “jealous” (eg. Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24, Zechariah 8:2) With this in mind, Jealousy is probably something along the lines of “desiring to get what is due us.” In 2 Cor. 11:2, Paul claims to have a jealous-like feeling that is the same kind of feeling God has, too. Naturally, it is truly God who is due every kind of worship, praise, admiration, tribute, sacrifice, etc… so it works out for Him to be jealous. He is right to desire to be given the position that is rightfully His – the first priority. Now, what about us?
What are we due? Really… nothing. We are the creation who have earned nothing of our own accord. Our works just don’t add up to much that on our own. However, in certain relationships, we somehow feel justified in thinking we are “due” something… or “owed” something. We want to have something that makes us somehow special in that it gives us an advantage over another. I am jealous of something because I think I should get it. That makes some kind of sense if you are thinking about “I am jealous of attention my wife might give to another man” if it somehow is something that would only be appropriate for me. I often reference the intimacy of God “wiping away our tears…” and use it as an example of this. If I saw another mere man (not God, or someone else with that freedom, like her dad, son, or maybe brother) wipe away my wife’s tear, I would feel jealous… that kind of intimacy is really not for someone else. Might there be some things that a teacher, parent, mentor, etc., might feel a certain kind of jealousy about? Maybe, by that definition and understanding.
However, that is not usually what we mean when we feel jealousy… we usually mean that we feel somehow possessive or maybe that we want what they are getting for ourselves… at the root of this kind of jealousy and envy (which seems very similar to jealousy in that it is “to want something someone else has”) for people, is probably a lack of love or perfectionism.
The problem is that you don’t love your friends, or at least not very much. I told you it wouldn’t be fun to hear. Here is why I say this:
We think that someone who is our friend should not spend time with another friend – because we either think “I want that time and relationship for myself.” (envy) or “That person owes me more time or loyalty than they are giving me! (jealousy) rather than thinking “I love this person, so I want them to have everything best even more than I want it for myself!” This would be love. See the difference?
This is a key part of this:
The problem with your thinking is that you think love and friendship are limited commodities. Imagine: you dump out a bag of M&M’s on the table in front of a bunch of 1st graders. There are only so many M&M’s there! In the mad scramble, every M&M you get is one I cannot have! They are a limited resource. There are many commodities that are limited – but all of the most valuable things aren’t. You seem to think that any friendship that your friends give to one another represents friendship that now you cannot have! This is a lie from Hell I run into on a regular basis – way too often! I pray that God will teach us that love, trust, friendship, hope, faith, forgiveness, and the list goes on, are NOT limited resources. When my one of my children overheard me saying “I love you” to their mother, they said “Hey, you don’t love her, remember you love me!” (this actually happened) This is kind of cute in a 2 year old; it is only sad in us grownups, especially when they are married to one another – which I see regularly.
I pray that God will continue to free you of jealous feelings. We don’t own anyone; we haven’t purchased them with a price; they are not ours; we have not sealed them with our spirit. All of this applies to a dating relationship too. We don’t own each other and the things we want aren’t limited anyway! Are you jealous when your boyfriend or girlfriend talks to someone you are insecure about? Grow up – especially you guys. What are you afraid of? That she will fall for some other guy and leave you for him? Have you thought that through? So, rather than have her leave you for another guy she likes better, you would rather have a relationship for the rest of your life in which you are having to constantly control who she is around because you have chosen to spend your life with someone who you think is so weak in her character that she is going to run off with the first guy who flexes her direction? If you really think she is that kind of girl, then don’t date her! If you haven’t been able to trust any woman, then recognize that you are the problem, not her. Ladies, if you are dating a jealous guy, it may feel a little like love that he is so worried about where you are all of the time, but it isn’t… it is fear and the fearful need to control. 1 Cor 13 tells us that love is not envious (same word as “jealous” in that passage). It indicates a pretty serious insecurity and probably a pretty strong character flaw as well in him. I recommend dumping him for someone with more faith and less fear.
However – dating aside, my advice is that you learn to love your friends and praise God for their friendship. In fact, I would recommend that you pray for their friendship and grow, as well as for your friendship with them to grow as well! In the end, it is all God’s from an ownership or “worthy of” perspective.
Your friend, even though I have other friends,
You’re not alone and we would love to join you as you take steps toward a stronger, healthier future.
I believe we all need a safe place to explore the issues that may be preventing us from experiencing a full and satisfying life. My greatest reward as a therapist is helping my clients examine ways to make the changes in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope. I am a bilingual (Spanish-English) LPC.
Our team will reach out to you soon!