Blogger: Michelle Ule
Filling in for Rachelle Gardner who is out of the office today.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been wrestling with envy for a long time.
I know it’s a sin, I know it’s wrong, I don’t like it, but it comes out–often when I least expect it–often aimed at other writers.
I wish I was perfect and didn’t wrestle with envy.
But I do.
And I suspect some of you may have trouble with it as well.
The on-line dictionary defines envy this way: “
It warns envy is very close to jealousy:
Here are five things I do when envy wells up.1. Recognize I’m envious and deal with it promptly.
It should be obvious, but it isn’t always.
I’ll see something–usually on Facebook–and feel disgruntled.
That’s usually a tip off that something is wrong in my spirit.
I have a choice: grumble or deal with it.
On days I’m holy, I confess the sin, swallow and move on.
On days I’m not . . . God gets me eventually.
It’s far more efficient to acknowledge the truth and deal with my attitude immediately.
Reciting a version of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 can help.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
2. Avoid comparisons: no one is the same as you.
“Comparisons are odious,” Madeleine L’Engle used to say in her Austen books, referencing John Lydgate, Miguel Cervantes, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare (who may or may not be the same person anyway).
Comparisons do no one any good and either puff up the one or tear down the other.
The stories I want to tell are different than the ones you have to write.
My life experiences cause me to look at the world differently than you do–for a reason.
I cannot compare my writing career with another person’s because only my career has been ordained this way by the God I serve.
So nothing good will come of comparing–apples and oranges, Michelle and Shakespeare, two different styles, two different writers.
3. Flee temptation
If you have recurrent problems with envy and Facebook posts tend to antagonize, you should flee Facebook.
If you’re having a bad day and are swallowing rejections–either real or imaginary–avoid places that will rub salt into your wounds.
It’s easy to anticipate the days I’ll struggle with jealousy on Facebook, and so I don’t log on.
Some people may have difficulty every day, so I have a straight-forward suggestion: why not try Twitter?
Social Media is about providing information and being winsome, establishing relationships and learning.
If envy is getting in the way of your being able to say something nice even when you are disappointed, you need to stay away from social media for a time.
4. Keep in mind you don’t know what success has cost someone else.
I like to remind myself that I don’t know everything about all my friends on Facebook.
While one writer may have enormous success, I do not know what that person has “paid” to achieve it.
Would I really want to have a family member suffer so I could write a successful book?
Of course not.
5. Rejoice–sometimes by praying–and cheer on others.
Rejoicing is a much easier way to live.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength,” according to Proverbs 17:22.
You may need to ask God for an honest heart to be able to rejoice with another writer, but if you do so, your spirits can lift.
Praying, for me, often makes the difference when I’m struggling with envy.
So, I focus on rejoicing with those who rejoice and–as needed–weeping with those who weep.
The point is to take my eyes off myself and my work and focus for the good in others.
Isn’t that what love is all about?
As always, the Bible has wise words on living, whether as a writer or a regular person. 2 Timothy 2:22-24 tells us how:
“Run from temptations that capture young people. Always do the right thing. Be faithful, loving, and easy to get along with. Worship with people whose hearts are pure. Stay away from stupid and senseless arguments. These only lead to trouble, and God’s servants must not be troublemakers. They must be kind to everyone, and they must be good teachers and very patient.”
Everyone struggles with temptation from time to time.
Everyone wishes their project would be admired and acknowledged.
All writers start out wanting to be published.
You’re not alone in wishing . . . just don’t let envy destroy you and your message.
Envy and the writer Click to Tweet
5 ways to deal with envy in the publishing world Click to Tweet