the sour taste of envy

“Envy is a form of sadness provoked by another’s prosperity.” (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 95)

Love is not jealous  (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Tell that to the green-eyed monster claiming life-long squatter’s rights in my brain! Every time I try to evict the little bugger, he raises another example of someone’s superior achievements compared to my own meagre efforts.

  • Mothers who managed to raise families AND have a career AND find time and energy to complete post-grad degrees AND look beautiful while doing it!
  • Bloggers who never miss a beat in their writing, consistently producing brilliant pieces that I wish I wrote. (Don’t they know about writer’s block???)
  • Anyone with a blog or any social media account (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) who obviously has more “friends” than I have.
  • Friends who have written and published one or more books while I keep dreaming of starting one.
  • Women my age who will proudly bare their gym-toned arms or Zoomba fit legs now that the summer sun is around the corner.

Why, oh why do we torture ourselves with this soul-sucking competition? Why can’t we focus more on our own goals without feeling we are being left in the dust by others? Why can’t we feel pride in every step we take on our life’s journey, without mentally measuring the leaps and bounds of those on a similar path?

Pope Francis writes in Amoris Laetitia,

“Whereas love makes us rise above ourselves, envy closes us in on ourselves. True love values the other person’s achievements. It does not see him or her as a threat. It frees us from the sour taste of envy.” AL, 95

Envy certainly produces a sour taste in families. Competition seems wired into our human nature. Siblings are quick to accuse parents of favouring one child over another. Families judge themselves and each other based on the size of their homes or the success of their children. Parents feel slighted if adult children give affection and time more readily to the in-laws than to them. Envy sours the love needed for peace within and among families.

Francis goes on to remind us that love always respects diversity,

“It recognizes that everyone has different gifts and a unique path in life. So it strives to discover its own road to happiness, while allowing others to find theirs.” AL 95

Ah, there it is. A reminder to stop and acknowledge our differences, without mentally placing them in a hierarchy of achievement. We not only have different gifts and talents, but different life circumstances, joys and challenges.

Difference viewed side by side, not as one automatically better than the other. Difference that is a cause for celebration, not envy.