I know better. And yet I did it anyway.
Not my fault, really. I never would have given in if I hadn’t seen that best-seller list. With that name. That author who started years after I did. Who was getting all the accolades, all the lists, all the awards…
I mean, I’d had a book on the bestseller list. So what if it was years ago? So what if the book that mattered most to me got panned by an important industry magazine? I wasn’t writing for the kudos. I was writing for God.
What is so great about that author’s book? Why are readers going gaga? Hmmm…I’ll do it. Just for a second. Just hop on over and see what I can learn from the reviews. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Learn. It’s not like I’m looking for the negative ones, hoping to feast on criticism about the writ…
Oh. Gee. There aren’t any negative ones.
Man! It’s just not fair! That’s it. I’m done! Why do I even keep trying? Readers wouldn’t know quality writing if it walked up and bit them on the nose! This is it…This is the end of my career…I’m gonna go raise dogs. THEY will love me! Waaahhhhhh!
Ah, jealousy. That insidious, twisting, warping tool that the enemy loves to use. It dances inside of us, coaxing us down the treacherous path of comparison.
Friends, the moment we give in, the second we turn our eyes from the One who gave us this task of writing and onto others who’ve also been given this task—
Today, let me give you a tip. The next time this ugly little pixie tries to pry open your heart and mind, you can stop it cold by turning from comparison to celebration. For the very person you almost envied. Or, okay, that you do envy. Take a moment, admit that sin, and then smash this obstacle into smithereens by offering a prayer of celebration that another traveller on this rocky, challenging road has succeeded. Because that means God’s truth, as He’s asked that person to share it, is reaching those who need it! Make the focus God, His truth, and that person. Don’t ask for yourself. Leave your hopes and dreams in the only Hands that will bring them to fruition as He sees fit. Get your focus off of you, and onto Him. And His people.
Then move on. Get back to work. And while you’re at it, embrace these truths to shatter Writers’ Obstacle #8: Jealousy and Comparison–
Proverbs 14:30— A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
Proverbs 27:4— Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.
Galatians 5:15, 19-23–So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:…quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition…envy… and other sins like these. Let me tell you again…that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control….Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
John 15:4-5 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
2 Timothy 1:9–He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
I appreciate your use of scripture in this very relatable post! It reminds me that Christian literature is indeed the genre that I should pursue. I want to surround myself with industry professionals who remind me that it is God’s glory and will that should prevail.
What a great perspective! Thank you for that reminder that we are called to do what God asks of us, regardless of how it compares to another’s call.
I love how you started out sharing that you’re just like me. Great article. Thanks for your transparency regarding this silent sin. It’s so painful. It hurts us by isolating us from potential friends and preventing us from enjoying the writing journey like it’s meant to be enjoyed.
My comment is that #8 might be better at or near the top. This is surely something we all struggle with at some point. Thanks, Karen.
This is so true! And where satan loves to feast the most–on Christians whose goal is to use their gifts for God’s glory. You can hear the evil laugh as he turns that ministry into his playground.
As Rebekah mentioned above, it’s a silent sin. One we can pretend we don’t pursue … and yet, it’s there. Thank you, Karen, for exposing it for what it is!!! And in such a human way, too.
I sometimes fall prey to this one, and when I do, I hear the words in my head repeating, “I am who I am.” And God seems to answer back, “And I’ve called you to do what I’ve called you to do. It’s not the same thing as that other person.” I rest in that!
When I start to feel jealous, I ask why. Usually it’s because the writing is so far beyond mine. (When it isn’t I simply pity the poor misguided readers). Then I tell myself to relax, read, and enjoy the book, and sure enough the writing inspires me, motivates me, and an I have a renewed energy for writing. So let’s feel jealous for a moment, but then turn it into something good!
Ugh, that little pixie is so ugly when I turn around and give it a good look! I am passionate about reaching hurting people with the message of God’s love and healing, and yet sometimes when I see another book written on “my” topic, I get this nudge of agitation. Competitiveness. Envy. Yep, it’s ugly. Like there could be too many people extending God’ message. Ha! You’re right Karen, it’s about Jesus, every time.
Damon J. Gray
Gut-wrenching posts like this make it difficult to look in the mirror – difficult, but oh-so-necessary.
Great essay, Karen!
My way of looking at jealousy is rooted in an appreciation of life now. My wife and I have a sanctuary for abused and abandoned dogs, and if I had the success I wanted, when I wanted it, my life in the intervening years would have been different…which means that where I would have been, physically, on those days and times would likely have been different, too.
So Bella would have died in the ditch in which we found her, and Strawberry would have wandered off, forlorn, into the desert because I would not have been at home And more
Each time I show jealousy I throw away the good that happened in my life, discard the graces I’ve been given. And since it’s not just me that’s affected – it’s life and death for these animals, who are fully capable of joy and fear and love – it is more clearly an affront to God, for these are His creation, too, and He has aplced them in my care.
I love the Proverbs 27:4 quote. Anger and wrath don’t fire me up often, but jealousy–that can creep in if I don’t pay attention.
It’s good to remember no one can be best at everything all the time. I can’t even be best all the time at the things God has gifted me to do extremely well. Reminding myself of that helps keep Jealously at bay.
It’s a universal problem. In my scitech career, I made it a point to congratulate someone I knew whenever they won an award or had a remarkable success. Even the most successful of them were delighted by that. Very few congratulated me when the roles were reversed, but most of them didn’t believe in Jesus. He calls us to a higher standard, and people who don’t know him but know we do take notice when we follow a different path. We’re witnesses even when it’s not intentional.
A path to the dark side jealousy is!
Christne L. Henderson
Guilty as charged. I have to keep reminding myself that I am one-of-a-kind in God’s image and not compare my writing path with others. God has a special plan for each of us and we just need to follow his lead.
How do you know what we writers need and only a day later?
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Only a day after rejoicing with a friend over finishing a thirteen chapter nonfiction ms. I flipped through pages of a beloved NYT best-selling author. (You represent/ed. 🙂 )
“How can I compete with that?”
Thank you, Karen–for the liberating reminder that on this path to published, many are the called by God who have gone before, walk beside, and will follow.
There’s room enough “on a world pitch dark in need of bright” for inspirational writers to “shine their light.”
Love your quote of John 15. One of my favs. I cut back on my scripture quotes in my current wip because I’m hearing publishers don’t like scriptures.
Thanks, Karen, for this post.
I used to be jealous or envious of a friend who writes fiction and is very talented. Then I heard a sermon on the radio. I don’t even remember what it was all about, but the point I got was that God has more than enough talents to give out to people. There is no talent shortage. He gives as He pleases, and He knows what He’s doing and why. I need to be concerned about “tending my own field”, not watching her as she tends hers. Remembering this helps me a lot.
I love the heart and spirit of this post, Karen. We are called to steward the gifts God gives us, not to wish He had gifted us like someone else. The tip to celebrate another’s success is wonderful – I can’t help but think Satan must squirm when we turn an occasion he intends for the sin of jealousy into an occasion for gratitude and celebration instead. Thank you for sharing!