From jealous to joyous

It’s all too easy to get sucked in.

And suddenly, it seems there’s no way out.

You’ve got a few spare minutes, so you hop on Twitter.  Or maybe you prefer Instagram. (Or, if you’re in your 20s or older, Facebook – I’m told that most teens aren’t on Facebook these days.)

Whatever your social media of choice, you log in and start scrolling. And scrolling. And scrolling.

Some of it is fun and sweet. Look at those pictures of her lunch – delicious AND nutritious! And her fingernails are painted perfectly – she looks SO cute holding that coffee!

For a little while, it’s fun to see what your friends are up to. You like checking in.

And then, it gets mindless.

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. A mindless “like” here, a “favorite” there.

And subtly, jealousy begins to set in.

You start feeling less happy for people – and less happy about yourself.

“She’s so healthy – why did I eat that huge brownie?!”

“Her hair is perfect – I’m feeling like a mess. And NOT a hot mess – just a mess!”

“She gets to go on vacation AGAIN? I wish my family would take a trip like that.”

“She has a boyfriend?! Why hasn’t anybody asked me out?”

You’re not the only one who thinks this way. I do it, too – it’s just about different things than it used to be.

First, it was boyfriends. Then “dream jobs.” Then vacations, or extended travel, or living abroad. Then engagements and weddings.

And with each life step I take, someone is always one step ahead.

My Twitter feed is still mostly news stories, since I follow a lot of journalists. I haven’t checked my Instagram in a while, but it’s probably still mostly food, dogs, and sunsets.

But my Facebook? That’s a different story. It’s covered in beautiful babies, charming new homes, and people who are exercising way more than I am.

Just the other day, I caught myself looking. At first, I enjoyed it. I took delight in my friends’ happiness. I shared their joy.

But then, without even realizing how I’d gotten there, I was jealous.

I started asking myself the question that’s always been there: “When will it be my turn?”

That’s right – even as an adult, I’m still asking this question.

But girls, listen closely to this part: We don’t have to do this to ourselves.

There is another way.

No, I’m not going to tell you to get off social media completely, because it’s fun. It can be encouraging and special, and it can allow us to connect with friends who are far away on a day-to-day basis. So, no, I’m not going to say, “Delete your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/etc.”

What I am going to encourage might actually be a little harder – but it will be better. You will be a better person for it. And if I can follow my own advice, so will I. Are you with me?

It’s time for us to step off the jealous cycle and get on the joyous cycle.

How do we do that?

I think it’s a combination of time and trust.

I’m beginning to notice a pattern: The more time I spend scrolling down that screen, the more my joy starts to fade – and the more jealousy starts to creep in.

But the more time I spend having actual meaningful interactions with friends, the more my joy grows. And jealousy? What’s that?

What if we spent less time “following” people, and more time actually interacting? Sometimes, that means a text conversation with ONE person: Texting my sister, my mom, or a close friends brings me a million times more joy than seeing what 100 other people are doing, or checking how many people have “liked” my picture.

And writing a letter to that one special friend – now that’s rewarding. (I’ve written about that before.)

What about phone calls, walks in the park, and coffee dates? Don’t even get me started on how AMAZING those can be! Some of my most treasured moments happen over a cup of something warm (and maybe a muffin!) at a table across from a friend.

And we don’t take a single picture.

What if we spent less time “checking up” on what other people are doing, and spent more time doing things we love to do? Instead of worrying about everyone else’s excitement, why don’t we go out and find our own?

Just staring at that screen can be draining. But reading a book, baking cookies, petting my dog – all those things help renew me.

Instead of wondering why we don’t have the special moments that others have, what if we learn to see the beauty and joy in our own circumstances?

Yeah, you might not have a boyfriend. But I bet you’ve got some pretty great girls in your friend group. Yes, you will have bad hair days – but what’s so wrong with having a messy ponytail because you ran through the park, or simply because you were too busy doing other things to care? (The answer: Nothing is wrong with that!) You might not have the same talents and adventures as others, but you’ve got other great things in your life.

One of my favorite things to do – and I don’t do it enough – is to find the gifts in each day. It’s an idea from one of my favorite Christian devotional writers, Ann Voskamp. Every month, she has a new list of 3 “gifts” to look for each day – things like, “3 gifts read,” “A gift small, smaller, smallest,” or “3 gifts undervalued.” It’s like a scavenger hunt for blessings.

That brings me to the other part of the answer to “What do we do about this jealousy thing?”

We trust.

When we get so caught up in what other people have or do that we become jealous, and when we ignore the blessings that surround us, it’s like saying that what God has given us isn’t good enough.

When it really comes down to it, I think there’s a fear at the heart of all that jealousy. We ask when it will be our turn, and we compare ourselves to others, but underneath, we’re worried: Will it EVER happen to me?

I know trust is WAY easier said than done. It’s hard to trust – really hard, especially when you’re tired and overwhelmed, and everyone else is Tweeting about what a GREAT day they’re having.

But we have to learn to trust that God has something great out there for us – and that He has us where we are for a reason.

And that fear, it won’t help us. It’s like a cloud that doesn’t let us see the twinkling stars at night, or that blocks the warm sunshine during the day.

When we can see past that fear and embrace the moment we’re living in, and when we can stop the cycle of comparison and begin to really live our lives – the lives that God has created us for – that’s when life is sweet.


P.S. I’ve just shared this post on holleygerth.com, where writer Holley Gerth brings women together for some encouragement with “Coffee for Your Heart.”  

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