There are so many ways to be jealous that it would be impossible to list them all. I have often fallen prey to the longings for more. There is always something more to want. I’ve wanted more things, better things, nice things. Material possessions are easily the first thing that I think of when I think of the word jealousy. So many times in my life I have done without because of the circumstances in my life. I have been jealous of my peer’s houses while I lived in an apartment. I have been jealous of clothes, furniture, electronics, shoes, and so many other things it becomes upsetting when you look around and can only see your need. It is a long ongoing battle, but I have found comfort in the idea that things are just that, things, and really don’t mean anything in the long term.
Lately I have had to battle the jealousy monster in terms of career angst. My friends from college have excelled and are successful ministers. They run churches, are international speakers, direct children’s ministries, they are what the world considers successful. Often I ask the Lord, why not me? Why have you not seen fit to make me as successful as them? And yet I hear the Lord telling me that He has me where He wants me at this exact moment. That success isn’t about what the world sees, it is about being faithful to Him. Success in God’s eyes is more about following His will - even if we fail, we have done what He has asked us to do.
As a birth mother, I have and still often face jealousy. I know that I am not alone. It first came in the form of “Why Lord did you let that woman keep her child, why not me? Why could you have not orchestrated a beautiful miracle for me so that I could be together with my twins?” Then it came in the form of being jealous of the adoptive parents. They get everything I long for – to hug, kiss, be called mommy, to be there for firsts and seconds and even the millionth “why?” that is about to drive their adoptive mom nuts. When I started talking to other birth mothers, I quickly realized that the relationship that I have with the adoptive parents is far from what it could be. At first I wallowed in sorrow, and then I got frustrated by other birth mothers whining that “I only get to see my child every ________ (not often enough).” It made me angry that these birth mothers were not grateful for all they had. I had to stop and realize it is human nature to want more. We always want more, and how can we not want more with our beautiful children? How as birth parents can we be satisfied with whatever small role what we have? Even the most generous adoptive parents are not going to be able to fulfill the desires of our hearts. And the better the relationship you have with the adoptive family, the more you try to respect each other. Respect indicates that you try not to ask too much from them and acknowledge them as mommy and daddy to your child; in turn it creates more jealously and frustration. It seems that no situation in the adoption world will ever be perfect and we all will have to battle emotions that are less that desirable no matter how perfect or imperfect our situations.
So how do we deal with all the jealousy flying around in our heads? The obvious stupid answer that is given is to be grateful for what you have. Often that isn’t enough though. Often we don’t feel we have anything to be grateful for. The longing of your heart can overwhelm your sensibilities and you find that the emotions of jealousy can be consuming.
What positive can come out of a negative emotion like jealousy? Try to let them be a catalyst for something good. If you are jealous of a career let it spur you on to work harder at yours, even if that is being the best college student, stay at home mom, or bank teller you can be. Let it spur you on to greater things in your adoption situation. Work harder on your relationships with the adoptive family, read more books to understand your child. If there is no contact start writing letters or blog about the kind of relationship you would have loved to have, how much you love your child, and what is going on in your life right now. One day you might be able to show your writings to your child and if not than at least you helping yourself cope, instead of wallowing in sorrow.
The Bible does not seem to give us direct instruction on how to get rid of jealousy, just that we should do everything to rid ourselves of this emotion. So according to God what should we do? Turn to him, in all emotions that affect us negatively, give it to Jesus. Give your emotions to him every day if you must. Pray “Lord I am jealous of____________, I am having a difficult time overcoming this, help me. I give it all to you.” Then continue this for the rest of your life if you must.
In the Bible, Paul talks about being content in a crummy situation.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12 & 13
This well-know verse is often used out of context. It says that even though our situations might be awful, even though we are in need, God can help us be content. How? By giving us His strength when we completely surrender to Him. I don’t know how He gives us peace, but I do know that I have experienced that His peace in the most dire and needful of situations. And so can you, if you just believe and ask.
Jealously is an emotion that most people never conquer. It raises its ugly head over and over again in different ways through your entire life. What you can do is learn to cope with it, squelch it before it can take root in your heart, and use it to your advantage. If you can do all that, you will be a much more content person and find peace no matter how difficult your situation.