Lately, I’ve been paying attention to my jealousies.
The act in and of itself sometimes feels a little bit daring and dangerous, like straddling railroad tracks, not knowing when you’ll hear the sound of the whistle. And I suppose it makes sense, for jealousy, after all, isn’t necessarily something I’m supposed to feel.
Jealousy I should run from.
Jealously I should take notice of, but then quickly flick off my shoulder. Good riddance, you jealous thing, you!
Jealousy I repent of, for jealousy, after all, is not a good thing. Jealousy should not mark me, nor should it be something that lives in my spirit.
But as it turns out, I really am a human after all, with feelings and thoughts and sometimes even a dose or two of intuition. So jealousy is actually something I’m bound to feel, because it’s part of the very nature of being a human.
So for now, as I learn to live in the land of gray, instead of in a world of black and white, I’m letting myself see how jealousy might actually be a good thing. I’m taking notice. I’m paying attention.
Really, I’m listening for truth behind jealousy’s facade.
Take, for instances, some of the jealousies I’ve noticed pop up in my life in the last week or two:
*An acquaintance became an influencer for a major brand …and I didn’t.
*I saw a picture of some friends hanging out on Instagram without me.
*Some colleagues received invitations to walk the Selma Bridge for the fiftieth anniversary …and I didn’t.
*My husband went to see Black Panther, while I stayed home with the kids.
*A friend received an invitation to publish in a major news outlet …and I didn’t.
*One of my pastor-friends hired someone else to fill the pulpit instead of me.
I look at the list, and every part of me that wants to appear bright and shiny and jealous-free on the outside winces in pain: I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST SAID ALL OF THIS OUT LOUD. I shudder in pain, because I know I’m not supposed to let the world in on my jealousies. I’m not supposed to let other people know that I really, actually, kind of felt jealous in the moment …or am I?
Whether we air our jealousies in public or in a notebook only our eyes will see, there’s something about noticing our jealousies. There’s something about paying attention to those things that make us feel a little sad when we didn’t get the invitation, when we felt left out, when it wasn’t our turn yet.
Because maybe, if we pay attention to our jealousies, we’ll come to discover a bit more about the dreams that live within the deepest part of our souls.
It is not selfish of me to dream about contributing to my family’s finances by bringing in a little bit of income through my social media presence, just as it is not selfish for me to dream about taking time to practice self-care and treat myself to a night at the movies. It is not selfish for me to dream about being a voice for justice, nor is it selfish of me to want to use my gifts and speak, if I can speak.
Because maybe, when we actually begin to notice our dreams, we’ll start doing the hard work to get there.
Instead of saying we want to write a book someday, we’ll do the hard work of actually putting words to paper and writing every day. Instead of whining that we didn’t get a particular invitation, we’ll take baby steps in friendships, connecting with those in the industry. Instead of being jealous that we didn’t get invited to the party, we’ll extend an invitation and throw our own party.
We’ll implement instead.
So there you go: at least for now, at least for today, I’m keeping track of my jealousies. If something bubbles up to the surface, I take note of said jealousy. I write it down on a piece of paper that hangs over my desk, a piece of paper with the word “jealousies” written in big, purple letters at the top.
But someday, if I’m daring, I just might scribble out “jealousies” and write “DREAMS” in bolded letters over the top.
So, what is it for you? What jealousies have creeped into your heart lately? How can you make those dreams a reality?