My three year old son is in a “fighting monsters” stage. He has several toy swords and we’ve spent many a dreary Saturday creeping through the house on a hunt for big, mean monsters hiding in various nooks and crannies.
Sometimes our nemesis is black, scaly and breathes fire. Other times our target is an alien from outer space that has come to kidnap us. Regardless of the monster’s characteristics and the outcome of our hunt, I inevitably end up reminding him at bedtime that monsters are only imaginary and can’t hurt us.
But is that really true?
Nolan claims to be the resident monster slayer, but little does he know that his momma has faced some very real monsters through the years. In fact, my experience slaying monsters is vast and I am always on the lookout for one to show up in an attempt to throw my perfectly balanced life off kilter.
The monsters I face are freakishly intelligent, know how to weaken my defenses and attack me where and when I’m most vulnerable. They are cunning and show no mercy. And they all have the same eyes…..piercing and green. Very green.
If you aren’t exactly following my Shakespearean references, I’m talking about envy.
I remember the first time one of envy’s foot soldiers came to visit me. My best friend, Julia, showed up at my house with the coolest baby doll I’d ever seen. Cara had the most human features and could have passed for a real infant. Julia took that doll everywhere and people would stop her in the grocery store to look at the new baby. We thought it was funny to carry her by one foot; the gawking shoppers probably thought it was time to call DHS.
The more we played with Cara, the more envious of Julia I became. I couldn’t help but be angry that she got this perfect doll FOR NO REASON while I made straight A’s and always cleaned up my room FOR NOTHING. The green-eyed monster told me that I deserved a Cara for myself. He filled my thoughts with images of Julia playing with Cara 24-hours a day, delighting in her superiority.
I don’t remember exactly what put an end to my jealousy, but thankfully an end did come and my negative feelings were soon forgotten. However, this was the beginning of many years of the monster – I call him “Greenie” since we became pretty tight – taunting me about the various items, experiences or acknowledgments others received that I did not. And, as I got older, I found it more difficult to fend him off without investing time in training activities and equipping myself with sophisticated artillery.
First I had to recognize envy or jealousy for what it really is….insecurity dressed in a hat, sunglasses from ICU Eyewear and a cheesy fake mustache. As I’ve said before, I think most issues women struggle with can be peeled away to reveal insecurity at the core. At least, that’s the root of any problem that comes up for me to this day, which is why I’m attracted to writings on the subject. I would highly recommend Beth Moore’s “So Long, Insecurity” which includes many wonderful insights about a woman’s journey. She says that most of us have one specific area of our lives about which we feel MOST insecure. We end up fixating on that issue and becoming envious of others we perceive as unburdened in that area. For example, you may have a friend who says to you in a conversation about a problem you’re having, “What do you have to worry about? You’re so skinny!” She may say this as if being thin takes away any potential worry or stress in your life. The statement seems absurd to you, but not at all to her. In this case, it’s pretty easy to see that your friend must really be insecure about her own weight and (incorrectly, in most cases) believes that her life would be as perfect as she thinks yours is if she were thin. But as we all know, it’s far easier to see other people’s issues than our own.
Because I am sometimes blind to my own issues, I keep a sword very close at all times. But I also must practice using the sword, for a weapon without skill and familiarity is of no use to anyone. God’s word is my personal sword, and He says a lot about pride, jealousy, envy and, most importantly, how those emotions can lead to bitterness and take control of every aspect of our lives. I hear about horrible crimes and wonder how in the world someone gets to a place where they could do something so vile. But, the reality is that the crime can likely be traced back to an area of bitterness that grew and grew over time. Now, most of us won’t go on a murderous rampage just because we’re desperate for a new car like the neighbor’s, but the point is that something small can and will grow large without intervention. My sword helps me deal swiftly with negative and sinful thoughts before they turn destructive and lead to bigger battles. But, if I must go to battle, I know that God’s word is also stronger than any ole monster and I rely on Him to help me become victorious.
Just because I know what to do doesn’t mean I always do it. I can’t say I’m completely unscathed or that I never find myself looking in my rear view mirror for the telltale green. Even when I make statements about contentment and gratitude in regard to the life that I live compared to others, I still hear the dull roar of the monster in the background as he waits patiently for the moment my sword is just beyond my fingertips.
Alas, I fear the monsters will never disappear completely from my life. But I keep working on myself and rooting myself in what I know to be the truth. What’s a good story without a few intense battles to keep me on my toes? And I do mean on my toes, as I fight my battles in 3 inch heels and I never break a sweat.
Bring it on, Greenie.