Jealousy and Envy. How many of us are willing to admit these two things have any place in our head or our heart. Perhaps not many but instead of asking for a show of hands, today I will share my personal struggle with these thing feelings. It is a mighty struggle, and to be honest, one that I don’t always come out on the best side of.
Every morning I have the same routine - wake up, say a quick prayer, make coffee, jump on the internet. Once online, I research, read, and share Catholic content from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and of course, Catholic blogs. I sometimes spend hours looking at all the great things other people are saying, doing and photographing.
It seems all well and fine while I'm online. I am excited by all the amazing things God is doing with so many amazing people who are willing to answer YES to God's call to serve and share the Good News. Yet, quietly, almost unnoticeable, something is happening that if left unchecked would become a great tool for the evil one. As I explore, read, and re-post comparisons cultivate. As I become aware of other people's opportunities or good fortune, a seed of sadness sometimes grows. As I look at the shiny, pretty offerings of the other Catholic bloggers, media savvy posters and New Evangelizers, my own work appears duller and duller. Insecurity creeps in as I look at the degrees people hold, ideas they had first, and books they've been blessed to publish - and discouragement overtakes me. It is subtle, it may even go undetected for a while - but it is there and I know it because my JOY wanes and anxiety abounds.
So there you have it - my weakest link - I am an incredibly jealous and envious person. It is a battle I have to consciously fight every day. The evil thing and disorder that St. James speaks of, for me, is how the enemy can use my own thoughts and feelings to either paralyze or blind me. It isn't all on the enemy either - he may get the ball rolling, but I do just fine and dandy keeping the momentum going all on my own! Recognizing these profound temptations and flaws of my nature are an important first step in overcoming them.
These are the tools I utilize (daily) to wage war against them - so that I can remain focused on doing the "Will of the One who sent me," (John 6:38), and not be frozen in my own insecurity.
SacramentsI am blessed to receive what I refer to as The Spiritual Trifecta every Friday. The Spiritual Trifecta consists of Reconciliation, Mass, and a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. I rely very heavily on the grace of the Sacraments to keep me focused outwardly on God, embracing his love and that love for others, and not inward on myself!
Spiritual DirectionI am not in this alone. Thoughts kept inside my head, remain in the dark, where the prince of darkness reigns, but when I speak them into the light the Prince of Light casts His love over them. My Spiritual Director, a Deacon, provides solid but stern (when I need it) guidance.
ScriptureI turn to the Word of God to stay grounded in Truth and not the lies of the enemy or my own head. St. Paul's words (see below) from 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, have become my greatest weapon. This reminder that I not only have my own appointment from God but also possess all the gifts and talents I need to accomplish what He calls me to. The beauty of Church is we need each other, we are all in this together, and it is working in communion with each other that God is truly glorified, and when His work and will are done. Life is not a competition but a coming together.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Cor 12:27-31