I'm facing a dilemma at the moment.
I can't decide if I'm going to hide the gray hairs popping up all over my head at my next hair appointment or if I'm going to let them be.
On one end, I want to hide them because I don't love them. Nothing wrong with that.
On the other end, I'm grateful to have this thick, dark hair (that conveniently makes the silver hairs glimmer and shine.) I don't care if some of it's gray. My colorectal cancer certainly taught me to not take it for granted. My friend Nicole's story reminds me it's a blessing. So maybe I should just let the grays shine - who cares?
But these grays - man they multiply like rabbits! It seems like when I pull one out, five more grow in its place. Welcome to my 30s huh?
You know what else seems to appear just as frequently as my gray hairs these days?
The Green-Eyed Monster
Yep - that green-eyed monster we all pretend we don't know... but we do.
That little thing we'd love to cover up along with our aging signs.
That deep down gut punch each time we see someone living a life or having something we want... it seems to come around all of the time these days. Thank you social media!
We can't help but notice-
That house or car. Or that amazing closet!
Those perfect kids who don't leave gooey food sticking to the carpet of the family vehicle, whose parents don't feel compelled to offer apologies to "non family" riding along.
That bank account - just imagine the things we could do for God if we had that money! Or the vacations we'd take!
The success, power and influence - if only we were called like that for God!
That family. Oh man, if only we'd had that support in life...
That beauty - it's show-stopping. That body, if only ours looked like that maybe we wouldn't hate swim suit shopping. That skin - so flawless! So privileged!
Those intestines and natural hormones - if only we could eat anything whenever we wanted and not have to worry about estrogen patches and hormones! (OK - this might be getting a little personal to me.)
Ultimately - those blessings! Man we want them!
But then we stop and catch ourselves coveting - and then we try really hard not to do it again.
But inevitably we fail. We log on and scroll through. The monster appears. Why? Well, because we don't know our own sin.
The Old Sense of Sin
It's true that God wants us to ask Him for our hearts' desires after we've given gratitude. He wants us to ask for more! But he also calls us to repent daily.
And here's what I used to miss all. the. time.
"A recovery of the old sense of sin is essential to Christianity. Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed. We lack the first condition for understanding what he is talking about." - C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
The "old sense of sin" is key. It's repenting even if we don't think we've done anything "wrong."
Because we have.
In this broken, human-filled, mix-up world of ours we cannot help but be jealous sometimes. We have nobody to blame but ourselves. Our bodies, as mankind, are innately broken. Jesus was the only exception.
All my life I would have nodded my head and agreed with both C.S Lewis and even myself (if I were to have written this years prior). I grew up in church, considered myself a Christian for the majority of my life and even worked in full-time ministry at one point. So of course, I would get this. We're all sinners, we need a savior, and Jesus is it. Of course I get jealous sometimes.
But here's why I couldn't break free. I couldn't admit this:
Yes, I am jealous from time to time, but yes, I also deny the very fact I get jealous in the first place just about every day.
Now that's something wrong that needs my daily repentance.
C.S. Lewis calls it the inner being of the soul - what's sitting down there that brews even before the words of either denial or confession make it to our mouths. That's the gross stuff we really need to be turning over.
Freedom from Jealousy is Possible
So what does freedom from jealousy take? It's awareness of (1) the act of being jealous, and (2) the inner dialogue that tries to stuff the very fact we feel jealous. It's awareness of both of these things that leads us to true repentance and humility.
Once we recognize and release it, we're free. No shame in being jealous, but no binding either. And that's the Gospel. It's really that simple.
When we walk this transformative process, we can settle our jealousy and see what God sees.
At least that's been my experience.
I see my abundant blessings, and I know how to ask for more without looking like a spiritual spoiled brat.
I can rejoice with others for their gifts and opportunities, truly.
I realize I don't have to obtain, own or look like everyone else.
I understand it's OK, and it's actually good, that I don't have it all together. I'm happy God has a different plan for me.
I'm content with this house. This car. This body. This disease.
I'm comfortable, at least for now, with these gray hairs.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Can you admit it yet? You're jealous. We all are. It takes stepping into that acknowledgement for us to see what God has in store for us. If we hold back, we won't see it. Maybe today's the day.