Thursday, January 31, 2013

Addicted

Imagine with me for a moment that we are sitting together in a room.  It's probably in the basement of a church or a rec center or something of the like, sporting an emerald green carpet and metal folding chairs that have likely resided here since 1991.  There is a folding banquet table set up in the corner stocked with foam coffee cups next the the metal carafe of slightly better than sludge coffee that was brewed a couple hours ago.  We nervously walk around a bit, clutching our foam cup while we stir in the dash of flavored creamer and packet of Sweet 'n Low, perhaps in an attempt to account for the doughnut we plan on grabbing from the table a little later, you know....if things get to that point.

The room begins to fill and we take our seats, making sure to flip the switch on our phones so that we won't be "that guy" whose loud refrain of Call Me Maybe interrupts the meeting and ends up spiraling the owner into such a horrific panic that they forget where they put their phone and end up just excusing themselves to the hallway, only to disappear forever.  

Ringers safely silenced, coffee adequately sweetened, and purse tucked neatly under the cold seat, we begin.  The leader gestures in my direction and with a sweet smile and the tiniest of nods, encourages me to stand and introduce myself.

"Hello," I begin.  "My name is Sarah and I am an addict.  I am addicted to envy."

Envy?

Nope, that's not the street name of some new illicit drug making its way around the mean streets of my middle class suburb.  It's just one of the most devastating weapons that the Enemy uses to wage war in my heart as he covets my soul.

It doesn't take much to get the stirrings of jealousy awoken within me.  A customer at one of my tables sporting a diamond the size of an ice rink, my co-worker who just got a manicure, my neighbor driving by in her tricked out 2013 minivan, a girlfriend who has the most amazing hair.  I scroll through my blog reader and see photos of a dream house being built, complete with a pool that appears to be the size of my house.  I see a woman who is able to travel across the country to attend and speak at blog conferences, enjoying interviews with celebrities and swag bags.  I read the testimony of women who are so RIGHT with the Lord, whose insights into Scripture blow my mind and make me wonder, "What's wrong with me?  Why couldn't I see it that way?"  And I gaze longingly at the images of these beautiful women - wives and mothers just like me - who are able to dress in pretty clothes and fancy shoes while they strut through their day and just ROCK IT OUT.

And the envy appears.  I allow it to brew and steep and eventually bubble over, like a poison overflowing its cauldron.  The resentment follows soon after and I begin to convince myself that I shouldn't have to sit here and feel that way.  Heck, I deserve to have those things too!

This is where I really get myself into trouble.  Instead of digging deeper into the Word, I withdraw.  Instead of cleaning and sprucing up my home to help me feel more satisfied with it, I avoid going to playdates at a fellow mama's house because I'm afraid my kids would mess up her pristine home.  Instead of knowing and believing that God will provide for me more than the lilies of the field, I go and blow our budget on new clothes and the matching guilt.

It's such a vicious cycle.  Envy is a very, very dangerous drug.  It's the gateway to discontentment, selfishness, deceit, and unhealthy indulgence.  Side effects include broken relationships, depression, a distorted view of reality, and greed.


So now I'm going to do what I should have done before I went to the mall and spent money I didn't really have on clothes I didn't really need:  I'm going to turn to God's Word.

Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an INHERITANCE among all those who are sanctified.  I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing.   (Acts 20: 32-33, emphasis mine)

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  (Romans 13: 13-14, emphasis mine)

And then there was this one.  Friends, this one really made me feel like I had nailed my envy=drug metaphor:

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones(Prov 14:30, emphasis mine)

It seems so simple, doesn't it?  If my heart is at peace and I am content with the blessings the Lord has given me, I am given LIFE.  If I continue to allow envy to flow through my body, it will ROT my bones, slowly destroying me from the inside out.  Like a cancer.  Like a drug.

So this is what I must do.  Instead of coveting the attributes of others to the point that I seek to take them for my own, I must covet God's righteousness and seek his truth above all.  Just as an addict must seek treatment and find ways to cope with their urges to use, I need to seek God's counsel and invite him to fill my heart with the peace that gives life.  Thankfully, Paul lets us know how to go about acquiring a heart at peace in his letter to the Philippians.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis mine)

No drug addict can quit on their own, just like that.  When something is so addicting and so dangerous, we desperately need help to give us the strength we need to fight it.  God gives us that strength.

So hi there.  My name is Sarah.  I am an envy addict.  My recovery will not come overnight, but only through daily prayer and petition to my heavenly Father.  I resolve to seek out the abundant blessings that surround me and to approach his throne in thanksgiving.  I will request that he help me to trust him to provide for our needs and for the strength to keep envy at bay and be satisfied with what he chooses to bestow.  Slowly, peace and life I can only find in Christ Jesus will replace the rot and death I have been finding in Envy.

Meeting adjourned.  Now, who wants a doughnut?

P.S.  Yes, I realize the irony in publishing this post after my Stitch Fix post on Monday.  Believe me, it isn't a coincidence.  ;)






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