Originally published Friday, 10 October 2014.
people. it's friday. i'm so thrilled by this. friday also means i write about relationships, which i'm not as thrilled about because relationships are kind of messy because we're kind of messy. one of the things i personally wrestle with, and that i really hate about myself, is friend envy. i like to think this is because my friends are exceptionally awesome. it seems harmless enough. wishing my apartment were as big as friend a's. wishing i had a job more like friend b's. comparing my own accomplishments and possessions and instagram accounts.
she's prettier than me, i tell myself.
she can buy anything she wants, i tell myself.
people like her better than me, i tell myself.
while this might seem harmless, while i might tell myself that it's nothing more than a natural response to being surrounded by so many amazing women, i've been reminded lately how dangerous friend envy can be. we might say comparison is the thief of joy and recognize that friend envy is impacting our own happiness. but are we aware of how quickly this type of attitude can utterly strangle a true friendship? it doesn't just make me dissatisfied with my own life - which is dangerous enough in and of itself - but it makes me resentful toward women whose friendship is truly a gift from God. it's like a cancer that creeps in and takes the joy not only out of me, but out of true community. it isolates me in a world of self-pity, thinking no one else understands me or my own particular set of problems. i believe wholeheartedly that satan uses friend envy to attempt to ruin friendships that glorify The Lord and draw me closer to Him. he knows that i believe the lies he tells me and he knows he can tarnish something beautiful as a result.
it's true that friends are supposed to challenge us, inspire us and walk beside us in our journey. it's true that friendships are supposed to build us up instead of bringing us down. it's true that friends don't always do that. but the thing about friend envy that's so dangerous is we start to think good friends aren't good friends simply because we're so blinded by resentment that we forget all of the reasons the friendship is so good in the first place. we can only focus on the parts that make us feel like less than we are, even if they are 100% unfounded.
i can't say that i've found some sort of magical solution to resolving friend envy. it still creeps in when my friends are particularly amazing or successful. when they start dating someone, get married, get pregnant, buy a house, take exciting vacations, are invited to things i'm not. a lot of life changes happen in our twenties and for some reason, i often treat it like it's a competition. like i'm somehow less if i'm not experiencing all the same things my friends are. i am fully aware that the issue is a result of my own insecurities and not the fact that i'm any less than they are. i understand that i'm immensely blessed myself. but it doesn't change the fact that it's there. in the back of my mind. whispering.
the only thing i can say that's helped sustain friendships despite this ridiculous, invidious mindset is the fact that i'm aware of it. i do my best to recognize those feelings when they start to creep in and define them as lies. i do my best to pray through them with the knowledge that i'm allowing my own brokenness to corrupt a good gift from The Lord if i allow myself to believe them. i think relationships in general are particularly at risk when we make our own issues the fault of the other party. in this case, i want to ensure that my own insecurities do not impact my feelings about or views of my friends in any way. i desire to see their heart - for The Lord and for me - rather than the ridiculous reasons i might think they're better than me.
writing this with the intent of posting it is making me feel particularly more vulnerable than i thought it would, but i can't help but wonder if that's a good thing. if recognizing the selfish insanity of these issues is the best way to let go of them. i don't want to be anyone other than who i am, who The Lord created me to be, and i don't want to live my life any differently than the way He orchestrates it for me. and the friends who recognize that and love me in spite of all my messiness are very much worth keeping around.
image via megan on pinterest