Recently Lori at Encourage Your Spouse wrote about being envious of your spouse, or rather how not to be. This is a difficult subject to talk about in any relationship; but when you say that it’s how you feel about your spouse, well, nobody really wants to be caught with their hand in that cookie jar.
But there I was, it was about twelve years ago, I had never heard anyone talk about being envious of your spouse, and the envy that I experienced was a little different than what Lori explained; but I guess it comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Whenever I read 1 Corinthians 13, I always seemed to gloss over the “love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy” part. Really, I didn‘t think I had a problem with envy, and I didn‘t, not for the most part. But there was this one little area (which turned out to be not so little).
One of the examples that Lori used was envy of a spouse’s employment. For me, it wasn’t really about his job, per se. Darrell has always benefited from the perks wherever he worked: Lots of networking and meals out; expense accounts; travel, courses, cars etc. (you get the pic I’m sure) He‘s a natural leader. Filled with great management and people skills, as well as over-the-top mechanical and technical abilities. Businesses tend to latch onto that skill set pretty quick. I’ve always been the one to keep the house and family safe and guarded while he‘s at work, and I’m happy doing it.
Sounds great right? It was … until he arrived home.
Blinded By Envy
Here’s how it played out. As long as we were in agreement, he could have the authority – I believed this WAS his authority. But as soon as our opinions differed, this was when the struggles ensued. I thought it was him just not understanding, well … that he was wrong. If he would just understand – just be … reasonable, he would see that my way is better. Then we wouldn’t be mucking around in the same puddle ß (clue right there) all the time.
Envy created a double mindedness in me – an inability to see. Although I was elated about his successes at work – which came directly as a result of his skills and ability to lead – his authority, I didn’t want ANY of it at home. Here it comes, I was envious of my husband’s God given authority.
Interesting choice of words: God given authority. Not wanting to submit to an authority is pride – any authority. Pride is what changed Lucifer into Satan. He wanted to be like the most high. I wanted to be the most high – over and above my husband … I would tell him how to lead me.
And here’s the thing, at home he wasn’t a good leader. Not because he didn’t want to or because he lacked the ability; but because he couldn’t. I always tied up his mind (and heart) with conflict … he was too busy deflecting all of my challenges to lead. It wasn’t that I picked fights – I just, didn’t follow.
After years and years of fighting, challenging and conflict – you develop little cracks and breaks inside your heart. You get tired of always fighting. Conflict is emotionally and physically draining, and sometimes you don’t even give yourself a chance to recover before you are onto the next fight. These cracks inside my heart were very important. They were all threading and joining into one another to cause a shattering. This shattering is when I was finally weak enough to hear what God had been saying all along, “Why are you fighting your husband? He didn‘t tell you to submit – I did.”
And you know what? God was right. It’s God who says to submit, yet I was taking it out on my husband because I wanted the authority to run my own life. ß (another clue right there) The problem was, God hadn’t given me the authority in our marriage, He had given it to my husband and I was green with envy over that. I didn’t like my God given right to surrender – I wanted what God gave my husband.
~ James 4:1-3 ~
What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are warring in your bodily members? You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purposes and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.
- Our marriage was steadily increasing in strife, discord, feuds, conflicts, quarrels, fightings.
- Wanting to be in authority did not come from God, but myself.
- Envious of Darrell’s authority, I coveted what he had. Not able to get it, I started to hate him because I was unable to attain the gratification and happiness in life and marriage that I wanted.
- I prayed – A LOT, but not for a surrendered heart.
- What I did pray, was for HIM to change; I failed to receive this.
- My purpose was wrong. It was against the order God set out, that made it evil. It was selfish because wanting to be in authority was simply because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do – it would be for my own pleasure – I believed I knew better.
I had unconsciously set my sights on Darrell for taking the authority away from me; but the truth is, I never really had it. Believing that I did is what was feeding the flesh of my selfish inner person and changing me, for the negative – just like it did with Lucifer.
First, as a believer my life is not my own. I was supposed to have given up that claim when I surrendered it to Christ.
Don’t’ you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must Honour God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, emphasis added)
Second, the problem was that I didn’t like God’s agenda and it showed in my lack of submission to my husband – I had kept back part for myself. I would surrender to God as a believer in Jesus – but not to my husband.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Saviour of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24, emphasis added)
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. (Colossians 3:18, emphasis added)
God allowed my own envy to bind and crush me so that I could see that my surrender to Him was not complete – He used Darrell to do it. Until I was ready to see it and admit – God couldn’t heal this part of my heart and renew my mind.
But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal. (Job 5:17, emphasis added)
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, emphasis added)
When you think you’re the authority, but you aren’t – you’ll rub up against the one who really does have the authority, you are going to take some bumps and lumps as you strive against God trying to take what He has never given you. It was this bumping and banging into each other that God used to wear me down so that I could really take a good look inside my heart and see what was there. If it wasn’t for Darrell’s strong A-type personality to withstand, or if I would have left our marriage – I never would have made this step in growth and would still be living out of an unrepentant heart.
Satan tried to use my envious heart to destroy our marriage. But God meant it for good.