We rarely talk about it. It sneaks up on us when we least expect it, and we often deny we have it, even to ourselves. We catch it, almost like a terrible cold.  We are all fine, walking around content with life, and then, we run into her.

You know, the woman who we think has everything? Or at least everything we think we want?

One of my most memorable moments in which I caught this awful bug, was early in my freshman year of high school. This new girl moved in from out of town, and almost instantly we became friends. We sat next to each other in English class, and passed each other notes. We were friends for a few weeks, until all of a sudden, she was dating an upperclassman on the football team. Before I knew it, we’d say hi now and then, but that was all–she had “moved up” socially.  She made a varsity sports team, and got a lead in the high school play. It seemed like she had the golden touch, and me? I seemed completely, and utterly average.

For a few months, I was seeing green. I couldn’t understand how God could make some people who seemed like such shining stars, and then make people like me–who had to work for my grades, whose asthma made it impossible to run the mile in gym, and who, as a girl, felt physically plain. There weren’t any football players knocking down my door, and though in hindsight, it was probably a good thing, it further solidified how invisible I felt. I became angry with the one who made me this way, God.

“Why didn’t you make me good at anything?” I remember asking Him, from the depths of my heart. “Why did you even make me, if I don’t have anything to offer?”

He didn’t answer with a deafening roar, He didn’t use any words.  He didn’t send me a guardian angel. In fact, He seemed rather silent. But then, opportunities started opening up for me. Before I knew it, I was on student council, youth congress, and taking a photography class. It was as if God was saying “just because you aren’t good at what this girl is good at, doesn’t mean you are talentless and don’t have anything to offer.” I had been so focused on what she could do, that I was missing out on discovering who I am.

Now that I am older, I still find myself at times, falling into similar traps. I meet or get to know a woman, and somehow feel out-shined by her.  Maybe its her clothes, what she does for a living, or how confident she seems on a day I am feeling shaky inside. Whatever it is, in that moment I start to focus on who she appears to be, and I forget all that God has made me to be. When I do this, it is a problem because in my mind, rather than celebrating her identity, I am allowing it to diminish mine. The more I feel diminished, the more I resent the woman standing in front of me, rather than loving her as a fellow human being. Both of our dignities are lessened when my heart is in this place of envy.

But I am learning that there is a different way. The more I seek to know the person God has made me to be, the more I am able to celebrate the good He has put inside of me. The more I am able to do this for myself, the more I am able to celebrate the other bright, shining women that I meet.

And celebrating is always more life-giving than jealousy, don’t you think?