Confessions: Jealousy Sunday, Oct 14 2007 

I would like to reiterate the point of me doing these confessions: to show others that they are not alone in their struggles. It occured to me recently that it could seem like I am trying to minimise my own sin or make it seem attractive. I just wanted to clarify that sin is always life-destroying, evil and deserving of punishment. The only reason I am able to talk about my sin without shame is because Jesus died, rose again and paid for it.

With that, I will now share something that has caused a lot of pain for me and for others. It has almost destroyed relationships and has blinded me at times I most needed to see.

Jealousy.

One particular instance (spread over a few years) comes to mind.

I had a crush on a guy for a long time and I grew very jealous of other girls who would show him attention. In my thinking at the time, he belonged to me and the other girls should have backed off (despite him not being aware of this).

Over time I became bitter and paranoid in my relationships with these other girls. My only motivation for talking with them was to find out what their intentions were or distract them from talking to this particular guy. There was nothing genuine about the way I related to them. Our friendship, for me, existed on the basis of competition.

I remember a time when I actually felt sick to my stomach from all that had been going on. I poured out my feelings into my journal, begging God to take away the pain. It felt like everywhere I turned, she was with him; laughing, playfully touching his arm, posing for a photo. Every happy moment between them increased my agony. That’s what jealousy does – it stops you from caring about the wants and needs of others. It makes you completely inwardly focused.

I should mention that these things happened with two different girls, at two different times….same guy. The sad thing is, the situation basically repeated itself and I didn’t take the hint that the common denominator was me. I was the cause of the problems. I did recognise that I was struggling with jealousy the second time, but I don’t think I truly wanted to let go. Looking back on my journal entries from the more recent of the two times, I felt ashamed of my jealousy and I thought that ignoring the whole situation (even in my own diary) would make the problem go away. In hindsight, I think that made things worse. If I had been able to let go of my pride and truly share my problem with someone, it probably would have helped in overcoming it.

It hurts even now to remember the thick cloud of jealousy which hovered around me for so long. I thought I was completely justified in feeling hurt, annoyed and resentful.

When things started to develop with my boyfriend (not the same guy) earlier this year, I found that these other girls were great, godly friends I could confide in and go to for advice. What had my jealousy caused me to miss out on before, in the friendship of these young women? What could I have given to them if I hadn’t been so distracted by competing for attentions?

More recently, I have found myself developing jealous feelings towards others in my Christian community because of roles they have. It’s easy sometimes to feel like it’s a personal attack on me whenever I am not chosen to do something.

I have envied (is envy the same as jealousy?) the romantic relationships of others, comparing them to my own. I recall writing to God in my journal one day, something to the effect of: “I know they have problems, Lord, but why can’t my problems be more like theirs? Then I would be able to trust you.” That seems pretty ridiculous, even to me, but I can’t deny that jealousy is still a real battle for me. I can’t deny that I have to daily fight off these feelings and horrible thoughts.

If you know me and you think I might be behaving out of jealous motives on anything, please challenge me.

Confessions: Gossip Tuesday, Oct 2 2007 

Here’s a sin that I do probably more than I want to admit. The problem is… well, there’s lots of problems, but I was going to say that this is so deeply ingrained in my culture that it’s hard to let go of, let alone admit I’m doing the wrong thing. Other than this, problems include the deceitfulness of the heart, my own ability to lie to myself, the fact that gossip can be fun and it makes me feel good about myself.

I think, for me, gossip is not a conscious attempt to put others down, at least most of the time. I often do it because I’m in a group of friends who suddenly start talking about someone else, and I feel that I have a “valuable” contribution to make. Other times I initiate the gossip because I want validation of an opinion I have about someone. Example: A certain tutor seemingly never knows what they’re talking about, so I complain to my fellow students about the fact that we’re not getting our money’s worth out of our education. Suddenly, everyone has something nasty to add to the conversation and we’re in a full-blown gossip session.

I’m not condoning these reasons: far from it, I’m trying to explore why I continue to gossip even though I know it’s wrong.

I remember a time at uni where I was talking with 3 girlfriends between classes. We were casually discussing our upcoming assignments when the conversation turned to other students at the uni. There was one particular girl who we all seemed to have bad experiences with – the kind who is easy to really get stuck into. And I went for it. I pulled out everything I had from late assignments to stupid answers. Suddenly there was a slight pause, and I felt a bit guilty. The conversation followed a bit like this:

Girl A: “She never even came to class much last semester, I don’t know how she passed.”

Girl B: “I know. She was away for, like, six weeks right in the middle. Who does that?”

At this point, already feeling enough conviction to stop, I almost choked. You see, I knew EXACTLY why she had been away for six weeks in the middle of semester. And it was surely the most gossip-worthy piece of information I had ever come across in my life. It was the most juicy, tantalising, gasp-inducing morsel ever known to man.

I knew, however, that to share it would be going directly against God, who was heavily speaking to me through my consciense at that point. So I bit my lip and kind of grunted.

The conversation died and eventually turned to the topic of creepy men on trains…

But it was so painful. I’m ashamed to say that, but it was REALLY HARD to hold back.

It also made me realise that I really have a problem with this. For the first time, I couldn’t deny that I had said damaging things; that I had gossiped about someone who would have called me a friend. It forced me to look in the mirror and admit that it wasn’t all beautiful.

Another type of gossip that I do sometimes, but can be harder to identify, is “prayer-gossip”.

“Could you please pray for so-and-so, he’s really struggling with X at the moment.”

“I’ve been praying for A and B a lot, do you know how they’re going with …?”

“I’m really worried about Miss L, I saw her doing *****. We really need to be praying for her.”

Now, I’m not saying that all these things would be wrong all the time, but I know I have said these things at least once, and my motives were NOT pure. Really I just wanted to talk about other people.

I guess this is a tricky one because we do need to be praying for people, but maybe if we ask others to pray, we can stay brief on the details so it doesn’t become gossip.

I can’t remember where I read this recently, but someone wrote that there is a difference between gossiping and seeking counsel. Seeking counsel is looking for a solution to, not confirmation of, your problem with a person. Gossiping is jsut going round and round discussing the person, with no one really directing the conversation in godliness (although, it was probably stated more eloquently wherever I read it).

This has been a good principle for me because I think there are circumstances where we genuinely need advice and help, we can’t keep it to ourselves. I need to make sure that I choose someone to talk to who will challenge my assumptions and not let me get away with saying unnecessary comments.

In the Old Testament, Proverbs has a lot to say about gossip, including:

“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”

-Proverbs 16:28

The New Testament lists gossip among other sins:

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

-Romans 1:28-32

 

How do you define gossip? And do you have any strategies for stopping this sin?