Most of us aren't drawn into discussions about jealousy as it's a bit of a touchy topic for some reason. But if you are like I am, you've wrestled with it, and you may desire to conquer that green-eyed monster as it rises in your mind and heart--once and for all.
What causes jealousy inside us? It could be stemming from a lack of self-confidence or a poor self-image. At root could also be a fear of rejection, abandonment and displacement. We may feel unwanted, not needed, or worthless. We may be riddled with loneliness, insecurity and distrust. We may find ourselves entangled in a distorted or twisted mindset as we believe lies about ourselves or others. We may not understand true, unconditional love as we focus on ourselves and attempt to control, manipulate, or "possess" others as a means to somehow make them love us.
So what does our imagination have to do with jealousy? Well, in essence, jealousy is aroused when we give way in our thoughts to suspicions and speculations. We willfully engage in an otherwise morbid curiosity and fantasy in a chamber of images, also known as a "room of idols or carved images" (from Eze. 8:12).
In other words, we allow the "imaginations of [our] hearts to run riot" (Psalm 73:7). We may choose to "walk in the way which is not good, following [our] own thoughts" (Isa. 65:2).
Here is an example that I used when we started our discussion on our imagination a couple of blog posts ago: A colleague is flirting with your spouse at an office party, and your spouse seems to be enjoying the attention. Or here's another scenario: your mate seems a bit overly attentive to their cell phone these days and you start wondering why.
In a split second, your thoughts shift to overdrive. You begin to imagine your mate is cheating on you, is unfaithful, is wandering away. You know their attention is going to someone else, better, younger, smarter, funnier, and more positive and energetic. Then, you feel taken advantage of--especially after all you have sacrificed and given to your mate over the years. You are convinced that your mate no longer loves you or cares for you. You know you are losing their affection and love. Your mate can relate better to this new person than they can to you.
You picture your mate with this individual, laughing, having coffee together, exchanging gifts, sharing in the sacredness that belongs only to the two of you. How dare they! Your fears are now mounting to a fever pitch of unbridled anger and resentment. The roar in your head is deafening. You knew you would be abandoned in this way. You suspected your mate would reject you. You, after all, are unwanted, unlovable, and will always be alone. You don't have what it takes to keep your mate.
Talk about a chamber of images.
Whoosh. Where is Rico when we need him? Oh yeah, he's trying to nap, of course!
Seriously though. Do you see what happened? This individual used the power of their imagination in a destructive way and was lured off the rational, responsive road onto a path of speculations, assumptions, and internal reactions to vain imaginings. Sadly, this type of toxic thinking can even lead to violence and abuse. The one caught in the web of toxic fantasies may lose clarity of thought and may say or do things they really don't want to say or do.
God gave us our minds. He tells us to capture our thoughts and vet them on the altar of His Truth. When we don't (no matter the scenario), it is a set-up for discomfort and dis-contentedness.
Goodness, I'm all for healthy boundaries in our relationships, but if you recognize that you are prone to giving way to your toxic thoughts and concluding inaccuracies about yourself and others, it might be time for you to address this issue of jealousy. Often, if left unattended, the results of engaging our imagination is such a harmful way may lead to shame and destruction of self and others and possibly of the very relationships we value so much.
The overarching root is fear, and truly neither you nor I were designed to operate out of fear. The jealous person often does not feel really valued and loved by God in the first place. Sadly, they have forgotten who they are in Christ.
There is a better way, but we must commit to changing.
May we all have the strength and clarity of thought and mind to reject the lies that pop up and dance across the stage of our minds. Instead may we turn to Truth and choose life, light, and forgiveness.
May our stronghold only be the Lord. May we choose to believe what God says about us--really, really believe it. He is our Anchor to help us reorient our minds, to settle us down, and bring us to our knees before Him. He is faithful in His methods, and He will teach us and guide us with every thought along the way if we partner with Him.
I am so grateful that God invites us to do life His way.
We are destroying speculations and
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