She was the latest and greatest: Rub-A-Dub dolly, the baby doll you could bathe in the bathtub. You could even wash her hair. I loved her with all the fervent devotion of a four-year old and I would lovingly comb her wet, messy “doo” with my little fingers after every bath.
However the eyes of envy were watching this delightful relationship, and pretty soon my little two-and-a-half year old sister wailed her deep sorrow. You see, she didn’t have a Rub-A-Dub dolly of her own.
It wasn’t that she was a neglected second daughter – my sister had many dolls and stuffed animals of her own. But no Rub-A-Dub. That is until she kidnapped mine and made such a dramatic fuss that my poor parents decided that it would be easier for all involved if my sister also had a Rub-A-Dub dolly. Unfortunately their strong-willed toddler decided that mine would do just fine, so when the new doll arrived in the mail, it was assigned to me. My sister got my doll. With the lovingly messed up hair. Suddenly the one I held was nothing more than a piece of plastic. There was no connection, no love. She wasn’t mine.
I’m not really sure why, decades later, my sister and I both remember that incident so vividly. It set the stage for yet another kidnapping years later by my youngest sister, who decided she must have my beloved “Ly”, a lion stuffed animal. Once again I lost. And such is life within a family of three young girls, close in age and ever comparing their toy boxes to see who has what and why and what we should have instead.
As we grew though, we learned to play together and to share, and the jealousy over petty things soon lay almost dormant in us all. Unfortunately, like a waking dragon in a far off cave, it stirred one day and reappeared, more powerful and dangerous than ever. This time it was no longer toys or clothes that were envied. Suddenly I found myself envying my younger sisters looks and personality.
She had long, silky blond hair – I had frizzy brown hair. She had a bubbly outgoing personality – I blushed if the teacher even called my name. And as we grew and popularity with the boys became more important, I realized that her assets were scoring higher points than mine. In fact I was becoming invisible.
Now I knew that God had gifted me with pretty green eyes and a creative personality, but these were “quiet” sorts of gifts, and my sisters gifts were “loud”, always getting the attention. Not too many people ever got close enough to see the hidden treasures in me, and so I began to believe they were really not worth much at all. I wanted my sisters gifts. I began, in my own quiet way, to throw a tantrum at God.
How come she got all the good stuff? Blond hair, curves, confidence, straight teeth… Did He love her more than He loved me? Where were my good looks? What happened to my bold, fun personality? Did He forget about me?
Slowly I began to utterly despise who I was, because I was so contrary to my sister, and yet I believed that I must be like her in order to be happy. Just like she had believed she couldn’t be happy without my doll. Only this was a little more complicated than stealing a Rub-A-Dub. If your happiness depends on you being someone else, you are going to be miserable for a long time.
You can only be who God has made you to be.
Anything else is a fake.
Sadly in my fragile teenage years, I took the fake over the genuine, and then hated myself all the more for my hypocrisy. I refused to be who God had made me, and tried to create a new Kelly who I thought people would like more and who would get the attention I thought I wanted.
If you are getting attention when you aren’t really being yourself, here’s a news flash: they don’t really like YOU. In fact they don’t even KNOW you. And that’s not their fault – you have hidden yourself away and produced a fake. That type of attention will never satisfy.
But back to the dragon.
How can we be rid of jealousy and envy? How can we learn to be satisfied with what we were given and stop looking at what everyone else has instead?
Enter the knight in shining armor called: Gratitude.
I know it may sound simplistic, but I promise if you begin living this way you will start to accept, value and even like yourself.
For my self-hater club members out there – just find one thing about yourself you like, and give thanks for it. Start there. This honestly took me years, so I certainly don’t mean to act like it’s an easy thing to do. It’s a complete and total mind shift.
See, we are conditioned to think that some things are better than others, more desirable than others. Society teaches that by rewarding certain traits more than others.
I can attest to the fact that beautiful people get more attention, they get freebies, they don’t wait in line at the club, they get all the guys – even the sweet sensitive ones – and they don’t even care when they break their hearts. And the plain lonely girls watch quietly, sinking in their despair, cursing humanity for being so shallow.
My new friends would introduce me to others and say “But have you met her sister? She is absolutely gorgeous! She looks nothing like Kelly.” I interpreted that as meaning I was the antithesis of my sister. Guys would get to know me just to get introduced to my sister. They would talk to me at parties just to tell me how amazing my sister was and why wouldn’t she consider them since they would be so perfect for her, blah blah blah.
She was a grade behind me in school, but I had to change schools my senior year just to put some distance between us. I didn’t know how to live in her shadow.
Inner beauty gets very little applause from society. Only others with inner beauty – those who have had to dig in order to find it because it didn’t lay on the surface – only they also have an appreciation for it.
But jealousy blots out inner beauty, covering it with sour envy and withering the spirit. Like a dragon it will scorch everything in its path. You are truly left with nothing.
I was so full of this jealousy that I would cry hot tears of hatred alone in my room at night. And not knowing where to direct it, I turned all of my hatred on myself, blaming myself for being who I was.
Jealousy is EVIL people! It will make you MISERABLE! Don’t let it stay another day!
You may not have two beautiful blond sisters, but there are things that you have looked at and coveted…wanted…felt almost angry that you did NOT have. It may be a relationship that seems so perfect, or a job, or a stable home, or a beautiful ring. And you will know it is jealousy because suddenly the sky will darken, and your own ring, or job, or relationship will lose its luster. From that point on what you have pales in comparison with what they have. And you aren’t even happy for them. You wonder why them and not you… that’s the dragon. And it will never be satisfied if you start feeding it.
Fiercely fight it back with loving gratitude for who you are and what you have!
Whoever you are, you are RICH in gifts, both inner and outer blessings. You are amazing and beautiful and valued – for WHO YOU ARE. You don’t need to change or have what someone else has. It won’t make you happy!
The only thing that will satisfy is living an AUTHENTIC life, fully living as none other than you, WONDERFUL YOU, empowered and unleashed on the world.
So THANK YOU for my frizzy hair.
Thank you for my skinny legs.
Thank you for my creative, thoughtful mind.
Because it’s all mine. It is God’s gift to me, to get me through this life. It’s all I need and more.
Thank you for awakening me to myself.
And after years of practicing this gratitude, I can honestly say it works. The cave is empty. The dragon is gone.
I have peace.
May you also!