How Resentment Clues Us In
We’re well into summer and the Facebook posts and Instagram pictures are bursting forth with other people’s glorious lives. Their vacations. Their beach bodies. Their perfect families. And it can be easy to feel resentful of others seemingly easier or better lives.
It must be nice to spend a week in Europe.
It must be nice to be taking your kids on their second Disney World trip.
It must be nice to make enough money that you can pay off debt that quickly.
It must be nice that you’re a stay-at-home mom and have all that time to do fun summer activities.
It must be nice that you’re working and getting a break from your kids and you can afford a boat.
It must be nice to have the kind of time on your hands to “simplify” your life.
It must be nice for your pregnancy weight to melt off without effort.
It must be nice to be able to afford a gym membership and have a spouse who willingly watches the kids while you go.
It must be nice that your husband has a cushy enough job that you get to stay home and homeschool your kids.
It must be nice that you have family nearby to help you out with your kids.
It must be nice to have the time and money for a babysitter to have a weekly date night.
It must be nice to have parents who paid for your college so you don’t have to struggle with debt.
In her book, Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist discusses this “Must be nice…” feeling that tempts us all. She says that jealously is a great teacher. And it is. So many times as Christians we think there are two possible reactions to emotions: ignore them or indulge them.
But in reality, there is a third, more helpful way to deal with emotions: get curious about them. When we get curious about our emotions they teach us so much about ourselves, our lives, and our relationships. When we know the story we’re telling ourselves, we can rumble with it and get to the bottom of it (I’m using a lot of Brené Brown language here. Check out her excellent book Rising Strong for more details.)
So when I find myself thinking “It must be nice…” I realize it’s a clue to get to know myself better. I ask myself what I’m feeling jealous about. I explore the difference between resentment and reality. I go back to our core family values. I remember to celebrate who God made me to be, including my inherent limitations. And I remember that all people and places and circumstances can teach me to be grateful for something.
How do you handle the “Must be nice…” thoughts in your life?
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