Have you ever really looked at yourself in the mirror?
The other day I was brushing my teeth and I started looking at myself in the mirror. I know that seems like a normal part of everyone else’s day but in all honesty, I never look at myself in the mirror. It’s not a self-conscious thing, its more of a waste of time to me. I mean anytime I am not standing in front of mirror I can’t see what I look like so why I would care when I am standing in front of a mirror is beyond me.
Anyway, as I stood there looking at myself in the mirror I began to realize that my facial hair was not nearly as full as I thought it was. There are these massive gaps between my chin hair and cheek hair and it looks awful. So, like any responsible adult who works in the corporate world, I walked away and forgot all about it. By the time I had finished getting ready for work I had completely forgotten about it and soon I was on my way to the client site.
It was a couple of hours later that something clicked for me. I was the literal embodiment of James 1:23-24.
“23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” – James 1:23-24
If I am being honest these verses apply to me outside of the literal context of walking away from the mirror every morning. I have this amazing ability to ignore my faults and failures. Case in point, I get jealous of other people’s circumstances a lot.
This week I had to order a phone for a client because she broke her iPhone. So, I opened their Verizon account and called her with her options. Her phone was still locked into their corporate contract, so she had two options; repair the phone for 200 bucks or buy a new one full retail for 899. Without missing a beat, she wanted a new phone. So thus, she threw her 1-year old phone in a drawer and bought the new phone.
Later I went onsite to setup her phone for her and she started talking about her new home she just bought. She is in her early twenties and bought a home in my area that costs twice as much as my house. She then stated the kitchen wasn’t up to snuff, so she is currently having it renovated. Her dad owns the company that is our client and after work that day she was flying down to the Florida Keys on the company jet for the weekend because she “just desperately needed to unplug”.
I got jealous.
I mean it took me almost two weeks to settle on paying 300 bucks for an old iPhone to replace my broken phone after trying to use it for months. Furthermore, I would also love a new kitchen. Actually, I would prefer a basement that doesn’t leak and as long as we are being honest I too desperately need to unplug.
As I sat configuring her email account on her phone, I began to recognize my jealousy and thus mustered all the will power I could find to try desperately to emulate Christ for the remainder of our encounter. I resolved in the moment not to allow petty things like jealousy dictate my mood, interactions or attitude. There are so many things I have been blessed with that others have not that it is so disrespectful to complain or live in jealousy.
Except it wasn’t. Later in the week I was sitting in a staff meeting for work when my coworker started talking about the new house he was building. He started rattling off different “high end finishes” they were adding to the build and right on cue I got jealous. Out of jealousy, and a little curiosity, I asked how in the world he could afford it. “Between student loans, car payments, mortgage and insurance I would never have enough to spend 40k on a bathroom shower that steams.” I said.
“Well I don’t have any student loans and my dad bought me this car for my birthday, so my monthly expenses are relatively low.” He responded.
Instantly the wave of frustration, jealousy and injustice spread through my bones. I sat there thinking about how much I would give to not have student loans or to have our cars paid off.
I’d like to say that I immediately came out of that fit of jealousy as well as before, but it’s not true. I spent the last two or three weeks living into it actually. Every time something bad happened this week I jealously thought of “other people” who didn’t have such petty issues like mine. I mean EVERY TIME. For instance, the dentist told me I had a cavity and I got mad at “other people” who don’t have cavities.
It wasn’t until sitting down today to write this post that I realize how bad my jealous attitude had gotten. Yet, to me the worst part about this situation wasn’t living into jealousy, it was how quickly I forgot “what I looked like”.
In the beginning of the week I knew jealousy was an emotion I was dealing with and was something I desperately needed God’s help to conquer, but when I was confronted with it again later in the day I ignored this reality. I replaced it with what I thought I “looked like”. In this new replaced version of myself, I didn’t struggle with jealousy rather the world was unfairly stacked against me.
This mentality of the world stacked against me has been one that I have dealt with all my life. It is most likely were the jealousy in my life comes from. I have often felt that I didn’t get a fair shot at life like everyone else did because of the troubles my family went through growing up. It’s a thought pattern that is so destructive to my attitude and interactions with others that I have constantly had to actively fight these thoughts. So, I should have recognized immediately what was going on inside my brain, but instead I simply ignored it. I walked away from the reelection of my true self and forgot what I looked like.
It is amazing to me how quickly I can substitute the reality that surrounds me for the one that suits me better.