Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Jealousy: A Common Emotion We Deal With as Writers By Sondra Kraak


It’s messy, hot, uncomfortable and, well, ugly. 

It eats at the bones. It smolders in the chest. It exhausts the heart. We see another writer get a contract, or another’s book get praised, and jealousy flares within us, and that leads to a sense of competition, and into a spiral of comparison that makes us doubt our calling and gifts. 

Friends, how can we adequately dive into the struggle of jealousy in a 700-word post? We can only play around in the shallows of it, but maybe that will get us looking deeper into our motivations, our fears, and our struggles as writers—as they relate to jealousy.

A Rapid Biblical Overview

Jealousy weaves through the stories of scripture. Rachel is jealous that Leah is bearing more children than her and demands Jacob to give her more children (Genesis 30). Joseph has a dream that his brothers will serve him, and jealousy swells in them until they sell him into slavery (Genesis 37). Israel rebels against Moses and Aaron because they are envious of God’s relationship with Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:3). And all throughout the history of the kings of Israel we see the deep-seated effects of jealousy.

Jealousy is a foundation emotion. Other emotions and attitudes build on it. Jealousy leads to insecurity, distrust, the seeking of control, hatred, bitterness, violence, discord, and grumbling (to list only a few things). 

James, in his epistle to the early church, writes, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight,” (4:2). 

But Sondra, you say, I haven’t killed anyone. I’m glad to hear it. Remember, though, Jesus links the command “do not murder” to anger in the heart. I think that indicts all of us. 

Perhaps we have killed other writers with our gossip, or by withholding encouragement. Perhaps we have harbored ill wishes toward their careers and opportunities or have sown discord in their relationships with other writers or readers. 

Practical Steps for Dealing with Jealousy 

1. Guard your social media use. Social media can be a breeding ground for jealousy, competition, and comparison. Have a plan for how you will engage on your chosen platforms. 

2. Get specific. Write down the names of those that rouse your jealousy, and then pray for them. 

3. Confess the sins that have flowed from your jealousy. Confession leads to cleansing and peace. 

4. Look for ways to build other writers up: reviews, endorsements, tagging them in comments, highlighting them in newsletters, sending them a note. 

5. Stay focused on what God has called you to do. You are accountable to be obedient to the tasks God puts before you, not those he puts before others. I need to remind myself of this often when I become jealous of opportunities that other writers receive. 

The Counterpart: Humility

Jealousy tends to take over how we relate to others, building a wedge in our relationships. The counterpart to this is humility—thinking of ourselves less and seeing ourselves through the perspective of God. 

Paul instructs us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others,” (Philippians 2:3-4). Of course, the reason we are to be humble is because Jesus was humble. We are to imitate our Lord and Savior in how we love and serve others. 

Frankly, this can be difficult in the writing world because we’re taught to focus on platform building and self-promotion. But it is possible, and when we do land ourselves in the soft and abundant place of humility—as opposed to the bitter-inducing place of jealousy—we find that our joy in writing increases and our companionship with other writers flourishes.

When we land in the soft and abundant place of humility (vs jealousy), our joy in writing increases and companionship with other writers flourishes. @SondraKraak @MaryAFelkins #amwriting

Share your wisdom, writer friends. I know I’m not alone in this emotional struggle. How have you overcome jealousy? What are your means for fending off envy? 
Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. 

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