By Kristen Gulling
I have to make a confession--I might be slightly obsessed with Facebook. There are many problems with this, not the least of which is the very real phenomenon called “Facebook Envy.” Please don’t misunderstand. I enjoy seeing all the pictures of my friends, their attractive spouses, their gifted children, and their amazing vacations. Honestly, the only things I don’t love seeing on Facebook are pictures of food and hateful political posts.
But when I see all those great posts from my friends, it’s hard not to get jealous.
My friends clearly are living better and more fulfilling lives than I am. I find myself becoming envious of the “perfect lives” I see portrayed and as a result, I spend time and energy focusing on what I don’t have rather than appreciating what I do have. Sometimes, I may not hit the “like” button, even though I know I should.
I’m not really sure how I arrived at this point or when I noticed that my Facebook Envy really became problematic but it seems as though this has definitely become an issue. I know that life isn’t fair. There are always (and will always be) those who have more or who seem to have it all together, while others, like myself, seem to be continuously struggling.
It’s difficult not be envious.
I’m not proud of the envy I feel toward others. I know envy is ugly. I know that it burdens me, causes anxiety and prevents me from realizing the blessings in front of me. Buddha said, “He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.” Feelings of envy keep me wanting what I don’t have and prevent me from being truly happy. I know all this and yet, I’m not sure how to take control of these feelings.
In today’s gospel, Jesus addresses envy.He tells the parable of the landowner looking for workers for his vineyards.
The landowner went out first thing in the morning and hired workers, promising to pay them the fair daily wage. He then went out two more times later that day, each time promising the workers a fair wage. At the end of the day, when it came time to pay the workers those who were hired last, who had only worked one hour, received the same wage as those who were hired first, who had put in a full day of labor.
Naturally, the workers who were hired in the morning were angry and felt that they had been cheated.
It wasn’t fair that the last workers received the same pay as they did because they didn’t deserve it. However, Jesus pointed out the workers hired first weren’t cheated. They were given the fair daily wage that was promised them. The landowner said to these workers, “Are you envious because I am generous?”
Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am envious. Everyone receives God’s love and gifts but there are times when I don’t think others deserve the same gifts. However, today’s gospel points out that I am called to be generous just as the landowner was generous. I don’t “lose out” because God has been equally generous to undeserving people. He is still generous with me. I know that I am not without many blessings and love.
True happiness comes when I am able to find the gift in the hardship.
The gospel reminds me to rejoice and be grateful for what I have been given as well to celebrate others’ good fortunes. No one has a perfect life. Everyone has unique blessings and opportunities, as well as struggles and crises. To be a truly loving person, as Jesus was, requires that I respect and admire others and their gifts. Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet and author, said, “Learning not to envy someone else’s blessings is what grace looks like.”
I am called to live a life of love, generosity and grace.
Keeping in mind the lesson Jesus taught in the gospel today, I have begun a 12 step treatment program for Facebook Envy. The first step? Hitting the “like” button more frequently.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristin is a HR Adviser with the Department of Defense and a part-time personal trainer. She's committed to living a healthy life and loves helping others do the same. Fitness is her passion and she spends her free time boxing, lifting weights, and practicing yoga. But she's happiest when spending time with her three adult sons, Patrick, Brendan and Jack.