Laura Roland shares 3 strategies for protecting yourself against the spiritual attacks of comparison and envy.
Last week I ended up weeping at my kitchen table. The kind of ugly cry from the depth of your soul, the kind that makes you hiccup. Snot-bubble crying. Unhinged a bit.
It is not a pretty look for me, or anyone really. But I’m fighting a demon I thought I had already conquered, and it only took one misunderstanding for me to spiral back into that abyss. I should’ve seen it coming; I haven’t been guarding my heart lately.
As I lay awake that night, clutching my rosary for dear life, all the ugly – and untrue – triggers came roaring back to the surface. They go something like this: “No one ever asks me what I want, and I’ve gotten so used to no one asking that I don’t even know if I have a desire anymore Lord. I’m so tired of doing what others think I should be doing; what the world tells me I should be doing. Am I really that unworthy, that uninteresting, that over-look-able Lord? Because if I am, I’m done. I cannot bear seeing one more woman doing what I want to be doing but can’t, looking the way I want to look but don’t. Why do you put these people in my life Lord? I can’t compete and I’m so angry that you would even make me try. Do you really despise me that much that you want me this unhappy?”
In case you didn’t recognize it, this is what envy and comparison sound like when they take over an unguarded heart.
I’ve learned over the years that God is fine with my anger. I used to never allow myself to get angry with Him. Obedient daughters never talk back to their fathers. But I’m older now and the Lord and I have had many of these sessions. He understands my need to break a bit and I’ve come to trust that it is only when I allow the anger out, that I make room for Him to bind those wounds – again, and again and again.
He’s good that way.
These feelings of unworthiness. Of ordinariness. Of comparison and envy. On the surface they annoy me, and I feel like I’m just whining. But what I have come to understand is that they stem from a deep place of fear and woundedness. And those my friend are not of God. Those are of the enemy, and he is particularly good at using them at just the right time to get to whatever will lay you low the quickest.
In my ministry, I have the beautiful privilege of sharing life stories with women in all stages and seasons of life. When we speak about the idea of plans and purpose, goals, and dreams, inevitably the conversation turns to feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt, fear, ordinariness. God can’t possible really have a plan for us, could He? It is uncanny how the timing of the attacks (and I do believe it to be an attack) usually occurred at the point when, feeling hopeful, we let our self-care slide a bit.
So, what do we do about this? How do we guard our hearts so that we aren’t laid low just when God needs us the most?
There are 3 things these women recommended we can do to guard our hearts. While not an exhaustive list by any means, if you are struggling with the same feelings as we have, perhaps one of these actions will help you find a bit hope and you can take one step forward toward God’s plan for you again.
This is crucial to our well-being. Physical rest and emotional rest allow us to restore our bodies and minds. Rest can take many forms and as one of my dear friends once told me, “Laura, I know you love nothing more than watching countless episodes of NCIS and eating an entire bag of salt and vinegar potato chips in one sitting. But is that really making you feel rested or is it avoidance? Rest brings you a sense of wellness, of wholeness, balance. Do you really feel that way 6 hours and an empty bag later?” I’m still working on that answer for her. Finding something that brings you that sense of wellness when you’ve never thought it before can be a challenge, but it is critical to guarding your heart.
Have a plan for your day.
A spiritual plan that is. A plan that includes time for prayer each day. To be honest, this is a new concept for me, but as I have shifted my thinking from, I need to make time in my day for prayer to I will fit my work and personal life into my spiritual plan for my day, I find I am more at peace knowing I’ve got time with the Lord already scheduled. This time strengthens my relationship with the Him, and I am better able to hear Him over the noise of the world that tries to shout Him out.
Give yourself permission.
Whatever you need to forgive yourself for, give yourself permission to do just that. For me, I am learning to give myself permission to make choices around fitness. My weight is a constant struggle, and I need to be active. But I also love my work and the two constantly vie for my time. Learning to give myself permission to make a choice about how and when I am active has bolstered my feeling of worthiness and acceptance.
With these 3 things in place, I’m learning that God and I together know best and the broken pieces of that unguarded heart are being put back together in a new and beautiful way.
Copyright 2021 Laura Roland
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About the Author
Laura K. Roland is a cradle Catholic. She and her husband of 31+ years have 3 children and have recently added a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law to their ever-growing family. A former Catholic educator, she co-founded the women’s ministry Encounter Grace in 2018 and is a speaker, writer, mentor, and host of the new podcast, Short Story Longer.