She stole my patient. That was my exaggerated reaction when a fellow resident in medical school used the data I had collected about the unique medical condition of one of my patients. She included my patient in her academic paper and didn’t even ask me! How dare she?
Medical residents who publish case studies are often showered with affirmation, and this colleague was a talented writer pursuing an academic career. I envied her for being special, unique, set apart. From my perspective, her success was at my expense. Thus, my indignation at her “stealing” my patient data.
But the only one stealing from me was myself. My envy stole the joy of a calling and vocation that God fashioned uniquely for me. I imagined that my colleague’s academic accolades somehow diminished my focus on patient care and a more “ordinary” path of medical practice. Instead of celebrating both of our accomplishments, I was blinded by the light of her seemingly superior achievements.
Yet, the “ordinariness” of how God shaped me was exactly what made for a successful practitioner of dermatology. My name didn’t shine in the lights of academic journals. I didn’t have mountaintop experiences or worldwide acclaim. But my relationship with patients and the consistent, detail-oriented care I provided for them was valuable and life-saving in some cases. Longing for recognition and envying those who achieved something I considered more worthy negated my gifts and denied my unique – albeit more “ordinary” – contribution to the world.
My relationship with Christ now grants me freedom from the desire to be something I’m not. Rather than allowing envy to suck the joy from my life, I can embrace the path that my good, loving Creator fashioned uniquely for me. Instead of resenting the light shining on others, I can bask in the light of God’s face shining on me and appreciate life as a gift from Him. As I do, I not only return what I stole from myself in envy, but I give the gift of myself to the world.
Have you ever robbed yourself of joy in envy? How would you rethink your own story now?
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Beautifully written Shauna. Don’t you ever forget what God did by bringing you into my life during such a traumatic time, to allow you to share not only your quiet faithfulness, but connecting me to the wonderful grief counseling thru Sheila London. You are both equally weighted in my book of “That Was A God Thing”! My prayers are with your family tonite as you remember your father in laws Godly life.
Thank you, Denise. Hearing the healing work the Lord has done in you and seeing pieces of the work He is doing through you to love on the world, brings me to worship. Phil and I are graced with beautiful friendships like yours which uplift us mightily during this difficult time. I am deeply grateful for your kind words.
Shauna, I decided to take a moment to read your essay and want you to know that you have simply and wonderfully articulated what we all need to learn and be reminded about. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to keep this to share with others. Keep sharing from your life. You are appreciated.
Thank you so much, Daryl. My prayer is that, through sharing a bit of myself, others would be blessed and drawn into deeper reflection. Your kind words are a gift. Tim Keller’s sermon “The Evil of Envy” is a great resource that the Lord used powerfully toward my own growth. https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/the-evil-of-envy-5385/.