…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

The Peace of Them That Make Peace

Eliminating Envy

By Rex Goode


Envy and Strife

Few things are more destructive to healthy living than envy. Envy seems such a general thing that it’s hard to apply to it the usual Latter-day Saint cultural assignations of seriousness. You know what I mean. We like to know how much more serious one sin is than another. It’s hard to do that with envy, because it takes so many forms and is behind so many outward sins. It is an inward sin because it describes something deeper than the behaviors it triggers. Envy leads us to do so many things, not the least of which is to be ungrateful to God for the special set of blessings he has given each of us according to our needs.

Here are some examples of the evils of envy:

  • Lying and saying that we have things, attributes or possessions, that we don’t have so as to make ourselves feel better or elevate ourselves in the eyes of others.
  • Complaining about our misfortunes and being ungrateful.
  • Ill will towards those we perceive as being more blessed.
  • Defaming those we envy in order to feel superior or make them look bad to others.
  • Taking things that do not belong to us or expecting things that we have not earned.
  • Contention.

The Roman Catholic Church places it among the seven deadly sins. I think it deserves that place. I also think they have placed it well to correspond to kindness as its opposing virtue. It seems to me that there is no better antidote to envy than kindness with gratitude being the resulting blessing.

In my life, I am far from immune from envy. I often see something another possesses and resent it that I don’t have the same thing. I think that the worst thing for me is how I struggle and struggle to keep a roof over my family’s head and never seem to get anywhere. It has always been difficult and it seems like the Lord intends for me to always struggle that way.

Another area where I struggle with feeling envy is for men who are fit. As a child, I was scrawny. As an adult, I’m morbidly obese. The transition from beanpole to pleasantly overplump did not pass through fitness. My stepfather thought I was dying of malnutrition when I was 16. By the time I was 19, I was fighting the belly war.

Throughout all of those years, I couldn’t see a fit man with a healthy weight without experiencing envy. As I have learned about the effects of envy, it is not surprising that envy so easily turns to lust. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that my experiences with same-sex attraction can be simply explained away as envy that turns to lust.  Same-sex attraction is far more complex for me than that. Yet, I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit a strong correlation.

Since my youthful days of sexual acting out to my adult years of faithfulness to my wife and the teachings of the Church, I always felt myself inferior to other men. I always envied other men. And, yes, I lusted after them too.

About fifteen years ago, something changed and it has made an enormous difference. I found my first on-line support group called Disciples. Where once I struggled alone and in silence, I was finally able to find others who understood what it was like to experience same-sex attraction as a faithful, active Latter-day Saint.

As I began to open up to others and allow them to open up to me, I experienced a camaraderie I had never before known.  At the same time, I found my kindness. I had never realized before what an angry man I was. A childhood filled with abuse had engendered such rage in me.

One of the issues I explored was my envy for other men. I was obsessed with it. I often wasted my lunch hours away in the company cafeteria just watching men with lust and envy. I was in therapy at the time, and my therapist, Terry Robrecht, helped me to understand a fundamental truth. He helped me to see that the ravages of childhood abuse was behind my views about men and myself. He helped me be kind to myself about the things I was experiencing.

It gives new meaning to the phrase from the Primary song, “Kindness begins with me.” I think I’ve found out that it is impossible to be kind to others if I am unkind to myself.

Having figured that out, I became free to be kinder to others. For me, a large part of kindness is tolerance. The Christian virtue of recognizing that we all fall short of the glory of God in some way and that none of us is better than another goes a long way toward feeling kindness.

Through kindness, I was able to see others as not better and as not possessing more. I saw them as brothers and sisters all striving to navigate life with their own challenges. If I can offer some relief or comfort with a healthy dose of love, it becomes extremely difficult for envy to exist at the same time.

The strange thing is, I can still recognize things that another person has that I don’t. I just don’t place the same importance on the differences as I once did.

I like what the apostle James wrote:

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:16–18).

In showing kindness to others, we overcome envy which makes us gentle and easy to be intreated. It makes us merciful and tolerant. It makes us peaceful and makes peace with others.

I continue to seek for ways to be more kind. When envy arises, I try to remind myself that those I envy have their pains and disappointments too.  Being kind to them will quiet the envy in me.

5 people like this post.

One Response to “The Peace of Them That Make Peace”

  1. Melissa Marriott said:

    So glad you didn’t put a picture of MY kids fighting over toys.

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