We have a case of trumpet envy going on in our house. This is the first year my oldest daughter can play in the band. She's never played an instrument before and decided she wanted to play the trumpet.
My husband played the trumpet, so we had an old one in our basement. It's not the prettiest trumpet in the world. It has some bumps and dings, and the valve slides are a bit sticky. But it works, and it's paid for.
My daughter was happy with her trumpet and excited at the prospect of getting to play her dad's instrument. Until everyone else opened their trumpet cases in band yesterday.
Last night at dinner our daughter was telling us how ugly her trumpet was compared to everyone else's. Everyone else has a shiny, new trumpet. She told us how much she wished her trumpet was shiny and new, too.
Until yesterday, my daughter was thrilled with her trumpet. But the minute she compared her trumpet to everyone else's trumpet, her excitement about her instrument faded. She let envy strip her of joy.
Envy is one of those emotions that hurts the person feeling it the most. I think that's why God made it one of the 10 Commandments. He knew how destructive it can be. Proverbs 14:30 says "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." That's not a pretty picture, but it's an accurate one.
Envy eats away at us. It steals our contentment and our joy. Nothing good ever comes from envy. It destroys relationships and causes us to make poor choices. Envy can leave us in financial ruin.
Learning to avoid the envy trap is important to maintaining our joy. When envy rears its ugly head in your household, be wise and get rid of it quickly -- before it has time to rot the bones.
- Counteract envy by counting your blessings. When one of your kids is envious of something another person has, take a minute to help them count their own blessings. Ask them to list five things that they do have for which they are thankful. It's hard to have a thankful heart and an envious one at the same time.
- Talk about the difference between envy and desire. It's OK to want something; that's desire. It's not OK to want something so badly that we are unhappy when someone else has it; that's envy. We all have things that we would like to have. It's when that wanting crosses the line to unhappiness that we are letting envy get the upper hand.
- Take a piece of bread and let it sit out until it gets moldy. Show the bread to your kids. Explain that envy is like that mold. The mold takes over the bread until eventually there's nothing left of the bread. Envy can take hold in our hearts and take over until there's no room for anything else.
Envy is a destructive and useless emotion. It steals joy. It hurts relationships. And it takes over our lives.
As my daughter walks out the door with trumpet in hand today, I'll be reminding her of all the beautiful music her trumpet has already made, hoping to slay the envy dragon before it takes hold.
What shards of envy do you need to pluck out of your family's life today?