Jealousy vs. grace

“…Whatever blesses one, blesses all….”
— Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve been thinking about this today in the context of jealousy.

Too often, we fail to realize that “whatever blesses one, blesses all,” and we find ourselves looking at another’s success with envy or frustration.

I encountered this kind of thinking in a recent conversation, when someone tried to attribute a success of mine to favoritism rather than merit. I’m not sure exactly what her problem was, but I suspect she was jealous of me because she’d been feeling underappreciated.

I wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so I couldn’t offer her any words of wisdom to make her feel better. But in thinking about it later, I remembered an experience I’d had that taught me a lot about the nature of jealousy and the power of grace.

A few years ago, a colleague and I both applied for a promotion at work. I didn’t get the promotion. My colleague did. On her first day in her new position, I bought her a balloon bouquet to congratulate her.

She was utterly floored when she came back and found it on her desk. Office politics, jealousy, posturing, and passive-aggressive nonsense so often rule the day that she was genuinely shocked by my supportive attitude.

But how could I be jealous of her? In order to be jealous, I would have had to believe that her success was somehow depriving me of a blessing — as if God didn’t have enough goodness to go around, so He’d just blessed her and left me out. I knew that wasn’t possible. Whatever blesses one, blesses all, so if I didn’t get the promotion, that just meant God had something else in mind for me.

I was right: A short time later, I was transferred to another office, where I soon found myself promoted to a management position I absolutely loved, with a staff I adored. I worked there for several years, and I’m convinced that I’m a better teacher as a result of the experiences I had as a manager in that office.

It’s easy to be jealous or feel left out when someone else succeeds — especially if that person’s success comes in a form we would like to experience. But in the end, Mrs. Eddy is right: Whatever blesses one of us will end up blessing all of us. We just have to pay attention so we’re aware of the blessing when it arrives.


UPDATE: Just noticed that the wrong title had ended up on this post. Sorry for any confusion. (That’s what I get for multitasking….) Title and hyperlink are updated now.