It seems that our little blog experiment with 1 Corinthians 13 is up to “…Love does not envy…” I love how I get to write about the thing that has plagued me more than maybe any other issue in our marriage.
I met Blake McKinney about this time 24 years ago when we were in college. From our earliest experiences together I knew I wanted to be not just around him, but be like him. He was and still is incredibly smart, thoughtful, generous, funny, and self aware. Part of falling in love with him was seeing in him all the things I aspired to be. He was popular, talented, regarded highly by peers and teachers. Most importantly he was extremely serious about his faith. He didn’t preach it, he walked it out in every aspect of his life. I knew he would be both dedicated and successful in whatever he chose to do because God would bless him. When we met, I already had experienced what I believed was a distinct call into some sort of ministry. He wanted to be a clinical psychologist. Eventually, God very obviously spoke to Blake as well about going into full time ministry. We graduated from college and headed out for him to attend seminary. I’m still so proud of him because he received his Masters degree and later earned a Doctor of Ministry. I am now married to Dr. J. Blake McKinney. As proud of him as I am, I have to be honest with you though…sometimes I’ve been a little jealous.
There, I said it. I’ve been jealous of Blake’s opportunities, his education, his successes at times. I know that’s ridiculous, I know that’s shallow, I know that’s a sin. Sadly, I believe this might be an issue in other marriages as well. It often creeps in when one spouse is the primary bread winner while another has chosen to stay home with children. It might happen when one spouse reaches a goal while the other feels a bit unfulfilled at the moment. Whatever the reason, I firmly believe that envy is a tool that Satan uses to wreck ministries and relationships. Envy really means that I want what Blake has, and while he is truly a great role model, God’s call on him is oh so different from God’s call on me. If I want Blake’s successes and opportunities then I’m basically saying that God’s plan for me isn’t good enough. It also says that I’m thinking more about myself than I am about Blake!
So here’s how I personally combat those feelings. I remember the things that poor Blake endures that would make me crazy, and I’m not so envious anymore. For example, Blake is the earthly leader of a large church. That pretty much makes him a middle man for sure…responsible to God first but feeling huge responsibility toward a bunch of different people with different ideas and strongly held opinions. (I will say that our FBCLS family is the easiest congregation for Blake to lead in our 20 plus years of ministry, but still I wouldn’t want that responsibility. Blake, however, thrives in it!) He also is primarily responsible for our finances, which would be a disaster in my hands. Blake is currently the homework parent because our boys take classes I don’t understand. (I’m pretty sure when kindergarten starts next year Blake will gladly give me a little more responsibility in the homework area, and I’m better at coloring anyway!) He’s the official primary pet caregiver because slimy fish gross me out. Hardest of all, he is usually the one to keep me from losing it when life inevitably doesn’t go the way I planned it. When I think about all the responsibility Blake shoulders, even the idea of being envious of him makes me laugh! I do not want his calling. For our family to maintain any sense of health Blake has to do his part while I do my part. For either of us to claim the other’s role would be disastrous and hilarious.
I think, after about 20 years of struggling with envious thoughts off and on, I’ve learned a thing or two about how Satan works on me. If I’m envious then my thoughts are fixed on me and what I believe I deserve. However, when I love Blake the way Christ loves me, I’m thinking more about Blake than myself. Envy really is such a pride problem, and pride has no place in marriage. I believe that’s what Ephesians 5:21 is talking about! If I’m submitting to Blake it doesn’t mean I’m doing what he tells me to do, it means that I’m putting his needs before mine, and I’m thinking about him more than myself. When I think about all he’s responsible for, how could I do anything other than pray for him and be so thankful and supportive. There is NO room for envy when I’m putting him first because I’m not even thinking about myself.
What does your spouse shoulder that would be a complete burden if you were responsible for that? Don’t envy him or her but pray for God to give him or her His strength in that responsibility!
So that’s how I’ve become no longer envious of Blake’s opportunities. I pray for him, I thank God for him, I try to make his load a little lighter by doing my part and not his. It’s actually very “load lightening” for me too, because being envious is exhausting!