Looking…in all the Wrong Places

In my earlier years in life, I didn’t make the best choices in boyfriends. Sure there were some really cute ones, but at their ages and maturity-levels, they were most interested in themselves and feeding their egos. Naively, I made commitments, gave my heart and remained faithful. And, I got burned.

More than once and much to my chagrin, I discovered additional secret relations with other girls. I wish I could say these times were brought to my attention with healthy discussion that included a break-up before moving on to “her.” Instead, I was being simultaneously juggled with someone else. Perhaps, she was being deceived by the same affectionate lines I was being fed. Likely, we both felt de-valued.

These were heart-breaking, ego-crushing, confidence-robbing experiences that taught me to self-protect in the future. I learned to unhealthily cope by being jealous.

Years later, after meeting my now-husband, he was burdened with the consequences. I questioned his motives, his meetings and nearly every conversation he had with a woman, short of his mother and sisters. It was awful for him, having to defend himself and his character around every corner. But for me, it was protection. I wasn’t going to be blind-sided. No, I was going to be “smarter” this time. I just knew my heart couldn’t take that kind of loss and rejection yet again. I wouldn’t be able to recover.

Jealousy was my way of controlling, because I was afraid to trust. But more than that, I had given too much responsibility for my identity, value and worth to another person. Maybe my gut knew that no human can perfectly handle that responsibility. The truth is, only Jesus is able.

My jealous feelings were a result of insecurity; a belief that there is only so much love and affirmation a person can give, and if shared, there wouldn’t be enough to fill me. In my soul, there was a longing that was put there by my Creator. I had mistakenly misdirected it and not looked to Him, who is solely sufficient and able to quench the thirst.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God set eternity in the human heart. That means He planted a yearning for heaven; for endless days in His presence. Nothing (and nobody) can satisfy that but Him. In John 6:35, Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” He is life; not what we create for ourselves, nor what anyone else does either.

If I dig a little deeper into the depths of His love, I also find these attributes:

God’s love for us is so big and so powerful, we can’t even grasp it as humans.

So, why on earth did I waste so many years of my life being jealous, for fear that I couldn’t get enough love? Quite simply, I was looking for it in all the wrong places. (Feel free to cue the music…)

This year, my husband and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage together. It took me years to grow my faith and to stop patterns of unhealthy thinking; but today, I don’t torture him with interrogations rooted in jealousy. We’re great partners, but we’re not co-dependent, and we often state that one thing we genuinely enjoy about our relationship is the fact that we have lives and interests outside of each other.

This is only made possible through the confidence and love we receive from Christ. Our identities are rooted more in Him than in each other, and we have a lot of fun seeing how He works in each other’s lives. We have very different strengths, so it’s a blast celebrating how those unique gifts can be used. It’s also a huge blessing how we complement and balance one another. We each benefit greatly from the other, but our existence doesn’t depend on it. I don’t need to be jealous, because it doesn’t impact my survival or well-being like it did years ago. The love of Christ fills me today, and my sweet hubby is just the sugar on top.

Will you pray with me?

Lord, thank you for your love. Will you stretch my mind, and help me to comprehend how completely and unconditionally you love me? I pray, Lord, that your love fills the deepest and most hidden corners of my heart. Help me to receive it fully, so that I don’t look to others to do what only You can. Guard my heart against jealous feelings, Lord. Help me to trust Your perfect provision, and please guide those closest to me to point me back to you when I start seeking validation apart from you. Keep me close, Lord, and keep my jealousy at bay. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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