This year I am learning about rage. And emotion. And paranoia and jealousy. Doesn’t that sound delightful? It’s amazing the things you find in yourself; it makes you feel Iike a real blue ribbon prize.
Jealousy. I’m not talking about the holy jealousy that describes God as ‘the consuming fire.’ I am talking about the sin of jealousy, particularly the dangers of jealousy in a marriage. Lets examine this:
Jealousy, a zealous vigilance.
Vigilare: to ‘keep awake’.
Oh, I’ve been kept awake alright, with burning embers of jealousy slowly searing my insides, making me concave. I lay in a fury with thought feeding thought in a maze of paranoia. Song of Solomon was on point with the description of jealousy as ‘unyielding as the grave’. I was full once and now I look down and see a dark basin. What is eating away at me, but jealously.
I started realizing I was a dangerously jealous wife when I became suspicious of person after person. It wasn’t just the flirty barista or creepy cougar at the wedding, it was my friends or people we had been around many times before. It didn’t matter if they were married or single, black or white, blonde or brunette, athletic or artsy, man or woman. You can see how this has become a problem… Even unintentional incidences would set me off into a rage of jealousy, a pit of Woundedness, to the point of emotional paralyzation.
My husband and I were kayaking on a lake one day and we were cruising past an anchored boat. A man on the boat pulled a woman’s Bikini down, so we were flashed as we paddled by. My husband saw her breasts. He didn’t ask to see them, and she did not even ask for them to be shown, yet a flame of jealousy erupted. I hate that it caused so much emotion in me. I had anger for the disrespect for my marriage, but also a fear that my husband enjoyed it. I felt defeated and tired of fighting for my husband’s affections. Well, you can imagine the awkwardness for the rest of the kayaking excursion with my ice cold despondency. Remember how I said I get emotionally paralyzed? How self-absorbed I was to punish my husband for the unexpected exposure and for not even caring about the poor woman who was objectified. Jealousy is self-absorption. There is no way around it. It is all about how you feel, how you look, how you are treated, what is yours and wanting what is not yours. There is nothing selfless about jealousy. It not only damages you but the people you are jealous for. I can imagine the amount of jealousy I hold over my spouse, yields as much or more distrust that he perceives from me. And now HE is wounded because he does not feel trusted.
The only redeeming factor of the rage of jealousy is that we outlast it. We may cause damage along the way, but sooner or later it dies. Thank God emotions are temporary.
Of course, on the other side, the monster fueling the jealousy, is insecurity.
Insecurity always precedes jealousy. What am I insecure of? My appeal. My draw. My identity has become what my husband thinks of me. Or what I perceive him to think of me. It is no longer the flawless one Jesus has declared over me.
My insecurity and self-doubt have dammed a bayou full of jealousy, delusions and distrust; they’re drift wood floating around within a filmy gulf of erratic emotions. These emotions of jealousy start the cascade of thoughts leading down the bunny trail of worst case scenario- I am cheated on. So, I take it further. If I am cheated on, I am made a fool. That is it? Betrayal and foolishness is what I am so heated for, so afraid of? I realize the projection I have made. I am in fear of infidelity within my spouse because I fear infidelity within myself.
I remember when my husband and I were dating. We were in the thick of it and the idea of marriage terrified me. Actually the idea of divorce is what terrified me. I thought, ‘If half of married couples get divorced, why should I get married?’ I had a fear of myself choosing infidelity, betraying someone I loved, being overcome by passion in a flash and ruining my holy matrimony. I eventually realized we are not trapped and overwhelmed by a wave of emotion causing us to betray, rather we are faced with choices daily that lead to this action. Am I for my husband or am I not for my husband? Do I speak good things about him or only complain?
The promise of marriage does not mean we won’t be tempted. It is a promise that at the end of the day, every day, we choose marriage. We choose each other. It is a choice, which means we have other choices. We do have the choice of infidelity. We can choose someone else. And we can only hope that we have the strength to love today and forever and the courage that loyalty demands.
My emotions try to fool me. And they often succeed. They trick me into believing they’ll last forever. But they are temporary. Emotions tire. Rage has no endurance. Jealousy is a flame, that turns to embers, which turn to cold. I catch myself hating my emotions, for they feel so burdensome. But, God created us to have emotion, to feel joy and to feel sadness. And to share these things amongst each other. I cannot ignore them but I can control them, or at least surrender them. I have to remember that trust is a command. It is humbling and elicits patience. I also, have to remember that God is for my marriage. He is for forever and the convanent of marriage is holy.
1 Peter 1:14
“Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance, but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, because I am holy.'”