Love does not envy. In continuing my series on what love is, we find here that it isn’t envious. This is a pretty easy characteristic to see and write off as few of us are actually envious, jealous little Smigels running around trying desperately to get back (or get for the first time, whatever the case may be) our “precious.” I wish this were that easy, selfishly I do, but I’ve seen that it’s just not. Once we dig a little deeper (common theme around here) we see there is something down there we’ve probably been neglecting for some time.

We swoon. That’s right, we have these ideas for how our friendships should look like, how our dating lives should unfold, etc. Mostly these ideas are formed of the movies (not to point a finger) we’ve watched and fairy tales we’ve read over the years. We’ve allowed the media to take hold of something so organic (relationships, that is) and coat it in plastic and sparkles. Think about it, what are your expectations of your best friend? How about of a significant other? You see, we are envious of what we have been convinced we should have. Whether you’re aware of this or not, it’s envy. Simply put, we want the relationships we’ve seen being certain they are what we should have but don’t.

Don’t suffer. Now, I’m not saying that we all should suffer through awful relationships for the entirety of our lives. Please don’t misconstrue that idea. We all will have relationships where something goes awry or is off from the start and it needs a little mending. That is absolutely healthy and normal, so please don’t drop a good relationship like a hot griddle because you think I’m saying you’re now acting in jealousy. Let’s use some of the discernment God has thankfully given us in the Holy Spirit.

Life’s messy. In case you haven’t figured out by now, as I seem to keep forgetting constantly, life doesn’t follow our blueprint and neither should our relationships, platonic or otherwise. Any relationship occurs between two deeply flawed individuals, thank God, and together we have a beautiful, visceral vortex of imperfections and insecurities flying around to create what we know as a relationship. My words don’t do it justice, but don’t you see the beauty in how God even here takes the imperfect and makes it breathtaking? It’s like two plus two now equaling five.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'” – Genesis 1:26a

Key word: image. Let’s remember that here. God didn’t make us as exact replicas and so while we share certain qualities, we are not little Gods running around the earth making good and merriment everywhere our feet tread. However, we were created to be in community, therefore relationships. It’s a little hard to be created in the likeness of a triune God without taking some of the interpersonal aspects as well. That being said, we need relationships as it’s part of our DNA. We need healthy and uplifting relationships that are mutually beneficial, experiencing all of life together. What we don’t need are expectations that we are or anyone else is flawless. What we don’t need is that envy for what we think we should have to creep in and poison the otherwise healthy.

Try this: write down what you expect in each of your significant relationships and I’m certain you’ll see I’m not crazy. You’ll look at your list and see that envy poisons all of our loves, but that’s OK. We’re aware of it now and it gives us somewhere to start. Remember, do not confuse a relationship in need of repair with one that’s poisonous. Repair is necessary from time to time in every worthwhile relationship. While we’re made in the likeness, the image of God, none of us are even close to being Him, let alone are Him. Therefore, relationships will never be perfect as they’re a product of flawed people like ourselves intermingling with one another’s flaws. Therefore, will we stop and smell the roses today of God’s garden of relationships in our lives or will we go fawn over another filled with silk flowers? The choice is ours, but regardless, love does not envy.