I had a revelation while I watched the children (especially the boys) in my two's class where I work. Picture the scene with me. One child has a toy, a pair of yellow plastic glasses from a Mr. Potato Head set, and the glasses themselves are bent and worn. The child puts the glasses on his face, and dances around in front of the mirror with the way too small toy shoved just so on his face. He is so, so happy. And so, he shows his new found happiness to his friend - who promptly grabs the old, bent yellow frames off the child's face. Because the friend suddenly wants what another has. And the friend wants that used, beat up toy, more than anything. And out of an uncontrollable urge, the friend takes them, no matter who gets hurt. And the first child cries.
And as a teacher, I intervene. We talk about sharing and asking politely and accepting "no" as an answer. Sometimes one person just isn't quite ready to share. Maybe the item in question is new, or it is newly rediscovered, or it is just an all time favorite. But for whatever reason the child can't share - just yet. And the other child has to accept this disappointing fact and find another toy. Soon, both children are happy again. Friends again. Until another toy becomes envied; and the cycle continues.
As a parent, I tend to scold and act as though I just can't imagine what has gotten into my boy. He's not usually like that. Except that we are really all like that. We all envy what others have. We all want something new, or rediscovered, or familiar, as long as it is more than we have right now. It is in our human nature. It seems against our nature to just be genuinely happy for another in their good fortune. So often the envy is there, somewhere, even if we've grown to hide it well. And so, for me, that would be where Jesus comes in. Where the Spirit within me rises up. Where God becomes needed. Because when I am centered around God, with Jesus holding my hand, rather than God centered around me, and Jesus doing my bidding, I find that I can go against nature. I can find joy in others' good fortune. I can think outside of myself. And I can dwell in the Spirit, content despite my circumstances. Aware that actually, my circumstances are quite good. And for that I can only say, "Praise God."