Our deacon tonight gave a fantastic homily focused on the difference between admiring someone and being envious of someone. To help set the stage, let’s see what the definitions of each are.
• Admire – Regard with respect or warm approval
• Envy – Desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else
One emotion, admiration, is very positive and helps us learn how to be better people. The other emotion, envy, is very negative and a major source of our unhappiness.
When giving example Deacon shared the example of John Lennon and the song All You Need Is Love as it said how easy love is to find. He’s envious of John’s ability to find love to be easy when so many of us find it to be a continuous work in progress that requires great work and dedication. He then shared the examples of Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr to show people he admired. Deacon Dave openly shared that even though he admires those two individuals so much he is certainly not envious of them, especially the sacrifices they both made.
In my head I started to think about the times when I’ve have strong admiration for people. As I made the mental list my smile grew wider and my heart filled with joy. I could feel my happiness increase just thinking about why I admired those individual. I then thought of the people I am envious of. In some cases they have things I want, live a lifestyle I want, and so on. As I thought about them my heart sank and the joy left. Taking time to analyze what just happened I realized I’d violated that major rule of joy. Joy is not about having what you want, it’s about wanting what you have. When I thought of those things I wanted my joy fell flat.
This mini thought experiment in church got me thinking. What a wonderful self-reflection question! When thinking about a person, their qualities, or their belongings I am going to pause and ask myself that question. Am I admiring them or am I envious of them? If I am admiring, how can I focus on what I specifically admire about the person and try to live it more in my life. If I am envious I can pause and think about what I wish I had. Why do I want that? Do I already having something similar? Do I have something different or better? How can I turn it into wanting what I have? In either case, admiration or envy, I can use the thought process to help me learn more about myself while adding a little joy to my life. Not too shabby!