Latter-day Saint Life

Why Do We Feel Damaged When Others Are Blessed?


What an inspiring post that reminds us of Elder Holland's counsel:

"Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.
"Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! . . . [C]oveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live."

My 6-year-old Lucy was being a benevolent big sister, helping 3-year-old Emmy open her first birthday present. When Lucy saw beyond the teal wrapping paper with white polka dots to the gift's contents, however, her generosity became bitter envy.

“What?” she said incredulously, eyes glaring at me and my wife as she noticed a doll from a popular children’s movie. “I want an Elsa doll!”

If you have kids, or if you were once young, or if you’re human, you’re familiar with this scene. One child is content and kind until she sees another child with something she doesn't have—even though the former child has many toys of her own and sufficient grounds to be happy with what she has.

Adults see this clearly as childish myopia, yet if we’re honest we know this kind of clouded vision doesn’t end with childhood. Feelings of jealousy and envy toward our blessed fellow man are part of our lives until the very end.

The commandment, “Thou shalt not covet … any thing that is thy neighbour’s” may be the last of the 10 commandments, but it’s been one of the first and chief struggles of my life.

Lead image from Getty Images.
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