Relationship Envy

Jennifer Gilbart
Bible study

My workday begins at 9 AM, so at 8:59, I commute up the stairs to my home office, formerly known as the guest bedroom. At Walking with Purpose, employees work remotely, which is a blessing and hugely convenient for working moms like me who tend to spend their morning hours searching for their kids’ lost sneakers, water bottles, and homework assignments while packing lunches, and, in my case, removing cat fur from the kids’ clothes with that sticky roller thing. Once my youngest son climbs on the bus at 8:35, I have 24 minutes to pull myself together enough so that when my boss invites me to a Zoom video conference call at 9 AM, I’m ready (ish).

That scenario played itself out recently, when my boss (WWP’s CEO, Julie Ricciardi) Zoomed me at 9 AM from Denver, CO. It was two hours earlier for Julie, but she had been up for hours anyway.

“I went to Mass at 6 AM,” Julie told me that morning. Knowing Julie, she had also exercised, enjoyed an extremely healthy breakfast, answered 100 emails, and maybe even solved world hunger before our 9 AM call. As we spoke, we could see each other via video connection, and I was hoping I was sitting far enough from the camera so Julie couldn’t see the cat fur on my shirt.

When that Zoom call ended, I realized I was feeling something unusual—I was feeling envy. Or more exactly, an emotion somewhere between envy and longing. It was envy-longing for what Julie had. I’m not talking about her peaceful and productive mornings. I wasn’t envious that she went to 6 AM Mass; I was envious that she wanted to go to 6 AM Mass.

Does that even make sense? Is there logic in that—in feeling envious of a relationship with Christ when that relationship is a thing that I am equally entitled to? No one is keeping it from me, purposefully dangling it out of reach. If it is within my reach, a fruit I can easily pick, I should feel no envy over it.

But I do wish I possessed a faith so strong that waking up before the sun in order to be present with Him in the Eucharist wasn’t a chore but a blessing.

The Walking with Purpose Bible study Opening Your Heart was written to help women like me open their hearts to Jesus Christ. I participated in an Opening Your Heart parish program study not long ago and my heart was opened, but now that I really think about it, and now that I’m being honest with myself, perhaps it wasn’t opened all the way.

That was really bothering me for a few days last week; that and the fact that envy is a sin.

But as I got caught up in the day-to-day of my hectic life and the kids’ activities on Friday and Saturday, my faith envy got back-burnered.

Then Sunday came, and Father Joseph Akunazeri (a newly-ordained priest of the Archdiocese of New York) celebrated the 10:15 AM Mass at our parish. His first Mass as a priest.

Sisters, he was BEAMING; smiling from ear to ear, so full of joy and the Holy Spirit, he was practically glowing.

Me? I was envious, again. I don’t know that kind of joy, I thought to myself as I sat bookended in the pew by my two sleepy children.

Suddenly, I was struck with a thought. God knows I don’t want to feel envious. He wants me to do something to get rid of that useless feeling.

Joining another Walking with Purpose Bible study group would do wonders for my soul, but the closest WWP parish program is pretty far from where I live. Perhaps I should double my efforts to bring Walking with Purpose to my own parish? Problem is, that would be more of a give than a get, if you know what I mean. Maybe what I really need is a spiritual mentor…

As I was contemplating these questions (while blowing cat fur off my computer keyboard), I decided to turn to my Opening Your Heart study guide in search of answers.

Would you believe that the first page I opened to (Lesson 12, Day 4 introduction) contained these words, written by author Lisa Brenninkmeyer:

“Do you want to become a saint? I’m not talking about wanting recognition for your holiness. A saint is simply someone who has been radically transformed by Christ. She has pursued Jesus wholeheartedly, and in that pursuit has been changed for the better.”

My answer is yes! I do wish to be radically transformed. It is likely that my pursuit of Him has not been entirely wholehearted. How do I open my heart all the way? I’ll continue to pray about it, and I hope you’ll pray for me too.

Blessings,

Jen

Catholic Bible Study