By Rebecca Hastings
What happens when admiration goes too far – when you admire a friend too much?
We were new friends, the kind that feels exciting and a little uncertain. The first time I was at her house for dinner I looked around at her lovely home. I felt comfortable and welcome even though we didn’t know each other well. The food smelled great, and the table was set beautifully.
It was a lovely evening.
On the ride home I mentioned to my husband how nice everything was. How good the food was. How comfortable the couch was. And how I wondered where she got that great lamp.
He nodded along as he drove, agreeing everything was nice.
When Admiration Goes Wrong
We walked into our house and suddenly everything looked a bit less sparkly. My couch was more than a few years old and the living room was in serious need of a coat of fresh paint. Probably in a different color, too.
“Do you think our house looks…?” my voice trailed off, not quite able to put a word to what I was feeling.
My husband looked at me a bit confused, finally saying, “The house is fine.”
I agreed (reluctantly) and we headed to bed.
The next morning, I couldn’t help but notice how plain my kitchen looked. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but somehow it just didn’t look right. My new friend’s kitchen looked so nice, but mine…and my thoughts trailed off again.
Realizing the Problem Behind Too Much Admiration
In all honesty, my kitchen was fine. And so was my couch. My living room did need to be painted, but no more than it had the week before. The problem wasn’t my house, the problem was my perspective.
After just one evening in my friend’s house, my own house suddenly wasn’t measuring up.
I had shifted from admiring my new friend’s lovely home to wishing my house was as nice as her house. I no longer held a loving admiration for my friend’s ability to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Instead, I held growing envy, wishing I could have what she had.
Choosing the Not-So-Simple Solution
I knew my feelings would get in the way of my new friendship becoming something lovely. I knew because I had let it happen before, in tiny ways like wishing I could have someone’s looks and perfect wardrobe or longing to go on vacations the way another friend did.
Feelings that started as admiration shifted into envy, thwarting the hopes of deeper friendship. And I didn’t want it to happen again.
I wish I could say there was a magic solution, a quick, easy fix. Instead, I’ve found that faithfully recognizing the problem and bringing it to God is the best starting place.
“Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious…” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (AMP)
When God begins to soften the places in my heart, I can begin to make better choices to honor my friend and admire her in love. I remind myself that she and I are not in competition. How I live or what I look like isn’t meant to be used as a measuring stick in my mind. It’s simply an opportunity to recognize the gifts and beautifully unique things about who I am.
There is a slippery slope from admiration to envy. It starts as something that feels good but ends up making you feel less than and not good enough. You don’t need to find your way out alone. God is ready to help you move from wishing you had something that seems better to a loving admiration for the good things in the people around you.
Wife Step: Ask God to show you where admiration may be moving toward envy in your life.
Rebecca Hastings is a writer and speaker helping women discover faith in their real, everyday life. Married for 23 years, she is a wife and mother of three living in her hometown in Connecticut. Her books, including Worthy: Believe Who God Says You Are, are available on Amazon. Rebecca can often be found typing words, driving her kids places, or wherever there is chocolate.