I still remember the way my leotard felt sliding up over a pair of white opaque ballet tights. The peach leather shoes—split-soled like all the cool girls wore—had elastic over the instep to keep them on. My thick hair was forced into a bun with long brown bobby pins, but a small halo of frizz hovered in the front.
When I looked into the full-length mirrors in the classroom, I saw what no 12-year-old girl really wants to see—a wide-hipped, duck-footed, womanly preteen masquerading as a ballerina.
At one of the other barres in the room, my arch enemy stood. She was willowy and tall, with dark smooth hair that always laid flat on her head. Her eyes were big and very alert. She wore real makeup. And what a dancer! She knew how to do a grand jeté, for goodness’ sake! I always positioned myself so I could watch her across the room.
I never knew what envy was until many years later, but as I look back on my watchful, admiring, silently resentful relationship with the glorious Sammi, the diagnosis is easy. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Sammi. She was what I wanted to be.
I resented every one of those grand jetés.
The other thing that I didn’t know about people at that time is that because we are all made in the image of God, we are among the brightest examples of the glory he’s planted in his creation. He put glory everywhere—traces of himself, on display in the world—but the most glorious created thing on earth is man.
That’s what I was seeing in Sammi. That’s what I was reacting to. Her glory (in this case the physical glory of beauty and the creative glory of dancing talent) was too much for me to bear. In that way, a human’s reflective glory is a little reminder of God’s own glory—if Sammi’s glory was too great to bear, how much more is God’s glory too great to bear?
Psalm 8 reflects on this relationship between the Creator and the glory of man: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” asks the Psalmist. “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”
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These devotions are adapted from Seeing Green by Tilly Dillehay. To learn more about how to break free from envy, visit: https://amzn.to/2OOsD0U