Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ENVY (jealousy of anotherís advantage) (02/12/15)
By Trace Pezzali
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The salesman bends over the pieces with a jeweller‚Äôs magnifying glass. His fingers are nicotine stained. There‚Äôs a mole on his neck. His oily hair is thinning on top.
When he looks at me, there‚Äôs a black tooth in his grin. ‚ÄúCubic zirconia, of some quality. Fairly good imitation Rolex.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúImpossible! He said ‚Äď‚Äú I shut my mouth quickly.
‚ÄėNothing but the best for you, my Elly.‚Äô I can feel Andrew‚Äôs kiss on my neck, from that moment he‚Äôd fastened the necklace.
I leave the pawn shop with barely enough cash to cover the plane trip I don‚Äôt want to take. The Property Manager was smug when the Judge set termination of the lease. Is there any way out of running back home to Mum? Yuk. I‚Äôm not telling her everything.
I‚Äôm vaguely conscious of being carried along in the current of pedestrians. Suddenly a hand jerks me backwards at the same time a horn blasts. I‚Äôm hit by a wall of air, and realise I would have been hit by a truck. I turn around, but there‚Äôs only blank faces waiting to cross the street.
Delicate as porcelain teetering on a shelf about to fall, I make my way to the city square where I can sit in shade and recover. The preacher I usually laugh at is there. Normally I wouldn‚Äôt give him another glance, but today I‚Äôm arrested by him. His voice carries above the noise:
‚ÄúA tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.‚ÄĚ
A tranquil heart‚Ä¶ what does that even feel like? My earliest memory is the hiding I got after accidentally breaking Sally‚Äôs doll. This doll was beautiful: ringlets, rosebud mouth, blinking eyes, and petticoats. I‚Äôve always wanted what I didn‚Äôt have. It‚Äôs exhausting.
The first time I saw Andrew‚Äôs wife was at an office party. She sashayed in on her husband‚Äôs arm, svelte form sheathed in champagne satin, and diamond frosting at her neck and wrist. Everyone gave a collective gasp when she walked into the room. Beauty. Expensive clothes. Handsome, accomplished husband. That‚Äôs the life I want.
Of course, maxing out the credit cards to wear an imitation of success has now left me in debt. The long illicit affair I‚Äôd instigated, has today cost me my job and reputation. Not before Andrew‚Äôs promises filled my heart with a perfect future.
I catch the preacher‚Äôs words again: ‚ÄúThen I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man‚Äôs envy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.‚ÄĚ
You‚Äôve got that right. It‚Äôs all come to nothing. My endeavours have proven as worthless as I am.
‚ÄúFriends, we take great stock in the opinion of others for affirmation and acceptance. But human love is always flawed, and so our need to seek validation is relentless. Only God is unfailing and complete in His love and acceptance.‚ÄĚ The young man raises both arms and cries upwards, ‚ÄúGladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.‚ÄĚ
Suddenly, my heart‚Äôs hammering in my chest. I almost sob aloud I want that love!
The preacher stares straight at me. ‚ÄúThis is what the Lord says ‚Äď your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‚ÄėI am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
The next minute, he‚Äôs crossed the distance between us, and he‚Äôs kneeling before me, and I‚Äôm crying yet I‚Äôm so happy I could jump and leap and dance. He takes my hands in his and says, ‚ÄúPay attention to Him now, take His peace, accept your righteousness.‚ÄĚ
Scripture quoted: Prov 14:30; Eccl 4:4; Psalm 86:4-5 ESV; Isaiah 48:17-18 NIV
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