3 Truths to Remember When Envy Tries to Keep You Quiet

When I walk, I leave everything behind. I used to take my camera with me, but now it only keeps me distracted. I wear a watch (remember those?) so I don’t have to bring my phone.

I’m learning how to walk like a believer, how to look ahead on the path rather than just at my feet. How to stop and touch the bark on that funny looking tree. How to see.

I found a leaf as big as my face, plucked it off the branch and brought it home to show the kids. They were delighted because I was. We teach them how to see, too.

Yesterday as I was perusing through my archives I clicked on courage.

courage - chatting at the sky

I found a post I wrote in the past called “Why is it so Hard to Call Yourself a Writer?” I realize I’m not the only one saying some of these things. When I re-read that post, it was confirming to read something and know other writers are saying it too.

But there was a time when that was terrifying. There was a time when I would read the inspiring words other people wrote and I would get a hole in my stomach. That hole was a drain where inspiration and courage swirled around like dirty water, faster and faster until they disappeared forever, leaving me alone and  dejected in a land where I am a loser with nothing to say.

When you have a message and you pack words around that message like clay on a wheel and someone else shows up with a finished pot? It can feel like dying a little bit. Every artist knows this. It’s why people stop making art.

What do you do when someone else is saying what you want to say and saying it better?

1 . Your goal is not to make something new, your goal is to reimagine what already is.

Our imaginations are endless. You get to frame things in a way only you can, with a voice only you have. Sure, we may be framing the same thing, but we’ll do it differently. This takes the pressure off. I could write a whole thing on that, but Austin Kleon already did. Of course. Lifestyle photographer Kelly Sauer wrote about this recently too: I’m Not Orignal. Now What?

2. We live in a world of abundance, not scarcity.

I didn’t feel badly about pulling that leaf from the branch. The tree was full of them. There is enough to go around. There really is. Just because he is saying something you think you should say doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If they do it, join them. If she says it, support her. They are not the enemy. If they are saying it too, all that means is that you’re on to something. This is a good thing. Use it.

3. We need you awake and alive.

Does the world need another book? Song? Painted living room? Not necessarily. But does the world need you to come alive? Absolutely. If writing books and songs and painting living rooms is what makes you come alive, then that’s what you’ll need to do. Maybe if we shift the focus from our work, our art and our insecurities, we will see a world to rub shoulders with, a world ready to receive what we have to offer.

 What do you do when someone else is doing the thing you want to be doing?


  1. says

    Q: “What do you do when someone else is doing the thing you want to be doing?”


    1 – Fret.
    2 – Stew.
    3 – Wring Hands.


    No. I’m not that bad. Life is too short. I get to work and do that thing. I’m the only person who can tell this one story, in this one life. When I get to Heaven someday, God won’t want to say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You sure did a nice job being Emily.” Nope. He wants me to do my best at being Jennifer, the person He created Jennifer to be.

    Great post, as usual, Emily. Keep doing what you’re doing. It matters to God, and it matters to people.

    • says

      He wants me to do my best at being Jennifer, the person He created Jennifer to be.

      Ok, I’m reading along thinking, ” I need to start writing. Now.” Of course, all the usual doubts and fears swell up in my ears, filling my brain with stormy disbelief. Then I read this statement. It has hit me right between the eyes! Wow!

  2. says

    Oh Emily, you have no idea how much I needed to read this. In fact, I’ll probably print it out and keep in near my desk just for a constant reminder. You have an amazing way of capturing everything I am feeling. Like this: “That hole was a drain where inspiration and courage swirled around like dirty water, faster and faster until they disappeared forever, leaving me alone and dejected in a land where I am a loser with nothing to say.” That is exactly how I’ve felt for the past year. But lately God has been stirring me to get back up and write more. He has used your post to confirm that. Oh, and the Scripture I read this morning: “Finishing is better than starting.” (Eccl. 7:8)

    Thanks for the beautiful encouragement today!

  3. says

    *Wonder if I’m up to this task of writing.
    Then I remind myself that I’m not, but my God is. If this is His prodding, His call on my life, He will give me the words to inspire, encourage, instruct, and inform. I just need to let Him.

  4. says

    Thanks again Emily for sharing your wisdom. (even though you stole it from Solomon, hee, hee)
    After reading you, Michele Cushatt, and your dad, I am left with no more excuses. I read your dad’s book for the second time this week and finally had the courage to push the “publish” button.
    YOU are a treasure. Keep it coming!

  5. says

    I think, “Hey! I was going to do that!” And then sometimes I do it anyway. Or sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I’m relieved that I don’t *have* to do it because someone else did it!

  6. says

    We use this scripture …rejoice with those who rejoice in such a shallow way…it takes a dying to truly rejoice with those who rejoice…because many times someones else is rejoicing over something you lack…getting married when you have no prospects…having babies when your test keep reading negative…jobs…homes…the list can go on…so we have to leave our own selfish envy behind…and truly allow God Spirit to come and give us a rejoicing heart…because He rejoices over each one of us….I love your heart…thanks your encouragement. blessings~

  7. Joye says

    I often say ” oh, they did it better than I could have anyway.” But you made me want to go home and paint my living room- Decorating makes me come alive!

  8. says

    These words on this day well… they inspire and they give me a little spoonful of courage. I am grateful that you went back to the archives and stirred things up a bit because you created this beauty this morning. And for me it equals a blessings to my soul. And love the new digs. It still leaves room for my soul to breathe and as always, so do your words.

  9. says

    I lean into God more, because the more I look at what others do and compare myself, I will be like that dirty water going down the drain with nothing to give. Creating art isn’t about copying someone, its about being inspired by them to be more of who you are. I think what you say here leads me to the conclusion of trust. We have to trust that what we have to give the world is valuable because He created it in us to share and inspire others, whether a handful or the masses. Thanks for your encouragement and for the courage to speak boldly to us, it makes us better.

  10. says

    Oh wow Emily! This is so good!

    Especially this paragraph: “When you have a message and you pack words around that message like clay on a wheel and someone else shows up with a finished pot? It can feel like dying a little bit. Every artist knows this. It’s why people stop making art.”

    Just reading that alone made me tear up because you perfectly described what I feel sometimes.

    I need to keep reminding myself about this. I’ve been working on a cookbook for the past few months that will show families how to eat clean on a budget and the enemy has pounded me with doubt more than once, telling me to quit. Every time I would see a finished book on the market with an idea similar to mine, my stomach drops and a part of me feels like it’s dying. It’s truly the worst feeling.

    But then the holy spirit nudges me to keep going, telling me I have something to offer.

    So thank you for this! You are a blessing!

  11. says

    Did you write this for me? I sometimes feel like I got into the blogging thing too late. There is nothing new. I find myself not able to write when I think about everyone else that hes said the same thing better. Thank you for writing about it.

  12. says

    Taking a deep breath of these words today. So good for my soul to hear them.

    I especially love this one “Just because he is saying something you think you should say doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If they do it, join them. If she says it, support her. They are not the enemy.”

    I have had so many times when I have felt like my words were “taken” recently. And by writers who speak more eloquently and have bigger followings. My first response has been jealousy and frustration. This post is a wonderful reminder to keep writing anyway. And to be supportive to those who are saying similar things.

    Thank you.

  13. says

    “Does the world need another book? Song? Painted living room? Not necessarily. But does the world need you to come alive? Absolutely.”

    Love this line! It is so true. Great post!

  14. Sharon O says

    I am doing Jeff’s writing challenge and it has stirred me to think and do and take the time to process. I am also finding that over processing is less productive some of the most commented blogs written were the ones that came quickly with little ‘thought’ to them.
    You challenge me too. Thank you.

  15. Dee Posey says

    “Wow! He has your eyes!!” These were my first thoughts when I saw your post! Just beautiful, Em!

    And yes, I’m forever feeling like what I do, anyone can do. But, I think we all do it on our own special, God-given way and so we all have something different to offer even if it looks the same to us. I have to remind myself of this all the time. I don’t have to be like HER. I need to be ME. Reflecting HIM. The way HE designed me to. It’s a constant battle.

  16. says

    This is so encouraging. A few months ago, I was really excited about a blog post I was planning to share on a Monday (I post just weekly). But the day before go-live, a guest preacher at our church nailed my topic better than I had. So, because I knew a large portion of my readership is from my church and would’ve just heard that sermon, I felt like I would’ve been a follower, a copier, not an original. I trashed the post. So sad, isn’t it? Why couldn’t I have looked at that as affirmation from God that I was on to something? Thank you for this message, Emily! (And by the way, I posted on envy this week, too! Funny!)

  17. says

    What do I do? Oh, usually have a big fat tantrum and cry a little and complain to my husband about how it’s no fair. And then I finally get around to asking God to forgive my pettiness and lack of trust and insecurity. And then I write and hit publish. Again. Because it’s really the only thing I know how to do and I can’t imagine not doing it.

    Thanks for this, Emily. Totally, absolutely 100 percent what I needed today. Every day.

  18. says

    Thank you for this. You’v hit the nail right on the head for me. Honestly, I usually write what is coming straight from my heart, but it never fails that as I read other blogs many of them have already beat me to the punch. But I write about it anyway. There are two things I think about when I realize my thoughts aren’t always original: 1) Even if the thought itself isn’t original, my own personal experiences are and therefore the way I elaborate on it will be original and 2) by going ahead and writing about it anyway, I am reaching that many more people, people who follow me and not the other writer, and hopefully will broaden the number of people who are impacted by it. Us non-original writers have an obligation to write what is important to us whether it has been written already or not because by doing so we are listening to what God has put on our hearts to tell others. They are messages from Him and we are His messengers. Loved the post by Kelly Sauer too…thanks for that!

  19. says

    I do that swirling down the drain thing you wrote about Emily. I’m in tears reading this, because yesterday I sat at my little desk and tried to live out the dream and I felt so inadequate. There are so many others who do it with such excellence, and who do I think I am anyway?
    I needed this. You so often write exactly what I need to hear. I’m so glad you have courage sweet girl.

  20. says

    remind myself that the grass always looks greener on the other side…

    try not to pout about it

    think the internet is a horrid place because before it, i wrote and wrote and wrote. now i compare and compare. envy and jealousy are bitter-n-sour so i scrub my tongue and heart and re-start

    remind myself that i’m a bit of an odd country bumpkin duck and lean on God’s promises of our rewards & riches in heaven

    tell it to God and realize i am who He made me to be, even here in the interwebs, and He doesn’t make mistakes

    encourage others because i know what the lack is like

    Good night, Irene, err, miss Emily, that was a mouthful for an initial stop at a new site; I followed a FB link. I’ve seen you around Blogland. This is a purty place and you seem to have a God-grande heart. Thanks for this piece.


  21. says

    Good grief – you did it again :)
    I often struggle with “Why say it when someone else can say it oh so much better than I? So much more beautifully? So much more thought provoking?”
    Thank you for this lovely reminder!!

  22. Anna says

    Some of the times I am most blessed and excited by God are when He leads me to some subject in more than one place be that sermon, book, blog post, song, something someone says or some secular thing. Whatever, it’s always creative of Him to bring them to my attention. I suppose the more we are led by Him and not worrying about ourselves and how we appear so much, the more resources He has to use.

  23. says

    Emily, this is a beautifully written expression of what I would guess harbors inside of every heart, perhaps unaware even of the obstacle dwelling there until someone brings it to the light with words! Bless you for doing that, being willing to push through to being you! I love your message, I love your book and want to read chapters 10 and 11 over and over. Jesus reveals to you unique expressions of His divine love…a testimony to this very post. May He continue to fill you to overflowing, splashing the living water on all who find you!
    PS I love your blog, the new look, the pictures. Serenity dwells here…

  24. Nicole says

    I recently heard a cancer specialist say, “I’m in the research department, not search.” Sounds like it’s similar for writers. THANK YOU for sharing your kind insights on a tough topic.

  25. says

    Well, here’s a secret: I have stopped making “that” art. You know the one. It’s mostly done, but not all the way and I haven’t touched it or looked at it in months. I’ve begun to tell myself that it’s over, that I’ll never dust it off.

    Anyway, thanks for this. I’ll go chew on it, O.

  26. says

    What do you do when someone else is doing the thing you want to be doing?

    It seems I have lived my whole life unable to deal with this fact. Every time I acknowledged a desire within me to do something, it was as if the heavens opened up and God would graciously bestow that opportunity and accomplishment on the person right next to me. I’ve struggled a lot with the “why bother”-ness of it all.

    I want to be unique and appreciated, but #1 and #2 above remind me that I am unique neither in content or volume. And there will always be someone better or more desirable for whatever I want to do (sing, write, paint, create, be a friend, or even date).

    Then I get to #3 — that pretty much says, Who cares? That’s what I’m working on now. How do I feel awake and alive despite the lack of uniqueness or appreciation? By doing it anyway. Man, that’s hard. And many days I’m not up to the challenge. But there are days when I remember that creating parts of me that no one happens to notices is always more fulfilling than letting parts of me die because no one happens to notice.

    Thank you so much for this reminder. If I’m doing this to be alive, then it’s always going to be as unique (or rather, weird) as I am. And if I can appreciate that, then that’s where I start.

  27. says

    I have felt the discouragement of knowing my passions have already been sung. You have encouraged us to keep singing it, playing it, writing it, saying it anyway because it brings us to life. Thank you!

  28. says

    Thank you for this Emily. I really needed this encouragement & reminder today.
    I’m an artist. I paint. From the time I was a little girl it has been my way of practicing “Eucharisto;”
    to see the beauty in the world around me & be overwhelmed with gratitude.
    As I got older & became an adult that got harder & harder because I lost my focus. I kept comparing myself to what others were doing or worrying about what they thought.
    But in the last couple of years my spark has been burning again. My focus is fixed.
    And that’s the reminder I need to give myself when I feel discouraged; to keep my focus on my Saviour & trust that He has a plan for me.
    Then I can create from a place of thankfulness again.

  29. says

    Yes!!! Oh, how I LOVE what you said here: “Does the world need another book? Song? Painted living room? Not necessarily. But does the world need you to come alive? Absolutely.” It’s just like John Eldredge’s Waking the Dead. In it he quotes Ignacius who said “God’s glory is man fully alive.” So true. We can’t show the world Jesus – the Light of Life – if we’re afraid to be who He’s inspiring us to be. Keep preachin’ it sister!

  30. says

    Oh Emily,

    I so wish that I could tell you that I do not get jealous but it simply isn’t true. I am so new on this journey of the “new me” and I still get jealous when I don’t have what others have.

    I pray every day for help with that.

    Your words help though my friend :)

  31. says

    Emily, That is beautiful. I will need to reflect on your words for a while to gather all of the substance contained in them. Truly something I needed to hear. Thank you!

  32. says

    He looks just like his mom!
    I think about how I’ll look like a copy cat if I go through with my plans. When I finally take the jump I wonder why I waited. As usual I needed to read this right now.

  33. says

    This is EXACTLY what I needed at this very second. I was feeling so discouraged because even though I love to write, every time I read an article or blog post I felt that same hole in my stomach because I think, they say what I want to say so much better than me, so why do I continue to bother. I was just feeling this way when I found this blog. That voice in my head keeps whispering, “no one cares what you have to say”.

  34. says

    This is such an encouraging post to me, because I struggle with this often. I will have what I think is a great post idea and add it to my “to write” list, and then do a bit of blog hopping later and find out so and so already wrote about that idea. But then God reminds me through His word or with posts like yours, that He created me with a unique voice and the way I say it will be different and speak to different people.

  35. says

    I have stopped. For six months I struggled with the envy and insecurity, and for the past six months I’ve just not done it. I paid to renew my domain in Feb, but waited till the last possible day. Life excuses have crowded in and I’ve allowed them to silence me. The belief that no one cares, others do it better and that was for a time stop me in my tracks every time. The habit of daily writing has been broken, and it just feels so hard to start again. Because I wrote for the wrong reasons and I’m still not sure that my heart is right. Do you ever get to a place where you write to bring glory to God and for the sheer love of it, because mine always felt tainted by the need for approval, recognition and praise. That turns my stomach just writing it out.

    So my answer to your question is: I wonder what makes them different.

  36. says

    wow…thanks for this. my heart needed desperately to hear it. God has shed light on both my doubt and envy associated with writing over the past few months. i have been learning what to do with that. i love your suggestions…what a great way to shift my perspective and dispel some lies i think i was believing. in addition, i have found it hugely beneficial to connect and collaborate with other writers and artists whom i admire. it may sound silly but it reminds me that they are not a ‘competitor’ but a kindred spirit on this journey with me.

  37. Tamara says

    Hi Emily,

    You read my thoughts when you said,
    “What do you do when someone else is saying what you want to say and saying it better?”

    All too often I give up in defeat (I’m working on that).

    I enjoy reading your blog and just want to thank you for sharing your heart. You’ve been a great encouragement to me. :)

  38. says

    Another keeper! I appreciate your encouragement! Thank you for adding the article title to the subject line for subscribers! It will be very helpful.

    Deb Weaver

  39. says

    Funny – I saw there were 53 comments and thought, why botheer, lol. It’s encouraging to see so many other people with the same feelings and experiences. Which shows that we are being silly, because there is no way that one or two people can speak for all 54 of us…we could all write about the same thing and get 54 different posts. That was one of my favorite things about the Week of Mutuality. All of these people writing about the same thing from so many different angles.

  40. says

    Wow. I can’t even put into words how badly I needed this. Especially right now. You described that hole perfectly. Truth be told: I felt it a little bit when I read your book :) Then I heard God speaking encouragement to me. The same encouragement you shared in this post. Then, I forgot about it. Now while I’m feeling overwhelmed by everyone that “is” and everything I’m not, the hole reopens. Then, I stumbled into this post. And I am, again, encouraged. Thank you.

  41. says

    I remember how I first discovered your blog. Lysa TerKeurst introduced you and your sister at her blog, and she encouraged you in her post that you would indeed one day write a book. And I was in awe. And I wanted that. I wanted someone I respected, admired, looked up to…or at least someone who had written their own book…to tell me that they were sure I would some day write a book. It was like she had picked you and labeled you gifted and able.

    Of course, I know that isn’t why you wrote your book! While I am sure it felt encouraging, I realize you wrote your book because it is what He created you to do. God picked your purpose. And He has a just right purpose picked for me, too. :) I don’t need to keep waiting on someone else to give me the thumbs-up on being me, on doing what He has created me to do.

    I just finished reading Jeff’s e-book, and one of the things that jumped out at me was his encouragement to STOP waiting to be picked and just write! Taking that advice. And breathing in the grace, courage, and hope you always have here at your place.

    Kimberly, a writer :)

  42. says

    “When you have a message and you pack words around that message like clay on a wheel and someone else shows up with a finished pot? It can feel like dying a little bit. Every artist knows this. It’s why people stop making art.”

    “What do you do when someone else is doing the thing you want to be doing?”

    My answer is in your post…I “feel like dying a little bit.” I feel green and my countenance is downcast.  When that happens I have learned to quickly humble myself and ask God to help cleanse my green heart.  

    God takes me to Genesis 4:1-8 reminding me of the first murder when Cain killed Abel.  He reminds me when the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering and did not regard Cain’s offering…Cain’s reaction?
    He was angry and his countenance fell.  

    When the Lord warns Cain and tells him if he does well his countenance will lift up and if he does not do well, sin is crouching at his door and Cain must ‘master’ it.  Cain did not heed God’s warning and did not master sin but killed his brother.  I ask God to search my heart and show me areas of disobedience, to show me if I am ‘doing well.’  Usually the feelings I get are from CONVICTION…I’m not doing what God has asked me to do and I know it. 

    Sometimes it’s about contentment.  Being thankful for the role God has given me and how He has uniquely created me AND how He has uniquely created them–I recently wrote about it ‘free to enjoy the butterflies’


    Ultimately God reminds me I must run the race marked out before me and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ the Author and Perfecter of faith and to utter (write) His Words in His strength so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11). He reminds me unless He builds, I build in vain.  

    -thank you for the encouragement to stay ‘awake’ and ‘alive’

  43. says

    That last paragraph is just exactly what I needed to read today. Does the world need me to come alive? That’s a question I need to sit with a while. I mean, the answer is yes… But I need to soak in that in the face of the other.

  44. says

    Emily, can I just say….thank you so much for putting these thoughts together and for letting the Lord speak through you. They are EXACTLY what I needed to hear EXACTLY when I needed to hear them.

    Just, thank you.

  45. says

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today! I am a good writer compared to the entire world’s population (including infants) but as a new blogger, I feel like a complete dummy when I read amazing posts from others. Very encouraging. Thank you.

  46. says

    This is so inspirational! Because we each have our own unique perspective, if the message inspires us, it will inspire others.
    I’ve often found myself interested in a conversation, not because of the subject, but because the person talking to me was so full of enthusiasm.
    We all say the message slightly differently, but no-one says it “better” than us, because no one else has our individual point of view.

  47. says

    I gave up on my blog because caring for my ailing dad 2 days a week and keeping up with life, loving and managing our household and big family, was hard enough. Now that Dad’s with Mom and the Lord, things should fall back into place, right? Um, not so much. When I think of getting back to my blog, that hole in my stomach is exactly what I’ve been feeling!! I’ve been reading your book, your sister’s book, and Melissa Michael’s books…as well as all 3 blogs, and blogs of others on food, budgeting– Things I care about, but also things I might share or write about. I feel like it’s all been said and done so well…What can I add? But now I remember watching my mother-in-law give up sewing because she thought I did it better, and gave up baking because my sister-in-law did that ‘better’…It was so sad. We were/are all different and had different things to offer.

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