They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. (Hosea 7:16)
When we’re operating as a faulty bow, we long for identity, but we land in crisis. We shoot for pleasure, but we end up requiring more and more to make us happy. We target acceptance, but we hit greater insecurity. We long to be seen and acknowledged, but we end up feeling jealous, envious, and invisible.
The first place a faulty bow can send an arrow is into the minefield of competitiveness. When we don’t feel complete in Christ, we compete with others. But we don’t need to do this. If you’re tiptoeing through a minefield of competitiveness, try this…
Compliment Instead of Compete
Begin complimenting the women you would be otherwise inclined to compete against. Compliment someone for that quality in her that you’re actually jealous of. Instead of thinking, I hate you because you’re so skinny, say, “You really have a nice figure.” Even if you never speak a word to the woman you’ve found yourself competing against, you can think complimentary thoughts about her every time that jealous feeling starts to creep into your mind.
You’re aiming for personal peace and a healthy sense of self-esteem, aren’t you? Well, if you’re constantly competing, you won’t get what you’re aiming for. But when you choose to compliment instead of compete, you will actually begin to like yourself. You’ll feel magnanimous for your kindness rather than mad at yourself for being petty. When you make that shift from competing to complimenting, your faulty bow transforms into a faithful bow and you find yourself where you want to be—comfortable with yourself and happy for others.
Encourage Instead of Envy
The next minefield to watch out for is in the territory of envy. Many of us experience envy even if we don’t often admit this. I sure don’t want to admit to all the times I’ve felt envy because I don’t like what envy says about me. I feel ashamed when I’m envious of another woman. It’s a hard thing to love a friend so much, yet, at the same time, fight against feeling envious of her. And it’s even worse when we allow that envy to morph into just plain dislike or even resentment.
It’s also possible that you think you don’t like someone at all when deep down all you are is jealous of her. Sometimes when we are extra critical or resentful of someone, it’s because we are envious of her. And the main thing this reveals is that we really don’t like ourselves very much.
Here’s the deal: Envy of a friend is really a symptom of insecurity and discontentment with yourself. If you find yourself constantly fighting feelings of jealousy, it’s a clue that you may be operating as a faulty bow, misguided and unreliable.
Remember, being envious will always make you more self-aware and insecure, not less.
An envious person might say something like this: “I can’t believe she got picked to do that job! She thinks she can do everything better than anyone else.” What’s really being said here is this: “I wish I had been chosen to do that job. I feel invisible because she got all the attention. And I’m filled with feelings of jealousy—not joy—toward her. Not only do I want her job, I also want all the attention and accolades she received for doing it so well.”
Unattractive, right? None of us intends to live in envy of others, but when it happens (and it’s bound to!) our thoughts can become downright ugly. And when we start to think this way, we’re the only ones who lose. We lose joy and confidence and contentment as we grow in bitterness and anger and self-awareness. So how do you stop your jealous thought patterns and put a halt to feelings of negativity?
By encouraging! Say, “Way to go! You did a terrific job!” When you offer this kind of pure, no-strings-attached encouragement, you’ll feel so much better. You’ll develop a pure heart and a kind spirit—things that are actually worth envying! Being encouraging to others is a beautiful way to serve the Lord. And the more you serve Him, the less you will serve yourself. Your character will grow, and your pettiness will shrink.
Thank Instead of Threaten
If you find yourself becoming overly sensitive or easily threatened, chances are good that you’re a faulty bow. You aimed for the landscape of significance, but you’ve landed in the area of not-good-enough.
When you rest in the hand of God, you never need to feel less than. But it’s hard not to think about how others have treated us, and then we start to feel threatened. Maybe you weren’t shown the respect you thought you deserved. Perhaps you feel like someone is out to get you or others never treat you the way you’d like to be treated.
If you interpret every suggestion as a slap in the face, every correction as a criticism, and every insight shared with you as an insult to your intelligence, chances are you’re standing on a minefield—and it’s exploding every minute!
When you start to feel threatened, choose to be thankful instead.
How do you do this? Instead of taking everything personally, immediately take it to Jesus with a thankful heart. Say, “Thank You, Lord, for teaching me and helping me grow.”
If you’re threatened by someone you’re a tad jealous of, thank God for your friend’s good attributes. She is who God made her to be, and so to resent what is good in her is to resent what God has done in—and for—her. This might be difficult to do, but it’s so important. I know that when I’m not being who I am in God’s hands—when I’m focusing on what I’m not—I can never be satisfied with myself, my life, or anything else. I am threatened by others because I’m not thankful for them—and I’m not thankful for me.
Competitiveness, envy, and feeling threatened are just a few of the minefields where faulty bows send their arrows.
Do you too struggle with Faulty Bow Syndrome? If you do–and we all do–ask God to show you where you are, and then hand your faulty bow to Him because being our own archer never, ever works.
God doesn’t create faulty bows. If we choose to accept our identity as a loved, accepted, and complete woman of God, we will rest in the hands of the Master Archer. We will conform to His will and His ways, and we won’t twist and turn and bend and posture to get our own way.
When we are a faithful bow, we’ll be comfortable with the imperfect us–comfortable in the skin we’re in.
This article is adapted from Invisible by Jennifer Rothschild.
Publication date: November 6, 2015