Dear Emuna,

One of my close friends just got engaged to a guy from our community. Even though we are close friends, we always felt a kind of competition since we are both smart, etc. I am feeling a bit jealous first because she "won this round" and secondly this guy was suggested to me before but somehow we didn't end up going out.

I am the kind of person that works on her character, and I don't want to feel this way at all. Is there any advice you could give me just to feel happy for them? Thank you

Turning Green

Dear Turning Green,

As I'm sure you realize, this is a bigger issue than your friend's engagement. Although this may be particularly painful, throughout our lives we are all constantly confronted with situations where others get things that we want. Trying to find a healthy way to react to these circumstances will help you lead a much happier life in general, not just in this particular situation.

It's wonderful that you work on your character and that you are honest enough and self-aware enough to recognize the inappropriate and corrosive nature of your reaction and to want to do something about it. Although envy is a negative character trait, I don't think the issue is actually one of character. I think rather the way to combat jealousy is to work on trust in God and in understanding the basic principles through which He runs the world.

These are not new ideas but I believe they can't be said often enough. The Almighty does not have a finite pie to divide up among His children; His ability to give is infinite and He can give us as much or as little as He likes.

In addition, it is the Almighty's job to decide who and what is good for us; if your friend got engaged to this man, then he obviously wasn't the right one for you, whether he was suggested to you or not. Everything happens for a reason and nothing happens without the Almighty's participation. No one can take anything away from you that you were supposed to have and, if you're not meant to have something, no one can force it into being. That's why we are constantly reminding ourselves that God runs the world.

As I'm sure you recognize in your calmer moments, life is not a competition. All relationships, particularly friendships and marriages, are sustained through shared goals, through working together and not at cross-purposes or against each other. If you keep in mind that everything is in the Almighty's hands and that He only wants your good, you will discover that your jealousy will evaporate. There will in fact be nothing to be jealous of since God has given you exactly what you need.

I'm not saying it will be easy. There are some things in life we want very badly and it's harder to make peace with others having them when we don't. And yet, not only is it the only healthy way to move forward, it's the only way to live that is consistent with belief in a loving, all-knowing God.

I'm sure that your day will come but in the meantime, take advantage of your situation to work more deeply on your trust in God and on being generous to your friend. Offer to give to her - to host showers or sheva brachot or otherwise help her prepare for her special day and you'll be surprised to see how quickly your feelings of envy will melt or how rapidly you will get involved in the excitement and joy of her wedding.