What do Bride Wars, Mean Girls, 27 Dresses, 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless all have in common? Besides all fitting that ‘Rom-Com’ mould (the guilty pleasure of our gender), they all find their plot in the delicate, complex and strained relationships that women have with each other. Hollywood should be thankful for the nature of relationships between women, because whether between friends, sisters, or mother and daughter, this topic has allowed a great volume of stories to be told. The films listed were a handful among many that jumped out at me from our modest DVD collection, yet there were few films whose plots sprang from some sensitive and nuanced nature in men’s relationships. Envy, possessiveness and competition can hover in the background of our relationships with other women, waiting to jump in and characterise what could otherwise be a healthy friendship or familial relationship. As women we will always face struggles that can lead to or stem from coveting in our friendships, and so as Christian women, we need to wrestle with our own godliness in this area.
Chapter Seven of The Envy of Eve, ‘Coveting Within Family and Friendship’, canvasses how our misunderstandings of how relationships should be in a fallen world and our insecurities within friendships and family lead to coveting. The suggested remedy is to adopt an other-person-centred attitude in our relationships and see opportunities to use them for the benefit of those outside the relationship through openness and generosity.
Kruger suggests that lying at the heart of our coveting in friendships is a selfish and unhealthy envy, born of the misguided seeking of satisfaction in relationships between ourselves and another sinful person. How many times have we caught ourselves in disgruntled thoughts about our friend’s friend as they seem to enjoy more time or joyful rapport with them? We see another enjoying the type of friendship that we desire to be ours, we then take away from others by tightening our grip on the friends we do have, and furthermore hide any possibility of openness to other people in that friendship.
I was struck in this chapter by Melissa Kruger’s mention of how Facebook and the general connectedness of our world can provide fuel to the fire of this coveting. It has become unprecedentedly easy for us to quietly sit back and observe our friends’ friendships and dwell on the differences between those relationships and the one we have with them. Perhaps our desire to keep from coveting should prompt us to spend less time perusing the lives of others Facebook and more time nurturing our friendships to be free from envy?
The new pattern that is suggested for us to put on is one in which we desire to further the community of believers by allowing ourselves to be open to new people, and rejoicing in our friends doing the same. Is there a friendship in your life where you might need to put off envy and learn to rejoice in the blessing that you and your friend can also be to others?