I am very active in my church. I am a member of both a Sunday School class and a Bible study. Inevitably, these classes get around to the Ten Commandments, and we talk about which commandment is the hardest to obey. Some people struggle with keeping the Sabbath. (I am happy to have an excuse to nap and read on Sundays.) Others struggle with “idols,” such as Brad Pitt or an obsession with having more money. Those were not the ones that I chose. When I was facing fertility challenges, my answer was always the same: “Thou shalt not covet.”
Most people talk about not coveting another person’s spouse or material possessions. That was not the issue for me. Instead, it was coveting their children as well as their ability to make babies whenever they wanted to. That was my issue for a long time.
It is hard to feel happy for everyone around you when they have what you do not. That is the whole point of the “thou shalt not covet” commandment. This is doubly challenging when the drive to become a parent is overwhelming you, but there is nothing you can do to speed things up. It is so unfair that everyone else has a child when you do not, and the feelings of “coveting” can consume you if you do not watch yourself.
Whether or not you are a religious person, you can find value in the Ten Commandments. For example, I am grateful for “thou shalt not murder” because being murdered would really put a crimp in my day. So, what is the value in not coveting?
Coveting what other people have makes you miserable. You measure yourself against the standard of another person and find yourself lacking. Coveting makes you feel badly about yourself, and it steals the opportunity to be sincerely happy for another person.
How do you overcome feelings of covetousness? You need to recognize that another person’s situation does not affect yours. Whether your neighbor has no children or ten, you will still have fertility issues. Your experiences in life are not relative to another person’s experiences.
It is okay to feel frustrated with your situation. The key is finding a way to be happy for others without always focusing back on what you lack. It’s tough to do, which is why that remained my most difficult commandment for a long time.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt