Elizabeth Berg quote that describes envy as “the cockroaches of the soul”

What to do with Envy

Envy lies as dormant desire buried alive. Nothing buried alive is beautiful.


In her book Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True, Elizabeth Berg describes envy as “the cockroaches of the soul”. As we know, they are terribly difficult to eradicate but attempts must be made at all costs for the sake of our own sanity.


When a desire becomes so deeply abandoned, only someone else’s success—in that specific area—can kick it back into my conscious realm. Although feelings of envy are incredibly embarrassing to admit and difficult to deal with, when the dark things roam, I am learning to read them as simple signposts that my desires are still alive.


Action is needed.


It’s a sign that…


  • I have some parts of my heart that I need to invite God into
  • Goals and ambitions may need to be filtered of selfishness
  • Surrender is needed
  • Requests for help are needed in areas where I’ve only used my own strength and not asked God for wisdom
  • I need to grow in trust, patience, obedience, and ultimately dependence on the Almighty to help me meet that specific need


Without his nose in the air or single whiff of disgust, God in His great mercy and love marches right into that kitchen of my mind and chases away all the dirty critters. He cleans out that infested place of unmet need, failure, disappointment, bitter jealousy, despondency of my not having enough, and deposits in it a measure of grace for the moment.


It clangs to the bottom like the first coin in a new piggy bank. It’s an odd thing to have a deposit of any kind in this place. I am suddenly thankful for the little. At this moment, a little is enough.

“…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5B NIV


“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” – Isaiah 55:7-8 NIV


“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” – James 4:1-3 NIV