One of my favorite music artists is Erykah Badu. I love her unique style, soulful voice, and the lyrical realness of her songs (I’m thinking of classics like “Appletree”, “Bag Lady”, and “Cleva”, to name a few). I also laugh whenever I see “before and after” pics of rappers she’s dated, like Andre 3000 and Common. It’s hard to imagine that Andre may not have ever created numbers like “Prototype” or Common, “The Light”, without her influence. In essence, her knowledge of self has seemingly attracted and transformed others.
Even with her confidence and out-of-confines creativity, Badu has still had to tackle insecurities like so many of us. My all-time #1 song by Ms. Badu is “Green Eyes”, which was released on her 2000 album ,”Mama’s Gun”. It’s a 10-minute long, genius piece which blends three different sounds into one track. Badu begins with singing,
“My eyes are green ’cause I eat a lot of vegetables. It don’t have nothing to do with your new girl”.
As the track unfolds, she evolves from denying jealously of her ex’s new beau to confessing that maybe she does still love him.
When My Brown Eyes Become Green
While revisiting “Green Eyes” this past Friday, I felt the urge to confront my own moments of jealously. As a child, I was jealous whenever I wished I could steal popularity from the “cool” girls. Before I began embracing my super thick, coarse hair and brown skin, I completely envied those who were more conventionally beautiful. These days, a swarm of negative thoughts might sting me after I over-consume social media or attend certain social gatherings.
Though I wish I never coveted others’ gifts and experiences, I sometimes fall short in being grateful for who I am and what I have. At times, I am even afraid to acknowledge whenever I feel jealous. “Shouldn’t I be beyond that struggle?”, I ask myself.
I am learning, though, that it is important to be honest with myself and God about my battles and feelings, jealously included.
A few nights ago, I prayed after a few days of struggling to do so. I confessed the recent times when I’ve felt jealous or compared myself to others. I asked for forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to move forward. Soon after, I came across a Bible verse that comforted me:
“Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32, New Living Translation of the Bible)
I know my heart won’t ever be fully pure and perfect in this life. I’m human, and shortcomings will continue to reveal themselves. Yet, I hope to become intentional about overcoming jealously as much as possible.
May my love for others, for myself, and for God become less bounded by personal discontent. May my eyes see the beauty of another’s existence and experience without diminishing my own. May yours do the same.
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:22-23, New Living Translation of the Bible)