The other day, as we (meaning my husband) shoveled back the snow from our house, I spotted this:
I was amazed at how, even though 2-feet of snow had covered these daffodils for months, they will were still pushing up from the ground.
How does that happen?
The truth is – nothing can thwart God’s plan. Nothing can hold back his growth.
Things may look covered by foot-after-foot of weight,
but he is still at work underneath it all.
When the time – is the time – his seed will grow.
When our hearts are ready – he will bloom us.
When our life is perfectly prepared – our beauty can be seen by all.
Yet, the deep freeze is part of the process. We sometimes have to endure the cold times to get to the warm times, blooming times. And sometimes we have to endure the cold times, to appreciate the warm times.
So, when life gets grey, dull and gloomy, this does not mean that God is not at work, because he is. Even if we can’t see what he is doing, even if we feel like we are buried under pounds of pounds of snow, even if it seems that spring will never come and our season will never change, God is always at work.
We don’t have to see it to believe it. We believe it because he has promised it.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)
I have felt buried so many times. I have been buried under finances, under a promised diagnosis of MS, under relationship strains, under worries, under anxiety, under my past, under a hopeless future – my friends, you probably name it – and I have been under it.
Yet, looking back, I see that God was always growing me. He was always restoring what should have been dead.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Pet. 5:10)
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)
Whether the locusts ate it, the land froze it or
your heart buried it,
God restores, rebuilds and renews..
He renews the buds that are within and waters them to grow again.
Seasons come and seasons go, but God’s love endures forever.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.
What holds you back? What hinders you? What prevents you from going all-in, crazy wild for Jesus?
Is it others?
What is it?
When I look at my life, I see a whole lot of blessings, but I also see a whole lot of comfort. Comfort that wraps me warm and snuggly. So warm, that sometimes I don’t want to look beyond my TV – or even the walls of my house.
Comfort that second-guesses spending time with others.
Comfort that makes it difficult to give and to let go.
Comfort that doesn’t allow me to see all that God has for me. Comfort that keeps me stuck.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)
Are we gaining the world or are we gaining God?
Because a life stuck in this world is a life stuck in futility.
And a life stuck in futility, is a life without utility.
To live without utility, gives us no ability to glorify God’s nobility.
Complacency, comfort and carelessness about our condition become our greatest inhibition.
But, God is calling us. Wooing us. Pleading that we come.
Do you hear Him?
He is waiting.
He has more for us than the good “American Life”.
He will blow our socks off.
Knock us down with purpose.
Stagger us with joy.
If we let him.
Or, we can continue living in the status-quo, as we always have – content.
But are we really content?
Is enough ever enough?
Perhaps God is saying…”Accepting good, is missing amazing.”
When we exchange good things for our great God, we miss the immense blessings he has prepared for us.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)
It’s easy to walk by stagnant faith, rehearsed truths and clichéd lines, but if we want to see crazy exciting acts of God, we have to step out of “safety” and into “risky”.
“Risky” that takes time to hear God’s call. “Risky” that prays for equipping. “Risky” that sacrifices all to accomplish his purposes. “Risky” that doesn’t see the way, but walks by faith. “Risky” that doesn’t stop, that keeps going, that presses on until the work is completed. “Risky” that avoids demanding approval or affirmation, but instead trusts in eternal rewards.
Why aren’t I risky like this? When I take a deep look, I see, what holds me back – is me, myself and I. I am afraid. I am afraid to go to the place where I lose all control. I am afraid to see where he will take me. I am afraid.
Will it really be good?
Will he really be there for me?
Will I be good enough for Him?
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Heb. 11:1)
When we can’t see, we walk by real faith, life changing faith and powerful faith.
We can walk this way, because he has proven his faithfulness time and time again.
He has helped us and he will help us.
He has guided us and he will guide us.
He has shown up and he will show up.
Remember his faithfulness – in the past – to follow his call – today.
We are called “followers of Jesus”, so let’s do the following part. Let’s cast aside all that holds us back and go “risky” with Jesus. It’s so worth it! He will equip us. He will help us. We can do this.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb. 12:1)
My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.
My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.
I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.
Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes? He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.
His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.
How much of our attitude is just like his? One of discontentment?
How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s? How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?
What does God think about this?
It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own. We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.
The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it. He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.
Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”? Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.
10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:
10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)
If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t. Why? We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.
9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.
Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ). However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.
While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)
7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.
We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods. God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)
6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.
If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short. He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.
Frankly, we may have less than another today. But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow. If we are always playing the comparison game – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa. Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle? It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)
4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.
He will provide for our deepest needs. We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.
In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface. It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)
2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.
“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security. What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)
1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.
The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted. The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)
We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift. We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.
Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting. She only held a drop of milk. His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.
What has the Lord placed in front of you? Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift?
***Sign up to receive an almost daily dose of encouragement. Get these blog posts by email. CLICK HERE!
I try to so hard to “do good”. I try so hard to keep everyone happy. I try so hard to keep things in order, to make others feel good, to do things the right way, to be all that I can be – and to be who others want to see.
I try and I try and I try. But, I fail and I fail and I fail. It can be tiring. It leaves me worn, discouraged and wishing I could be better than – me.
Even worse, I notice that in my pursuit of perfection, I tend to hurt others. I don’t want to do this. But, I do.
It is a common day, when simple words of feedback, turn into living giants of criticism. They come and tower over me with pointed fingers, telling me that I am not “good enough”, “talented enough” or “wise enough” to handle life. They push me to strive harder and reinforce the idea that I am failing.
Why do we let these giants hold so much power?
When we seek to set our own worth, we fail. Because only One defines worth.
Any worth found outside of Him is worthless.
God writes the definition of who we are – and why we are.
I may seek worth in bills paid, things in order and a happy family, but God gives us his worth. We are worthy because we are his children, loved and fully accepted.
God has a greater glory is greater than our manufactured version. His glory surpasses expectations. It exceeds our wildest dreams. It is bigger than you or me. But, we miss seeing it when our mind is focused on our perfect ways.
His glory unfolds in the midst of weakness. In the place of imperfection. In the land of mess.
God is greater than our perfect. He shows up in our faults. He is present in our weaknesses.
This is where beauty is unveiled; and I want to see it. Christ makes my imperfect – perfect. Perfect in Him, as I trust Him.
I want this better way. Let’s remind ourselves of God’s truth as we move towards him with authentic, open and receiving hearts. He will be faithful to touch us in just the right way.
Bible Verses for Perfectionists:
1. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32)
His strength is power.
2. “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14)
We are being made holy. We are a work in process.
3. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)
He is greater than any barrier that stands in front of us.
4. Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)
His mercy does not end for us because he loves us.
5. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… (Eph. 2:8)
Grace is always ours, even when we fail.
6. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14)
He made us beautifully. We can believe this.
7. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
He holds us and loves us; his hand won’t let go of us – ever!
8. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
His ways are easy, when we truly are in them.
9. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
We are not perfect. He is.
10. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Let us be weak, because we can then be strong in Him.
God doesn’t view our weaknesses as obstacles to closeness with him; he sees them as opportunities for growth as he loves us.
I recently read a famous author’s article and thought, “I could write a better story than this.” It’s embarrassing to admit. My words were spoken through a heart of jealousy.
Comparison, like a teeter-totter, lifted me higher than she was – for a moment. I felt good. I felt high. I felt powerful. And then, as fast as I went up, I came crashing down.
As I began my descent, a little voice asked, “If you are so good, why aren’t you like her? How come you aren’t doing what she is doing? Why bother Kelly? You don’t measure up. Quit.” Slam.
The impact of comparing can be shocking. It often leaves us discouraged as we fall to the ground, feeling disappointed in who we are. Up and down the teeter-totter goes – feel good, feel bad, feel high, feel low. What goes up must come down.
So, how do we gain lasting steady confidence? How do we beat the up-and-down rhythm of comparing? How do we deal with ourselves when we feel less than? It is time you found out how to stop comparing.
HOW TO STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS – 3 TIPS:
1. Anticipate the Lure of Comparing & Preemptively Fight
Thoughts of comparison are like a fly, they often land on us before we realize – and are gone before we can take action. What are we to do? We need to fight the lure in advance – before it even lands. We do this by examining our areas of vulnerability.
Examine Yourself: Where do I feel less than?
Where do I feel prideful?
What do I feel I am lacking?
How have I failed?
What areas of my life do I normally fall prey to “comparing”?
What are are my greatest dreams? Hopes?
How can I pray for those who are doing better than me?
How can I encourage those who are doing better and less than me?
What can I be thankful for?
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40 NIV).
We are wise to open the door to our vulnerabilities and to welcome thankfulness in our lives. When equipped this way, we can more easily shut (and lock) the door to the temptation of comparing.
2. Bless & Decompress.
One of the greatest things we can do to combat comparing is to pray.
When we pray, we find a better way. When we:
Pray for our weaknesses, we find strength.
For our failures, we find hope.
For our dreams, we find new doors.
For our pride, we find authenticity.
For those in need, we find love.
For those more successful, we find a softened heart.
For those less than, we find charity.
For eyes to see like Christ, we find faith, hope and love.
We pray and God answers us with eternal rewards – lasting, meaningful and transformational rewards. Prayer changes us. Rather than looking for how much value we get, we start to see how much value we can give.
Instead of seeing our size compared to man, God shows us our size compared to Him.
He can – and will – bless many.
He is not an either/or kind of God. So, we can stop comparing, pray big and dream big for others!
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 NIV)
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)
3. See Yourself as God Sees You.
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7
To think that we will ever be without weakness, without hardships, without areas that need improvement, is not reality. God created each of us with both strengths and weaknesses. And, although the world tells us that we need to shape up or ship out, God just wants us to rely on Him in the midst of pain. He wants us to look at ourselves created in his image.
to believe his truths and let them sink into the depths of our souls.
He created you uniquely and he loves you uniquely. He wants you to rely on Him. To trust Him. To draw near to Him.
He knows what he is doing. Posture your heart towards him and trust him to manage the rest. You are a work in progress – and he won’t finish until his masterpiece is finished.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)
***BONUS TIP: Embrace Grace
No one is perfect – not one. Jesus didn’t die for us to be perfect; he died to extend us grace. We are growing more and more into the likeness of Christ, but it is a process. God has you covered – with the blood of Christ. Rest your deficiencies in the arms of Christ. He desires to hold your pain and work them to accomplish his goal in the most exciting exhilarating ways.
Now that you know how to stop comparing, trust him and let go of the up and down ride of comparing that only serves to leave you wind blown and frustrated.
Now that you have learned how to stop comparing, be sure you don’t miss Part I (The Shocking Truth about Comparing) & Part II (3 Ways Comparing is Bad) of the Comparing Series.
“Look at her. She has it all. It must have been easy for her. She doesn’t have the same barriers that I have. I could do that too if I had the financial resources that she has, the support she has, the backing, the connections. She is confident. Nothing can take her down. I want to be like her, but I will never be as good, as insightful or as knowledgeable. I can’t. I will never do “BIG” things. She’s the whole package. I may as well give up.”
Comparing is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It brings us down and settles us in a place of insecurity. When “comparing” is our companion, we are only as secure as the depth of another’s weakness.
How sad is that? Our strength balances on our assessment of another’s faults, lack of material items or “less than” appearance.
“COMPARING” STANDS AND TAUNTS: “I think I am prettier. I am smarter. I am happier.”
“My car is better. My house is better. My family is better”
” I am less than you. I am nothing.”
“You are better than me. I may as well give up.”
“You are respected. I feel dejected.”
“You are so put together. I am ready to fall apart.”
“You are so rich. Why can’t I have more?”
“Your clothes are perfect. Mine are outdated.”
“You have a neat house. I interact with my kids more.”
“You have kids that show you love. I have a neater house.”
“You may know so much about God. I think I love others more.”
“You love others. I know more about the Bible & God.”
“You serve. My faith is stronger.”
“You do so much. God loves me less”
“You are so “insert judgment here”, I am so “insert feel good response here”. “You are so “insert praise here”, I am so “insert a “less than” comment here”.
Aren’t we made for more than this?
Comparing takes us on the up and down roller coaster ride – called “judgment”.
And, it drops us off feeling inflated or deflated.
3 WAYS COMPARING IS BAD FOR US:
1. OTHERS BECOME THE BAROMETER OF OUR WORTH.
We feel unvaluable. So, we either look to others to confirm our worst suspicions or we look to put others down to lift ourselves up. Either way, others hold the power to sink us or to let us swim.
We win or lose. There is no middle ground. We are either better than or less than. No matter, we always stand ready to fall. Our position is constantly threatened – there is always someone who is better, who has more or who is more talented.
“In all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” (2 Cor. 10:12 Msg)
2. WE MISS “LOVE”.
Notice the theme of comparing? It is all about “US”! What if the person we are so quick to judge, has a life that is stuck in the sludge? What if they need encouragement, love and help? What if they feel worse than you?
When we compare, we have eyes that only see our own pain. We were created to love others. We completely miss the point of this when our greatest pursuit is seeking our own worth.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16) Let’s make it about His story, not our glory.
3. WE MISS GOD’S GLORY IN OUR WEAKNESS.
You may be asking yourself, “Why is this bad? It is good to rely on yourself. At least then you are in control.”
When we rely on ourselves, we miss the chance to see God as he fills up our weak areas. We miss his glory as he works out his story. We miss the opportunity to learn about ourselves – as we trust Him. We miss the opportunity to see how he wants us to grow in love. We miss so much.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10 NIV)
We now have a great understanding of the 3 ways comparing is bad and damaging for us. Be encouraged, in Part III we will look at the 3 Ways you Can Overcome “Compare” to Find Repair.
God is a God of grace, love and forgiveness. We have all fallen into comparing at some time or another; he loves you and has a plan to help you change. Comparing is bad, but God is good. He has great plans to help you.