It was one of those days. I wasn’t sure how to get through a bad day – that was this bad.
“I don’t want to leave the house. I don’t want to put my shoes on. I can’t get dressed. I don’t want to get in the car. I can’t buckle myself in. I don’t want music. I do want music. Mommy, I am hungry. I am not hungry. I am thirsty. I am not thirsty.”
We make it to the car – a small victory!
“Mommy, don’t sing. I don’t like music. I want my window down. I don’t want the wind to hit me.”
Finally, our car pulls into our destination – a huge victory!
Goliath may have been strong and mighty, but all I know is that I felt like David as I walked onto that soccer field. I defeated my giant. I arrived. I did it!
A sense of relief washes over me. I was ready for my time of solace. My time to sit down and cheer on my adorable boy from afar. I can be still. I can sip a drink. I can think. I can recuperate. I can “be”.I give him a little push in the direction of the field, and say, “Have fun, Mommy can’t wait to cheer you on.”If only the story ended here. Because if it did, I could wrap it up with a bow and say, “persevere my sister, all will get better – just obey, be loving and trust God.”
Your pain, your emotions and your story are not for naught. Behind these circumstances God has glory waiting to be unveiled. He has power waiting to be revealed. He has encouragement awaiting your soul. He stands ready to show you how to see God’s glory – hidden in your present day circumstances.
So take hope. For in the moment is pain, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps. 30:5)
The story of the blind man paints an incredible picture for us. He was actually born both blind AND poor. We can only imagine his struggles, his loneliness, his embarrassment and his feelings of hopelessness.
We may ask, “how could this happen to him? Blind and Poor? What hope did he have for work? How demotivated must he have felt?”
Yet, with Christ, all things are possible for those who believe (Mark 9:23).
Jesus often rescued others to reveal his glory – and to better the story.
So, he “spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.” (John 9:6 ESV)
After the blind man applied the mud, Jesus told him to wash his eyes. He did. And – the blind man could see! Imagine his joy when his blurry eyes gave way to the glory held within the eyes of Christ.
When we look at this story, we see Jesus was faithful to heal. But the blind man played an important role too. He had to take a moment, to step out of his suffering, to step out of the place of despair and to get up and walk to the water. He had to obey, when perhaps all he felt like doing was sitting and laughing at the thought of putting mud on his eyes. When all he felt like saying was, “nothing has ever worked for me before”.
But, he got up. He listened. He believed and he obeyed. He took a step towards healing. And, what probably was the biggest prayer of his lifetime – was answered.
God takes pain and exchanges it for glory and power. He comes into our moments of despair and of hopelessness and offers us a new step – when we believe.
When asked earlier why this man was blind, Jesus said it was “…so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”(John 9:3 NIV)
It kind of reminds me of the words Jesus spoke Martha at Lazarus’ tomb, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
When we believe, we perceive the glory of the Lord.
The beauty that God reveals to us often extends beyond our own eyes. It surpasses our benefit. It has some saving work to do.
Because God knows his glory is too amazing to contain. He knows the glory in our story is too fantastic to jar up. We have to share. We have to talk. Come and see what Jesus did – for me – as I believed!
We have seen glory, to shine glory. We shine glory, so that others may believe.
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
God’s glory is BIG – and once revealed – there is no stopping it. Look at how far the Glory of God has shined in this story. We still talk about the healed blind man today. The story encourages us thousands of years later.
Because the blind man overcame, he couldn’t help but proclaim. And the more he proclaimed, the more restored he became. The more he shared the more he believed. His faith is fanned. He can’t contain the glory of the Lord. It is too much to hold inside.
We can learn a valuable lesson from this blind and poor man who had been through so much. No matter our situation, no matter our pain, no matter our suffering – there is glory in our story. Can you see it now? Perhaps not. Will you see it some day? Likely.
Trust God to work and faithfully wait. But, make no mistake, he has hidden glory in your story. He turns our messes into masterpieces – for his purposes.
We are the light bearers for Christ’s glory present day.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Do you feel like you have no light today? Take heart. He will work things out. He will redeem his children. He loves us too much not too. He has not forgotten you. He cares for you.
Wait and see. God has hidden his glory in your story. He shows you how to see God’s glory in your life. While once you were blind, soon you will see. And when you do – Go yell it on a mountain! There are others waiting to learn how to see God’s glory.
I had no idea I was in for one huge scare – and a timely lesson on some key ways to guard your heart – as I walked over to my computer.
I planned to indulge in just a few seconds – of distraction, of indulgence, of entertainment. But, these seconds ended up being seconds that cost me so much.
My eyes darted around the room for my 1-year-old daughter. She was nowhere to be found. I called her name. Nothing. I furiously looked around the room. Nowhere. My heart skipped a beat. Anxiety welled up in my chest. There are so many things that can happen in just seconds. My mind raced. The possibilities overwhelmed me.
Then I heard it—a thump, thump, thump. My worst nightmare was becoming a reality. Something was happening to my baby. She was falling. I sprinted to the most dangerous spot in the house—our stairs. There I saw her – crying on the floor. My heart broke.
My distraction led to this infraction. My preoccupation created a situation. My online enjoyment led to her torment.
How often are you finding that what you seek online—pleasure, satisfaction, fun—leads you to a situation of tribulation? What we do in a matter of a few seconds may have long-lasting repercussions. What makes us feel good or accepted can make others feel the exact opposite: denied and rejected.
As I hugged my crying baby girl, God spoke to the deepest recesses of my heart. It was time I turn away from the internet to think about how I am impacting others. It was time that I look at what my heart is seeking.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
“Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart” (Psalm 26:2 NLT).
My heart needed testing, and God was faithful to show himself.
HE REVEALED 3 WAYS TO GUARD YOUR HEART:
1. Guard it from a distracted mind. I was distracted from the moments that he had given me to experience and enjoy. I loved to see my daughter’s new milestones, but I didn’t get to see her climb those stairs. I missed that moment.
When we immerse ourselves in a screen, we miss the in between.
We miss what God has set before us. We miss his plan and his will. How can we be focused on what he wants when we are focused on what we want? We can’t. We miss out on him. And on our family and our future.
Instead, let’s be attracted to our King, instead of distracted with a screen.
2. Guard it from seeking excessive amusement. “Entertain me! Delight me! Consume me!” That is what I say so often to my screen. Give me a moment of joy in a world that leaves me feeling so empty. Give me a moment of pleasure in a world that hurts. Give me a laugh when I so often want to cry.
We are missing the point. God doesn’t want us to fill our emptiness with amusement. He wants us to fill our emptiness with him. Amusement comes and amusement goes, but God’s love remains forever.
When we are constantly filling our mind with “noise”, we miss what God wants to say in the “silence”.
“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.” (Psalm 101:3)
3. Guard it from seeking FAME over his name. Read my posts. Like me. Favorite me. Retweet me. See me. Accept me. Do you notice the theme? It is all about me.
When the focus is on self, we often put God on a shelf.
“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
It is all about God’s fame. May we proclaim this fame. God’s – the glory, for his story—not ours.
Are you looking online to fill the desires of your heart? God has created you so that you need to rely only on him to fill your every need.
“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9 NLT).
Do you believe this? If so, turn to him. Talk to him. Rely on him. Take joy in him. Distract yourself with him. Amuse yourself in him. Seek his fame.
When we are looking for his glory, he presents a beautiful story. He will be faithful to give you seconds that will serve as priceless memories.
Hold his hand and take a moment – free of distractions – to look in his eyes; his beauty will astound you.
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.
This random Saturday morning, I had no idea that being stuck in NYC traffic was going to teach me a life-changing lesson on how to take charge of your expectations…
When my son laid eyes on just about the biggest big rig ever seen, his eyes light up as bright as a kid on Christmas morning.
“Roll the window down!” he yelled.
With utter urgency, his little fist started pumping – up and down, up and down. This would have been really cute, except for the fact that I was contending with New York City stop-and-go traffic.
Getting directly next to this truck was going to be a feat in itself. With 2 kids sitting in the backseat on the verge of tears and on the brink of disaster, I knew what I had to do.
“Super Mommy” needed to come to the rescue – in a big way!
Nothing would stop me from making my little boy’s dreams come true.
Finally, after much breaking and accelerating, I got my son in perfect hand thrusting position! Yes!
The driver was delighted. Mikey was delighted. I was delighted. Everyone was happy. We all shared a moment of fun as the truck let out a massive “honk!”. Victory! Happiness! Joy! The truck driver and I threw out some quick pleasantries, a couple of laughs and then he kept on truckin’.
Meanwhile, on one of the busiest freeways of NYC, I was guilty of the unthinkable! I let two cars slip into line in front of me. I inadvertently left open the tiniest of gaps on a freeway where most people don’t give you an inch. And, in true New York fashion, these opportunist drivers took advantage of my gap.
Our final moments of celebration were cut short when the SUV behind us pulled his car right next to ours. With a red face and a quickly moving mouth, he signaled me to roll down my window.
Anxiety welled up in me. I knew what was coming. Afraid, I rolled down my window down.
His anger was palpable, “What is wrong with you? You let two cars get in front of you! What are you doing? Pay attention lady!”
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Some way, some how, God gave me peace as I responded to this man. He needed peace. So peace I gave him, not as the world gives.
I felt for him.
In his own attempt to get ahead, to be effective and efficient, he turned into a mad man. The irony of the situation is that, after he yelled at me, he cut up the line and gained a significant head, but as traffic freed, much to my discomfort, we still ended up side by side further down the road. All his maneuvering made no difference in his ultimate progress.
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)
In his quest to rush, to get ahead and to power through, he got nowhere. His impatience didn’t propel him forward; it landed him right where he would have been if he had kept his cool.
How often are we like this man? How often do we have expectations that rule us?
Expectations Can Drive Us Mad
You may be thinking, I would never be like “that”! But, I find I’m guilty of being a “mad woman” too. I often take measures into my own hands to get things “accomplished”. I rush to get to my “destination”, only to get frustrated when others hold me back. I “speed” to the least populated checkout lines at the store and become agitated when the cashier is the “slow” one. I rush through bedtime stories with my son, in order to arrive at my “chill time”.
Unsaid expectations can rule me. I think, “How dare “that person” mess up “my plans”, get in “my way” or “hold me” back?”
These expectations leave me sad, upset and irritated when things don’t go my way.
Are expectations just demands wrapped in a bow to cover their ugliness? Is God even present in these demands? Or, is he just the one we feel upset at when we don’t get our way?
How To Take Charge of your Expectations
God doesn’t give us what we want. He doesn’t answer us. He doesn’t hear us. And, others hinder our success. They block our lane. They get us “stuck”.
With all this focus on our personal progress, we miss big opportunities. The opportunity to love. The opportunity to serve. The opportunity to encourage. The opportunity to witness, to see God’s glory and to understand truth. Why? Because our one-track mind speeds to our destination of choice – and the needs of others become the red lights that stop us.
What are your destinations? Maybe it’s education, maybe it’s a ministry, maybe it’s getting your kids into the best schools, maybe its your comfort, maybe its saving money, maybe it’s climbing the professional ladder, looking great for a playgroup, decorating your house, taking care of your yard, buying that house or (fill in the blank).
Are you missing the journey, the glory, and the people who need you?
Let’s not drive in vain. Let’s slow down and see the scenery that God has set before us. Let’s take a minute to look around,
soak it in and delight in the glory the Lord is displaying.
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
The truth is God hasn’t – and won’t – forget about us. He knows our dreams, our hopes and our wishes. He knows what we hope for. He knows us. We don’t need to rev up our cars and fill up our tanks in vain – he has an unlimited supply of gas for us, when we trust him. He will get us where we want to go- in his timing. Do you trust Him?
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
When we let go of our need for speed, we will be freed- freed to love, freed to experience peace and freed to see Him work.
God has something special prepared for us in the midst of our “traffic”. If you feel like you are stuck and you don’t know how to take charge of your expectations – the answer is that you don’t take charge. Instead, you let go of your will and surrender to His.
He will take care of you. He sees you. He has big plans for you – for his glory.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
Release your expectations into His Hands. To Take Charge of Your Expectations – you let him take charge.
You will be amazed at what He does.
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.
It is almost as if I have been groomed to compare.
I remember the school bell ringing. I was the first to run outside. My chest constricted with excitement as I dreamed of what this hour held. I couldn’t throw my book bag down quick enough. As I plopped myself on the ground, and pulled open my Care Bears lunch box, my mind dreamed of the possibilities. Pudding? Peanut butter crackers? Chocolate Milk? Oreos? Eager anticipation and hopefulness was a daily ritual. I relished in the anticipation of “what could be”.
But, I am not sure why I did this when I knew exactly what my lunch box held – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with side of banana. My usual.
I continued in my daily habit – right setting eyes on my lunch – I would peer from lunch box to lunch box surveying their goods. What did they get? Pudding? Oreos? Brownies? I wonder if a banana is trade-able? How does my food look in comparison to theirs? Do they think that I am lame because I have nothing to trade? Am I am weird because I can’t take part in the trading game called “food”? Who notices that I eat the same thing everyday?
I couldn’t stop comparing. But, what I was really asking is, “Do I measure up?”
Underneath the peanut butter and jelly sandwich sitting in my lunch box, my questions were much deeper. I wanted confirmation of my self worth in order to satiate the deepest depths of my soul.
I was looking to see if others counted me less valuable because I didn’t have what they had. I was looking for worth. I was looking to be valued as a contributor. I was looking to be appreciated. I was looking to feel special.
Even today, these feelings don’t go away. Even if we aren’t comparing ourselves to others, don’t we all desire to feel valuable, worthy, appreciated, admired, acknowledged? These desires are not intrinsically wrong.
But, God has more for us than jealous eyes that constantly size up the quality of the lunch box sitting next to us. He wants us to see more. Live greater. Discover life in a richer sense. He wants us to live abundantly in the identity that he has uniquely given us – not in one set by the standard of “others”.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
We may know he knows us in our mind. But, do we know it in our hearts? Let’s journey together to battle through the pitfall of comparing ourselves to others so that we can live a life of joy, contentment and peace.
God has something incredible in store for you, despite what others are doing or saying! You were created for amazing, incredible, awe-inspiring works – in Him. Keep your eyes on Him – not others – and he will show you the exact way you should walk so that you find areas of joy and fulfillment.
For we are his workmanship,created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Wake up. Drink coffee. Spend 5 minutes with God. Rush to get ready. Handle day’s work or home activities. Drive. Pay bills. Have some difficult conversations. Think about lunch. Think about life. Think about money. Dinner. TV. Think about health. Think about the future. Brush teeth. Think about family. Think about worries. Think about fears. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat.
It is no wonder that we don’t feel “lasting peace”. Life feels like a rat race that never ends. And, our minds are like a gerbil that goes round and round and round in a wheel that is constantly spinning.
Day after day, we hurry hoping that something changes. Hoping that maybe we will get enough, buy enough or eat enough, to make ourselves feel enough. But, no matter how much we consume, life never seems to satisfy.
Isn’t there more than this frustrating cycle? Didn’t God intend for us to have lasting peace, more joy and more purpose?
The answer is yes. He has so much more for us than worried rushed peace-less living.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)
If we really want lasting peace, we are wise to think about what we are thinking about.
Our thought processes determine our feelings and our actions. If we are worrying, fearing and consumed with things of this world, we will feel fearful. We will lack lasting peace. If we are focused on God’s truth, what is noble, what is right by his eyes, things that are pure and lovely and admirable, we will embrace lasting peace. We will live lasting peace.
It is no wonder that God tells us how to think and then he follows it up with “…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9)
God calls on us to be obedient in our thoughts. Not perfect, but obedient. When we focus on what he values, he blesses us with himself and his presence. We don’t need to reach for some new thing to fill us with peace or contentment. We need only to reach up to him. God comes as the answer in our quest for lasting peace. His requirement? That we trust him at his word. That we focus our minds. That we think and dwell on things that are uplifting and true.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
When we obey, we have a chance to witness God’s faithfulness. He will come and grant us lasting peace in our hearts. He will make himself at home within our mind because we have prepared it as holy ground for Him to reside. As a result, we will find a place of safety, a place of refuge, a place of escape – as we sit in his presence.
He will refresh us in him. This is true and lasting peace.
God is the ultimate peacemaker. This is who He is.
When the rat race has you running on empty, welcome him into your mind and let him fill you with his peace – that transcends all understanding.
I was praying hard. I had others praying hard. I shared. I trusted. I hoped. I dreamed.
So, when I found out that my dreams were not becoming a reality, and that I had been rejected, I felt dejected. God seemed to be opening a door and ushering me through it, but just as quickly as the door opened, he lightly closed it shut right before my eyes. Staring at the wooden door, my heart sunk a little. My chest constricted. Fears welled up inside of me. I could no longer see what was on the other side. That scared me and made me feel unsure. I thought, maybe if I take a couple steps back – get a running lead – I can just slam that door down. I could do it. I could push through. I can make it happen.
Could I? Should I?
When I took a moment to close my eyes, to stop staring at that door, I got a sense of what was underneath my feelings. I was embarrassed. I felt like I had failed. Others knew of my dream and how much I wanted it. I felt ashamed; “Super Kelly” couldn’t do it. I felt like they would see that God didn’t pull through for me. That maybe, I wasn’t good enough.
But as I opened my eyes and focused on that door again, I noticed the wood, the grain, the splinters and most of all I noticed the cross. I saw Jesus – the ultimate reject. The ultimate failure in the eyes of some. He was mocked and scorned. Jesus, like me, had a partially unanswered prayer. He said, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus though, despite his pain, was looking for godly gain. Above his need for immediate deliverance, he embraced perseverance. He endured humiliation for the plan of his King – a plan to save us.
Jesus didn’t take the opportunity to exert his godly power and take himself down from the cross. He was faithful. He trusted. He waited. He served others on the cross – even in his pain. He wasn’t knocking down any doors.
He knew the King’s plan and purpose. I can trust this plan too – because it is from him. I don’t need to fear. He has directed my steps to writing and speaking. He has given me his words and his inspiration. He has helped me to encourage others and to change lives. He has given me excitement and passion. He has allowed many publishers be receptive to the message that I want to bring to a world of hurting women through a book. Although this one publisher shut the door – for now – this does not negate his plan.
To know my purpose is a blessing that is unique, special and sometimes unusual. He chose me. That cannot be taken away.
I must remember there is a plan greater than mine, for a purpose bigger than mine, at a time better than mine. Our ways are not his ways.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Instead of knocking down doors, what am I to do? Pursue, follow through, and renew my strength in the Lord. Faithfully move forward with the other publisher. Build a platform as they want me to do. Speak truth to my soul when I start to feel less than. Know that God is in charge. Understand that he knows what he is doing.
I won’t take my eyes off of that shut door that stands like the cross. It represents all Christ did for me. It stands as an example of how much he loves me. It stands to give me purpose and significance. It stands to bring a message of love to others. It stands to change the world. Jesus didn’t go to these lengths – on that cross – to steal my joy, my dreams and His plan from me. And, he won’t steal yours either.
When we have unanswered prayers, we can choose to trust the one who is sovereign over all or we can choose to live defeated and discouraged. I know which way I will go. How about you?