Tag: comparison (page 1 of 2)

What’s Your Super-power?

“If you could have any ‘super-power’ what would it be?”

That was the ice-breaker question posed at a women’s gathering I attended. Peals of laughter could be heard from different small groups around the room as women shared a desire for everything from a “Bewitched” nose twitch to clean their kids’ mess, to a cloaking devise, to the ability to be “beamed up” out of uncomfortable situations.

It’s a fun question to think about, but unfortunately we often seriously compare ourselves to others and think “Oh…I wish I had THAT ‘super-power’!” The gifts and talents others have can seem so “SUPERior” in light of our own that can feel so ordinary.

There are two reasons comparison is so dangerous. When we compare, the result is either pride or despair. Neither are pleasing to God, right? 

As women, I think we’re more prone to the despair end of the spectrum. Satan’s kryptonite seems to be that diabolical little word “as”.

He whispers,

“Not as pretty as…”

Not as good a mom as…”

“Not as popular as…”

“Not as smart as…”

Recently, my small group did a book study, and there is one line from Genesis 3:11 that we have gotten in the habit of repeating to one another when we feel discouraged or “less than”,

This is from Genesis 3: 9-11  when God is talking to Adam:

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked;so I hid.”

 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?

God knows HE  didn’t tell Adam he was naked.

Is the message you’re hearing really from God? Or is it from someone else? 

After all, God is the One who said you are fearfully and wonderfully made, the One who said He has created good plans in advance for you to do, the One who said He has called you by name, you are His – His chosen, His beloved, the one He sings over…

So today, instead of comparing, let’s remember this…

One Thing We Have in Common With John

It’s weird to think of having anything in common with the people we meet in Scripture, and yet, what an encouragement, right?!

A couple weeks ago as I was preparing an Easter sermon, something struck me that I hadn’t really thought about before.

In John, the apostle, I notice something positive I aspire to, and a weakness we share. Read what John wrote…

John 20: 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

This is both cool and comical!

I love it that John is so grounded in the unshakeable knowledge that he is the one Jesus LOVES!

We are too – each of us as if we are the ONLY one! Like a proud parent, if Jesus carried a wallet, your picture would be in it and He’d want to show it to others with delight! This is the mindset we aspire to – that we would walk into each day with the assurance that we are beloved. No matter what we do or don’t do.

But then, the part that makes me laugh. Here’s he’s writing about the resurrection, but John makes a point of telling us TWICE that he beat Peter to the tomb. He ran faster!

I might be tempted to say “What a guy thing!”, but in our family the women are just as competitive as the men. There is this temptation in each of us to compare what we DO to what others do, even though Jesus tells us it’s not about what we DO, but about what He has DONE for us.

No matter how fast John or you, or I run, we can’t outrun God’s grace.

When we compare, there are two pitfalls. We either get sucked into pride because we’re better than, or despair because we’re worse than. Jesus wants us to know that we aren’t better or worse, but unique and beloved.

John isn’t the only one. Peter compares his life to John’s too.

John 21: 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believersthat this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?

When I’m tempted to compare myself to others, this is what I hear Jesus whispering in my ear: “What is that to you?”

Later, Paul writes, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Phil.4:11 NIV

One writer notes, “The Greek word rendered ‘content‘ here denotes more than just a throwing up of arms in reluctant acceptance. At its root it literally means: ‘to be satisfied to the point where I am no longer disturbed or disquieted.'”

“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Phil. 4:13 MSG

May we live this day secure, not superior.

Confident without comparing.

 

The Most Important Time to Unplug

Years ago during a long, snowy, Minnesota winter, our girls built a luge run over our deck stairs ten feet high, down through the back yard to the pond below.

As Maggie prepped for her initial run on a plastic sled, she asked John to stand at the edge of the pond and promise to catch her if she was going so fast that she might slide onto the ice which was thin.

John reassured her over and over again. No problem. He would catch her no matter what.

You can guess what’s coming, right?

Maggie zipped down the luge and flew right past her father’s outstretched arms so fast that he actually jumped back instead of catching her and into the slushy pond she went.

Shocked, scared, mad, betrayed, sad, wounded…WET.

We all have ice-crashing moments when there is a tumult of emotion and our first reaction is often to reach for a security blanket that may look like our phone, TV, or computer. 

If you’re like me, maybe you do this because our drive in emotional turmoil is either to escape or to vent.

However, ice-crashing moments are the exact time that it is most important to unplug. I write this because I experienced an ice-crashing moment last week and in the aftermath I learned some things about myself that may be true for you too.

Texting, TV, or social media is dangerous in emotional times because it:

  • Distracts from issues that need to be faced. I don’t think a Netflix marathon with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is always a bad thing at all, but if we don’t do the hard work of being still with God alone, we will default to emotion and letting unhealthy tapes play over and over in our head.

We need to look hard at the emotion and interrogate it. Ask where it is coming from. Where is the truth? What would the Enemy like me to believe? What is the most life-giving response I can embrace?

  • Demands that we DO something too quickly. The relentless 24/7 access to information, noise, voices tends to amp up our sense of urgency. There is a word in scripture translated “terrified” that is the Greek word, “tarasso” which means “to set in motion what needs to remain still”.

Betrayal + quickly written emails = disaster.

Anger + quickly posted tweet = disaster.

Fear + quickly posted FB warning = disaster.

When we stay plugged in we may be tempted to set something in motion when instead we need to remain still.

  • Distances us from Jesus. How often is my phone the first thing I reach for – to vent to a friend when I have an ice-crashing moment? How often do I put an electronic device between me and Jesus, thinking, I’ll get around to talking to Him at some point, but really I’m obsessed with strategizing my way out of the discomfort? My goal isn’t really getting His perspective, but controlling the situation instead.
  • Discourages us through comparison. Turning to social media after an ice-crashing moment will do one of two things. It will make us proud because we will see others who are much “losier” that we are, or it will make us feel defeated because EVERYONE we look at has it all together. Neither is a great option.

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My phone is my security blanket. The best decisions I made last week were the times I distanced myself from it and left it at home. Maybe that’s not true for you. Maybe it’s something else that needs to be unplugged or left alone when you have an ice-crashing moment. What’s your experience been?

What to do with the Ugly

I was sitting across from a friend, interviewing him for a little video resource when he said something that caught me off-guard and immediately brought tears of hurt and shame to my eyes.

It was like being stung by a bee when you’re cutting flowers.

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I was upset, but more than that, I was upset with myself for being upset. I finished the interview and got in my car with John, silently reflecting on why and where the emotion had come from.

The answer was embarrassing. It was pride, pure and simple.

As I asked my friend a question on camera, he excitedly shared something he learned recently from a cool hipster pastor in our area. It is a spiritual practice I have written about a lot, and church leaders have found helpful since the 1500’s. But here, publicly, it was being attributed to the stupid hipster pastor.

I thought, “What about ME??? What about MY words, MY influence?”

And I felt small and overlooked and inconsequential. And so dang angry that I felt that way!

Have you ever felt dinged for not being acknowledged or overlooked for credit or affirmation you’d like to receive (in your secret heart of hearts)?

What do we do with All Of The Feelings?

What do we do with the ugly?

There is a verse that I think we often whoosh by, that came to mind as I drove away with John.

James 5:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. MSG

So I screwed up my courage (because truly I was so embarrassed that this mattered to me) and confessed to John what I was feeling.

It was so dang hard to be honest about this because I want to appear secure and confident and never petty. But there was this ugliness and when I confessed it, you know what? John wasn’t shocked, and he still loves me, and  the power of the ding, like infection, seemed to drain out of me.

I am in the spiritually challenged slow group when it comes to learning this stuff, but there are three practices I keep coming back to when ugly emotions threaten to derail me: Continue reading

When You Feel Unvaluable

My top three strengths are “activator” and “achiever” and “woo”. That means I really, really, really want to do ALL OF THE THINGS, to be awesome, and to have you like me.

So it stung, hearing the words. Out loud.  Again. A phrase similar to others I’ve heard over the years.

My husband John was recounting his day and a meeting he had had with a member of the church who had listened and given insight on the future of our faith community. John and his colleague in the meeting asked this awesomely awesome guest to return for another hour of conversation.

Of course this will be pay-rolled!  We value your gifts and talents and expertise, so ABSOLUTELY we’ll pay you for your time!”

“Said no one to me ever”, is the place my slightly over-dramatic mind went to as I listened to him.

Validation. Whether you’re twenty-something, or….well, not… we all long for it and even when we get it in one form, we want more, or different.  We’re desperate to know we matter.  We add value.  We make a difference. Continue reading

Birthdays, Feeling the Awesomeness, and a Spiritual Practice

A little re-post from a couple years ago…Have a happy Monday and remember you’re awesome! (even without a hat)

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Here’s an email one of our daughters sent to friends recently, asking them to save October 15th.  Why that day?   Here’s what she wrote:

“Because it’s magical.  Because it’s the day of my birth!  And I demand that you all celebrate with me.  I don’t have an exact plan yet, but you can assume that it will involve you all, celebratory beverages, and you all telling me how glad you are that I was born.

I love it!  Now of course she was writing that tongue in cheek.  She’s not at all arrogant, but unlike most of us, she does have a pretty healthy self-image. 

I, on the other hand, am more like the rest of the world, and deal with insecurity in varying degrees depending on how many cookies I’ve eaten, a song I heard on the radio, and the barometric pressure that day.

I love Mark Batterson’s thought: “Our focus determines our reality.”

Am I focusing on ME and how I stack up compared to everyone else?  Or am I focusing on GOD and the truth that I am a beloved child of His and He delights in me? Continue reading

2 Questions, 2 Truths

When you I write a blog post I rarely never have the time to find all the scrumptious words or present my offering with the “voila!” of someone serving a gourmet feast at Thanksgiving.

But this morning, more than most, I feel like I’m serving up “bare naked chicken” – just a couple of things I’ve been thinking about that seem to go together.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a sermon podcast by Craig Groeschel and honestly I can’t remember the point of the sermon because as an aside (not having to do with the message at all), he said his counselor had asked him two questions.

Those two questions are what my mind keeps returning to.  Here’s what they are: Continue reading

Is there Room in Your Chariot?

This past summer at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit I had the opportunity to live blog for Engage Churches, a part of the Willow Creek Association.  I was blown away listening to the teaching of Chris Brown, a pastor at North Coast Church in California.  Here’s some of what I wrote that day…

This afternoon, Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown, a different Chris Brown) started with the story of a man approaching a campfire.  Creeping forward, and then walking back into the shadows while others by the campfire gossip about his failed leadership around the issue of a certain giant named Goliath.

The man is King Saul.  For over a month Saul has been called out and he knows he doesn’t have what it takes.  His ministry is  paralyzed.  His leadership is paralyzed.  He’s a leader in trouble who is bailed out by a kid named David.

And then it goes out on Twitter (as it were).  1 Sam. 18:5-9 “Saul has killed his thousands.  David his ten thousands.”

Huh??  Big gasp.  How is Saul going to react?

“From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

Saul didn’t have room in his chariot for David, the young twerp who bested him.

Leaders struggle with jealousy and comparison.  Pride and ego.  It’s in the Bible.  A lot. Continue reading

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Dear Comparison,

I’ve decided it’s time.  I’m breaking up with you.

No, it’s not me, it’s you.

And no, we can’t still be friends.

You seduced me by whispering sweet nothings in my ear about “better than”.  You flattered me with “friends”, “followers” or awards, “likes”, “favorites”…

But you’re a two-faced lover and now I see the real you.  Those sweet whispers easily morph into ugly taunts of “not as _____ as”.  Subtle accusations that lead to envy and discouragement and an unhealthy soul. Continue reading

What I Learned About Being “Fearless” in 2013

The week between Christmas and New Year has always been a good time for reflection. So I’ve been thinking about my “One Word” for 2013 – Fearless.

Not that I saw myself as fearless, but I believed God wanted to grow me in that direction.  It didn’t feel like it was “mine”.  It was an aspirational word.  Kind of like “thin” will be an aspirational word my whole life.

There was the acknowledgement that “Fear not.” is the most common command in the Bible and that other command, “Follow me.” which usually involves risk and the F word, at least in my life.

Living with this “One Word” in 2013 helped me to pay attention.  Henry James, a novelist, writes “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.” This was my goal.

Not that it’s been a smooth ride.  I had a panic attack for the first time in my life.  And that’s not “me”.  At least that’s how my pride responds.

But I also took risks, and went public with a big goal that I felt was beyond my ability.

I think the biggest “fearless” lesson I learned came while I was running. And running.  And, you know… trying not to die. Continue reading

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