Living Without Training Wheels

“Mom! Mom! Mom!” I see my five-year-old happily running towards me. “I rode Gabriel’s bike! WITHOUT training wheels!!!”

“Good job! That’s awesome!”

“Can I call dad and ask him to take off my training wheels? Please mom! Please!!!”

Wow! My little girl is ready to ride her bike without training wheels. Not that I didn’t see this day coming, but I didn’t realize she would be the one telling me she was ready before I was ready for her to do it.

Just a few weeks ago, she brought me the only pair of tennis shoes she owns that contain laces. “Mom, I’m ready to learn how to tie shoes. Please teach me.”

WHAT! No! You don’t even wear those shoes. Put them back. Put on your flip-flops.

But why would I hold my daughter back from growing when she is so clearly interested and ready?

The answer- because I don’t want to do it right now. Sometimes it’s easier just to keep things the way they are. Let her use her bike with training wheels. Then I know she’s not going to fall. Make her keep wearing shoes without laces, then I don’t have to take the time to teach her a task that doesn’t exactly come naturally. Then getting ready to leave will only take 1 minute instead of 5 while she tries to tie her shoes.

But by doing this, what am I accomplishing? Nothing. I get to be lazy for a few more days. Luckily for me, (or not so luckily…) she’s persistent. She wants to learn to tie her shoes, she’s going to remind me to practice with her every day. She wants to ride her bike without training wheels, she will just ride her brother’s bike.

My daughter is fearless, determined, persistent… and she’s five. She’s never expressed concerned about what if I fail, or what if I can’t? She keeps trying. She keeps practicing. And when she falls, she gets up and does it again.

No matter how much I want to, how hard I try- life will happen. She will grow. She will strive to move forward. Who am I to force her to keep those training wheels on?

1531852479668

How many times in my life have I let the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of being unable affect me? Too many?  I like comfortable. I like knowing what’s going on. I like control. But my own desires for comfort and control can actually prevent me (and my children) from growing.

Let’s just take praying out loud for example. I grew up in a religion that was a lot of memorized prayers. When we prayed over the meal, everyone said the exact same prayer. When it was time for bed, we had a selection of about 4 prayers to choose from. Sadly, I never learned anything past saying these memorized prayers. They were comfortable. They were easy. They were a check off the list, now-go-about-your-day prayer.

When my husband suggested praying together, it was scary. Seriously, I didn’t know what to do. I pretty much just let him pray and said “Amen.”

The enemy tried to get in my head. He tried to convince me it was unnecessary to grow. My prayer life was just fine the way it was. He tried to cause me to stumble.

Learning to open up and pray out loud was so uncomfortable… no one would ever notice if I didn’t do it… it’s personal… All the reasons not to do, but I could still feel God pulling me in this direction.

Praise God that He put opportunities in front of me to grow in prayer! He surrounded me with people who were willing to teach me and guide me. He provided the resources to help me learn and become comfortable. Once I was willing to pray out-loud, my relationship with God truly grew in a whole new and beautiful direction.

My flesh wanted to rely on my training wheel, but when those training wheels came off I was free.

If I had chosen to stay in my comfort zone, I would not be willing to pray out loud at all. I would not walk up to a hurting person and offer to pray for them. I would not be willing to pray over my husband and my children. I would have not grown towards God. I would have been stuck.

We all have stumbling blocks. The enemy- he’s sneaky.  Maybe your stumbling block- like mine- is prayer. Maybe it’s attending church regularly, or maybe it’s participating and not just going through the motions. Maybe it’s fellowship. Whatever your stumbling block-lean into God, and let go of your training wheels.

There’s going to be stumbling blocks. The enemy does not want us growing towards God. But God is consistent, persistent, and faithful. When we have our eyes on Him, we will grow towards Him. We will get past these stumbling blocks. We will not rely on our training wheels.

When we take off the training wheels, we learn to let the Holy Spirit take the handle bars. We learn to trust and obey God. Instead of relying on what we know, we are willing to step out in faith, help another, pray for the stranger, witness to the man on the street, show love to others.

Life is going to happen. Don’t be the reason someone else stumbles. Take off your training wheels and allow your daughter to do the same!

 

 

Everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their sensibilities to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:14

Time for Fireflies

It was the first week of summer. The boys were attending a day camp at church.  I thought it was a good idea, since being down 2 kids, to schedule a bunch of errands and doctor’s appointments for the week. So, my girls and I had a busy week of running which included taking the boys to camp, doing our errands, and picking them up.  (Honestly this wasn’t the best idea…)

Anyways- One evening that week, my husband asked if the kids and I would like to go pick up our camper out in the country. So, I agreed. On the drive out there, several of our kids feel asleep. But once we stopped, they were all wide-awake.

Out of the van all the kids went. Then the first kid sees it- a firefly! The second kid sees it- a lightning bug. (We live in the mid-west… firefly and lightning bug are used interchangeably.) All five kids spent almost an hour chasing and catching lightning bugs/fireflies.

It was fun to watch while I pretended like I was helping my husband.

When we got home the kids went straight to bed.

The next morning, we got going perfectly fine. Though we got home late the night before, we were off without any issues. On the drive to camp, my boys said, “Mom you forgot to ask us what our best part of the day was yesterday.” (When I tuck them in at night I ask them if they had a good day and what their best part was.)

“Ok honey, what was your best part?” I asked assuming it would be something from camp- the rock wall, zipline, games, something…

“The fireflies!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, catching the fireflies,” my other son agreed.

fireflies blog

All these activities… With all the fun things they did that day, their favorite thing was the unplanned time catching fireflies. That really put things in perspective for me.

Don’t get me wrong, they had a blast at camp! They enjoy the planned activities, but this moment was quite humbling. All these things I feel like I have to do for my kids but is it really necessary?

We can plan our kids entire summer. We can have activities planned for every day of the week and weekends. But it really is the simple things that matter. Let the kids just be kids.

Seriously, I struggle with this. Growing up my life was constantly on the go. This sport, that sport, this activity, that activity, go to this friend’s house, now over here… If I was eligible for an activity, I participated. Honestly, it was go-go-go-go. And once we got home, it was go-eat, go- do homework, go- watch TV, go, go, go… I didn’t stop until my head hit the pillow.

So, the very first time I had the opportunity to sign my child up for an “age” appropriate activity, I was all over it. My husband, on the other hand, was like why? Does he want to do it? Is he really going to benefit from it? Why don’t we wait until he expresses interest in the activity?

I reluctantly agreed. But the urge to busy my schedule with activities for the kids did not just go away. And as we started homeschooling, I felt this extreme pressure do everything… I mean I have to socialize my kids… right?!? I even tried many of the non-age appropriate activities.

I quickly realize I wasn’t doing this for my kids. I was doing it for me. I was keeping myself busy and using them as the excuse.

Letting go of the “on-the-go” was a huge step in my faith walk. Learning to manage the schedule and keep the peaceful life-style is not easy. I honestly have to do a lot more thinking, evaluating, and communicating than I ever thought would be needed. But it’s worth it.

Here’s what I have learned: Communication is a 2-way street. If I am constantly talking or busying my schedule, it is much more difficult to hear from God. The first time I recognized God speaking to my heart I heard, “Be still.” This is a message I heard continually for almost 2 years straight.

God, I’m not sure what to do? Be still. God, I am mad right now. Be still. God, I feel like I need to act right now.  Be still.

As I have allowed myself to be stilled, I have found so many benefits. I’ve been gently shown that there are some things that are more important than a full schedule- Time. Family time. Quality time. Time to relax. Time to enjoy nature. Time to draw and color. Time to be yourself. Most importantly, Time with God. Uninterrupted time that I spend with God, with no agenda other than to be in His presence. Sometimes the kids do not need a schedule, they need time.

In letting go of a full schedule, I was able to open my heart to quiet. Something I was very uncomfortable and unfamiliar with. But it’s in these quiet moments- it’s in these unrushed times I seem to experience the fullness of God’s beauty and creation. It’s in these times that I can say I experience His peace.

Have you ever been in prayer over something and felt like God wasn’t listening? Have you ever just needed His reassurance in that moment and questioned if He was really there? I have been there too. Remember that often times we go before God and do all the talking, but we have not been still and quiet at all, let alone long enough to be able to hear a response or feel His presence. Like I said before, communication goes both ways. If you are not hearing from God, maybe it’s because your talking to much. Try to be still and look for God everywhere you are, you will likely begin to notice Him all around in your life.

Give yourself the time to experience the fullness of life. Give yourself unplanned, unrushed moments. Quiet down. Listen to God. Experience His creation. Rest in His presence. Recognize His blessings upon you.

Read. Play. Relax. Enjoy our family. Say no to the busy and yes to meaningful.

Make plans, enjoy your life. But don’t let your plans run you.

GO ENJOY THE FIREFLIES!

 

 

 

Defending the Lies

“MOOOOMMMMMM!!!!”

I looked up and saw my daughter running towards me, “The boys said I did ______, but I didn’t mom.” I see the tears forming in her eyes.

“Honey if you didn’t do it, why are you worried about it?” I asked.

“I just didn’t do it mom, and I don’t want them saying I did.”

How do you explain to a 5-year-old that actions speak louder than words? How do you tell her that if she didn’t do it, don’t worry about it?

She came running to me to defend herself, but it wasn’t needed. She wasn’t going to be in trouble for the act they said she did in the first place. To top it off, she didn’t even do it (I am still not sure what “it” was in the first place). It’s no big deal, wipe it off, and carry on.

1530552780660

But is it really no big deal? I’ve been there… I am there… people saying very untrue things about me, trying to destroy my character and image with their slander. I desperately want to defend myself, but I know there’s no point. A liar is just going to keep lying… keep twisting facts to make their point known. Unfortunately, some people would rather believe their lies than the truth.

But what can I do? I could spit out the facts, tell my side of the story. I could defend myself and drag those people who want to spread lies about me down. But honestly, what good comes from that? None- Now I have brought myself into drama.

Repaying evil with evil benefits no one. (Not that sharing facts is evil, but motive matters. Sharing facts to make someone look bad is wrong. Gossip is gossip whether the facts originated in truth or not.)  This only results in everyone being hurt, frustrated, mad, and other negative feelings. No situation like this can be handled by man’s (or woman’s) scheming.

There’s only one opinion I need to worry about- that’s God’s opinion. He’s been there through the whole thing. He knows the truth, and He has brought me through the situation into His love and peace. As much as I want to defend myself, I know that God will defend me.

I know there is no reason to indulge in the drama… but that doesn’t mean my sin nature doesn’t get a hold of me and try to convince me to participate by defending my honor.

At times like this I have to remember Proverbs 6: 15-19, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” These people will be brought to justice. God hates what they are doing. It is not my job to bring their justice. It is my job to trust in God’s perfect timing.

So, what can you do when you are in this situation? The only answer is give it up to God. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for those who spread lies and partial truths. Pray for those who are influenced by their misconceptions. But most importantly, pray that God guards your heart so that you are not swayed giving the enemy a foothold of your heart.

Allowing just a little sin, even when worldly justified, is not worth it. Trust that God has it under control. Pray for those people. Pray for them because no matter what you do, at the end of the day, God reserves the right to change another person. We do not have that ability. Pray for them because they need Jesus. They need a relationship with Christ.

As much as these lies hurt me, it also saddens me. I do not want anyone spending eternity separated from God. I pray that the Lord continues to pursue and reveal Himself to these people. That they will let go of their selfish ways and their pride and allow Christ to be the King of their hearts.  I pray that they can turn from their ways and embrace God’s ways.

Anyone who is in a similar situation- I know. I know how hurtful it is to know that people you care about believe lies spread by another person. I know how hard it is to not defend yourself. But remember, you are better than lies. You are better than drama. You are a daughter of the heavenly King. He will defend you. He will bring you through the storm. It may not turn out the way you want it to, but His plans are far better than any plan you can dream of yourself.

Trust- God’s got this under control.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

1 Thessalonians 5:15

 

 

Temporary Bubbles

Bubbles! This morning I sat outside watching all five of my children happily play with bubbles. Smiles. Laughter. Blowing bubbles at each other. Running around in circles. Comparing the sizes of bubbles.  Popping. Blowing. Repeat.

So much fun! For about 15 minutes… Then someone bumped into someone else. Bubbles spilled. Others ran out. Soon we were left with empty containers. The fun was over… well for the four oldest. (The baby sat and played with empty containers pretending to blow bubbles having just as much fun as before.)

As fun as the bubbles are, they are only temporary. Eventually we will run out of bubbles. Someone will spill their bubbles. It will happen. The other kids will offer to share, but eventually the bubble solution will be gone and an empty container will be in the trash can.

This is so much like life’s worldly promises. Money, status, power, promotions, good grades, popularity, possessions… All of it will run out. We entered the world naked and naked we will leave it.

But the world offers us so many temporary solutions. It’s hard to overlook them. Temporary fun. Temporary satisfaction. Temporary distractions. But it will run out. It will leave us empty. Just like those bubbles. Eventually the bottle will be empty, and the fun will be over.

1529957845003

Fact- I am emotional. I know I am sensitive emotionally, so I try not to react with emotions. (By the grace of God, progress has been made here… but I still struggle.) This means that I tend to stuff my emotions down, reflect, and decided whether or not to react. Usually, I choose not to react, because I am also a peace maker. I do not like conflict. I avoid it at all cost… sometimes that means at the cost of my own emotional well-being.

Another fact- I am pregnant. Being pregnant means my emotions are heightened, and I am overly  sensitive. I easily feel offended, hurt, saddened, misunderstood.

So lately I have found that in order to deal with these emotions I have turned to a worldly satisfaction of food… Yep… I feel annoyed= I need chocolate. I feel frustrated= I need something crunchy. I feel bored= I need something salty. I feel sad= I want ice cream.

These foods do offer a temporary solution. Well… until the candy bar runs out or until the bottom of the chip bag appears. Almost immediately after eating whatever I choose to eat, I feel poorly and wish I had chosen a healthier food.

The really sad thing is this can be justified by the world, because we live in the world. But the truth is, there is only one thing that can satisfy. When I look to the world to satisfy me, I lose sight of that one thing. That one thing is Jesus! He alone is the living water. He alone is the bread of life. He is the one and only thing that can satisfy.

Though my eyes wonder, and I look elsewhere; He is always there.

You would think by now I would have this right. You would think by now I would know that this candy bar will not actually make me feel better. That this bag of chips will not actually fill me up.

One of the biggest misconceptions I think new Christians have is that it’s all downhill once you accept Christ. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s more like a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs and loops and turns. We have an enemy, and he knows how to distract us. He knows how to get us to temporarily take our eyes off God. He knows how to temporarily get us to fall back into our old ways.

But GOOD NEWS! We also have the Holy Spirit on our team. He never leaves us and never forsakes us. He is there convicting us and helping us overcome these stumbling blocks the enemy puts in our path.

The thought that I should have this down now is a thought from the enemy, telling me I am not good enough… telling me that I can do it on my own. Trying to put the focus back on me… and my pride lets him do it too much! I need the Holy Spirit!

Praise God I have somewhere to turn! All I have to do is lift up a prayer. He is there. He listens. He understands.  If only I could ditch this sin nature.

LISTEN CLOSELY! Are you listening? Good. We all have things that we enjoy. ENJOY THEM, BUT do not let them be the source of your comfort or satisfaction. Eventually they will run out, and you will be left empty. The only True Comfort and Satisfaction will be found NOW and FOREVER in JESUS CHRIST!

 

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.


Ecclesiastes 1:14

 

Just Like Dad

Every morning I wake my kids up, we eat breakfast, and then I remind them of their morning tasks. “Get dressed, brush your teeth, brush your hair, read your Bibles…”

Wednesday morning as I was reading one of my younger kids her Bible, my boys came running to me. “Mom look, I washed my face just like dad.” I gave a silent thumb up, as I was still reading, but they continued.

“Yep. We ate breakfast, washed our face, brushed our teeth, and read our Bibles- just like dad!” the next boy exclaimed.

It seemed fitting (in light of Father’s Day) to make note of how much my boys look up to their dad. Yes, they are shorter than him (by a couple feet), but in every sense of the saying- they look up to him. They are watching even when we do not realize it.

Honestly, I have been married to the man for almost nine years, and I didn’t know his routine for getting ready in the mornings. But my boys- they did. And they want to be just like him.

1529168910204

They see everything. And as mom, I get to watch them imitated their wonderful dad. When they walk into a building my children happily hold the door open for everyone. When they meet someone new at church, they look the person in the eye and give a firm handshake before engaging in conversation. When they walk next to their dad they hold their heads high and walk in confidence.

There’s nowhere the boys would rather be than hanging out with dad. If dad ask for their help in the garage, those boys are down there in a jiffy.

What I love most about watching my kids with their dad is the learning that is going on. When they are wrestling, they are learning. They are learning to never give up and keep trying, even though they know they will never actually beat their dad. They are learning to play and poke fun, but to also be aware of each other. If someone gets “hurt,” they are learning to make sure that person is ok and how to bounce back quickly. My kids will never miss out of an opportunity to have a wrestling match with dad because they love it.

When they are working in the shop, they are mostly learning how to clean up saw dust, but there’s so much more. They are learning how to solve problem, how to work through mistakes, how to build, how to fix, how to try to do something new. One of their dad’s favorite saying is, “There are two ways to do things- the right way and again.” Though they are usually just cleaning the shop and hanging out, they are observing their dad’s amazing work ethic and attitude towards household and/or car projects.

No matter what role dad is taking on at the time, he does it with love and care. And the kids see that. Even when they are being disciplined. They know that dad loves them and wants them to be the best they can. They know that dad is consistent and when they mess up, they expect dad’s correction. They know that dad has high expectations for them, and they want to meet those expectations. Because they love their dad.

If there is anyone I would want my boys to grow up to be like, it is their dad. He strives to live a life for God. However, he knows he’s needs the Holy Spirit to do that. He’s not afraid to say that he’s messed up before and is willing to share the lesson he was taught through that. Their dad has never met a stranger. He would talk about Jesus to a complete stranger for hours if the other person were to stay engaged. Their dad has a heart to share the Gospel.  My kids see that!

When my kids walk into the room and see their dad studying his Bible- my kids see that.

When my kids hear their dad singing out Christian Rock music- they hear that and do the same.

When dad messes up and says he’s sorry- my kids see that.

When dad stops what he is doing to say good night and pray- my kids see that.

Faith is not something that we say we have; it is something we live. It’s not just going to church on Sunday; it’s daily walking with Christ. It’s not living by a set of rules; it’s living for Christ. It’s not telling people what they should do; it’s living the way we should to honor God. It’s modeling Christ so all can see the hope we have.

Kids learn what they are taught. Some of it is literal teaching. Some of it is practice and repetition. But all of it is modeled. I am so grateful that my kids have their dad as an awesome teacher and role model. He never strays from the end goal when it comes to parenting- productive Christian adults. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).”

My husband is an amazing example of a man trying to walk in faith. Is he perfect- no way! No one is. He works hard to provide for his family, not just financially, but emotionally, spiritually, and physically as well. I cannot imagine the temptations he comes into everyday as he endures work, ungodly people, temptations to slander, temptations to lust, temptations to gossip, temptations to lie and build himself up, and probably a thousand more temptations I’ll never have to witness. But I can tell you he seeks God. He seeks accountability. He admits when he struggles. He seeks others to pray for him.

It is my prayer that the Lord continues to guide and strengthen my husband. That God will keep him on the straight and narrow path allowing him to stand firm when the enemy comes at him. I pray that my children see their dad as he strives to do God’s will and that they are inspired to do the same. I pray for a family on fire for Christ, serving God together, loving God above all things, and seeking His will in every situation.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

 3 John 1:4

Good Guys VS Bad Guys

My kids really like the show “Wild Kratts” right now. As a parent, I like it too. They get to learn about wild life in an entertaining way. Since my kids are into the super hero thing, the good guys verse bad guys approach while applying science couldn’t be more perfect for them.  Yesterday my son says to me, “Mom I like the bad guys in Wild Kratts, but I don’t like the bad guys in real life.”

good bad

Yep, kiddo! I can relate to that. BUT… who are the bad guys in real life? I mean seriously. When we are watching a movie or television show it is obvious who the good guys and bad guys are. We can see the scheming, plotting, lying, and misbehavior. But in real life… its not so easy to see. We are easily deceived. Sometimes we trust people who are untrustworthy. Sometimes we too get caught up in “bad-guy” activity. Sometimes covering up something small seems in the best interest at the time… but then that snowballs…

All we have to do is turn on the news to see this. It’s amazing how two different television stations can air the “same” news story yet leave you thinking two different things. Each station has their own agenda with their own backing. They tell the story through those lenses.

For example, the news back in early 2000s had us all thinking Iraqis and Afghanis were all terrible people and terrorist who wanted to destroy America. We feared them due to 9/11 and the media hype around the situation. But my husband, who served for the Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan, would tell you most people who lived there just wanted to be left alone. 98% of the population were good people. Those stories were never told, because in order to support the War on Terror, we needed to be scared.

People do the same thing. We all have our own lives. We all have our own agenda… and we all want to be liked. So, sometimes we fall victim to the schemes of the enemy and tell a story from our perspective that stretches a detail here or there, and now we have an innocent person believing a story that has only a little truth in it.

It’s not so easy to see the good verse bad when we are in the midst of it. But here’s the truth: the enemy is not a person. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).” Satan is the enemy and we fall victim to his traps very easily.

This is why we must guard our hearts. We must not fall victim to the traps of gossip, the traps of twisting truths and lying, the traps of building ourselves up while tearing others down.  So many times, when we think good and evil we think war, physical fighting, and murder. But I see the struggle with good and evil as truth verse lies. Wars do not start for no reason. Hate is not built over nothing. Something… or someone starts all that…

The truth is there is one good guy and one bad guy in this world. Obviously, Jesus is the good guy. Everything He does it to bring God glory. Not so obviously, Satan is the bad guy. He puts up little road blocks and detours so that we are led astray. He wants to separate us from God. He wants us to live in the world for the world.  We are either influenced by good or evil, and our actions are an overflow of our hearts. Unfortunately for most of us, we are influenced by both- the good guy and the bad guy. Only we cannot see all the behind the scenes in real life. That is why putting on the Full Armor of God is so important. Arm yourselves with the word of God. Be prepared to stand against the schemes of the enemy- they are coming. You have to be prepared.

Now Jesus and Satan are not equals. Satan was an angel, a created being. Jesus is God. Satan’s equal would be Michael the archangel. One offers us eternity with God in Heaven, the other offers us instant gratification with a hole in our hearts. We all have a longing in our hearts. We are all searching for that something. That something is a peace only God can fulfill. Please remember- this world is not our home. Don’t get comfortable living your life the way you think you should live it. Live your life the way you know God wants you to live it!

I think much like my son, the reason I like the good guys verses the bad guys in the movies is because we know the good guys always win. Well, good news- the good guy has already won! Jesus has already defeated the devil! He crushed his head when He rose from the dead. AND he’s coming back! We know the end- Jesus wins!

 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.…”

1 John 5:3-5

The Comparison Trap

Last week I was able to take my kids on an outing that had a huge rock climbing wall! My oldest three happily stood in a long line to complete this task. As they reached the front of the line the workers helped each kid into a harness. Then they went onto the wall. They were happily climbing when my oldest stopped. “Mom, I’m scared.”

“Keep going. Your brother is almost at the top,” I replied.

He looked up. Considered going higher but pushed himself backwards repelling off the wall. Seconds later, his bother rings the bell showing he had reached the top.

As the oldest got down I could see he was disappointed. I told him good job and gave him a high five.

When his brother came down, he was gleaming with a huge smile. I gave him a high five and told him I was proud of him.

My oldest started tearing up. “Mom, you are proud of him and not of me…”

WHAT!!! How did you hear that? I never said that… I never implied that… I never even thought that…“No way kiddo. I am proud of you, but your brother just reached the top! That’s an accomplishment! We need to celebrate it.”

I didn’t mean to create a competition between my boys. I just thought a little encouragement and motivation may help him face his fears. Instead, my son saw that since his brother did better than he did, his accomplishment was nothing.

Man, I do not want my kids to think that! It took me years to realize how badly I struggle with the comparison trap. Hear me closely everyone, Someone else’s accomplishment does not take away from yours!!!

Some competition is good. It is good to be pushed to be your best and to do your best. It is good to learn to win and learn to lose. But these competitions should never affect our self-worth, the value we see in ourselves.

compasion trap

Growing up I struggled with constantly comparing myself to others. As I got older, this had an impact on me. First, emotionally- I cared way too much how people viewed me and sought approval in odd places. It also affected me socially. I was constantly comparing myself to others. So, if I thought another girl was pretty, all the sudden I didn’t feel pretty. Then I was intimidated by her. The next thing I knew I had created a wall in my head that she and I could not be friends. Because of my own thoughts… nothing else.

If someone was better at something than me, I took it personally. If I could not easily get better, I would make an excuse or just quit all together. This is not something I grew out of. In fact, I did not realize I had this problem until I was well into my adult years.

I remember walking into a new church several years ago. There was this nice lady who welcomed my family and me. She helped us check the kids in and walked us to their rooms. She led us back to the main area, and then my husband and I went to find seats. After finding our seats and meeting up with the couple who invited us, I learned who the lady was and what other people thought of her. People thought VERY highly of her, and they all really liked her. Suddenly, I was like, “Wait- why don’t people think this of me?” “I’m better than her at x,y, and z.” I was completely intimidated by her, so I began rationalizing why I was better than her. Instead of recognizing it, I put up this wall up because of what others thought… And their thoughts were all positive. My thoughts were distorted.

The only person this wall hurt was me. I told my husband about it years later. He honestly had no clue these thoughts floated through my head. His response was, “Why?”  Why? That is a good question. And a question I now have the answer to.

The enemy completely had a foothold in my heart. He had apparently had that foothold for quite some time too. I can look back at this situation and see the errors in my ways. “But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble (Proverbs 4:19).”

Comparison has cost me relationships. It has cost me time. It has cost me peace. I praise God that he revealed this error in my ways. The only person I need to be comparing myself to is the person I am today to the person God designed me to be.

Part of my struggle with comparison is due to my desire to please man rather than pleasing God. Since I weighed other’s opinions highly, I internalized their positive opinions of others to be negative towards me- which couldn’t be further from the truth. However, as I have learned to see myself the way God sees me, I have been able to stop comparing myself to others and start celebrating them. I have stopped searching for man’s approval and sought to be obedient to God and His plan for my life. I have seen good fruit, a healthy heart, and a peaceful life.

Celebrating someone else’s accomplishment, talents, or value is something we should do. We should build each other up in brotherly (or sisterly) love. Just because someone else painted an amazing picture, does not mean your picture is not good. Just because someone else looks beautiful, does not mean you are not beautiful. Just because someone else is blessed, does not mean you are not blessed.

If you struggle with the comparison trap affecting your life, please know I have been there.  It’s hard to be genuinely happy for someone when you are not fully happy yourself. Please look in the mirror and see what God sees- He sees you- His perfectly and wonderfully made daughter. Be in prayer and ask God for the help you need. What you see as a flaw, God tends to use for His glory!

 

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10