Parents: A Glimpse of God

My kids were playing outside as a storm rolled in. I saw a flash and heard a boom. So, I called them inside. My youngest daughter was apparently really scared when I called them in. I gave her a hug, told her she was safe, and sent her to play with her siblings.

About 15 minutes later, she came to me and said, “I safe cause I got God and dad.”

It was adorable. She is right. She is safe because she has God and her dad.

I love that she put God and dad in the same category. Yes, dad is human. But sometimes I think parents forget that children are shaping their view of God based on your words, actions, and character. You are the most important person in their world. You are teaching them about God. Though they can’t see God, they see you. Thus, they are connecting your qualities to God’s qualities.

My daughter sees her dad as a protector and defender. Dad is strong and fierce. No one and no thing will hurt his baby girl, if he can prevent it.

God is also our protector and defender. “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you, and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).”

I’m not sure that she sees that parallel at the age of 3, but I hope one day she will. 

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Parents, we are giving our children a glimpse of God through the way we parent them.

As Christians, we should want our children to know the all-knowing, ever-present, consistent, loving, just God we serve. Our young children will not be able to wrap their developing minds around the character and nature of God, but the way we treat them and others around us shows them a glimpse of God. 

If your discipline is inconsistent and based on feelings, they will not understand God’s discipline.

If you say one thing and mean something different, they will not value God’s word. They will not understand the concept of a never-changing God.

If you are constantly manipulating situations to get your child to do what you want them to do, they too will see God as a manipulator in the sky who gave free will as a joke. God can just make you do whatever he wants by changing your circumstances.

If you live one way in public and another way at home, they will think all Christians do the same. Therefore, they just need to put on a good front, wear a good mask. Sin all they want behind closed doors.

But all of these are the furthest thing from the truth. Our God is a good, just, and consistent God who loves us so much that he gave us the choice to love him back. He knows we cannot do it on our own. He’s not asking us to. He does not want you to pretend to be holy in public. He wants you to admit you are weak, so that you can be given a strength only he can provide.  

Our parents are our first teachers in every aspect of the world. They teach us how to love. They teach us how to interact with others. 

The way we respond to situations becomes the way they respond. 

The way we talk to them becomes the way they talk to themselves.

And until they are really old enough to own their faith, the way we live our faith is the way they too will live their faith. 

It’s a big responsibility. But I truly want everything I say and do to point to our Heavenly Father. 

I know some people are reading this, and it’s striking a nerve. Maybe you are the parent of a prodigal and you are thinking, “I tried.” Please hear me, that’s ok. A relationship with God has to be personal choice. You can plant seeds all day long, but you cannot force faith. Only God can make that seed grow. Some people just take longer to reach that point. Some people have to hit rock bottom before they recognize their need for a Savior. Don’t stop praying for your child. 

 Maybe you didn’t have parents who pointed you to a loving God. Maybe your parents were like the ones I previously described. Or maybe you know someone who did not grow up knowing the true love of a Father. That’s ok. Talk to God about it. Trust me when I say, He knows. He was there. And He will use that pain to help you grow, witness, and further the Kingdom, if you let Him. 

The sad truth is, we are all sinful. We all fall short. And even the best parents, will still miss the mark. This is why it is so important for the body to represent Christ. 

Everyone needs Jesus, but not everyone knows that. We must share this good news. We must witness to the lost and hurting. And sometimes those people are in our congregation, friend groups, family… Don’t assume everyone who claims to be Christian has a true understanding of God. 

We must come alongside of the prodigal, hurt child, and confused to point them to the loving Father who desires a relationship with them. Share the good news of Jesus. Share the character and nature of God. Share how God is working in your life. It matters!  Keep planting seeds!

Trusting

My husband picked up a pretty cool hobby while I was pregnant with one of our more recent babies. Tree climbing… but not like when we were kids jumping from branch to branch… more like climbing a rope to the top of a tree. As he was doing all the research and beginning to do it, I was a little envious. My growing belly would not allow me to partake in this new found hobby.

This may surprise you- we’ve been married almost 10 years. We have six kids. This means I have pretty much been pregnant half our marriage. I just accepted that a lot of these activities I will not be able to do for a while. So, I don’t even have a list of things I want to do when I no longer have a baby growing in my belly.

Well, recently my husband pulled out the climbing gear to do a project, realized I hadn’t climbed a tree yet, and said, “Wanna climb a tree?”

Heck yeah, I did! I put on the harness and listened as he explained what each little gadget was and how to use it. Then it was time to go up the tree. As I was climbing, I actually considered not going all the way to the top branch.

My husband told me, “Just trust the equipment.”

If I am being honest, I have no problem with heights. (I can be a little bit of an adrenalin junkie. I’ve gone sky-diving three times.)

I also had no problem trusting the equipment. I had just seen it support him all the way up and down the tree.

I didn’t trust myself to properly use the equipment.

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I am definitely in that spot in my walk with Christ. I trust Him fully (well that’s what I say anyways…) I know he can do all things. I’ve witnessed Him change me, give me peace, give me a new purpose, work in the lives of those around me.

But in some areas of my life, I trust myself first, and turn to God as a back-up plan…

I’m a parent. I love my kids with all my heart. I truly want what’s best for them… but sometimes I wish it were a little easier.

I’m quick to say I trust God with my kids. I know God has a plan for my kids. I’m excited to have a front row seat and witness that. However, that also means I have to do the not-so-fun parts of parenting- training, guiding, disciplining, instilling positive characteristic.

Let me just say, this is not something that comes naturally to me. I am a peacekeeper by nature. I want to just overlook issues and help everyone get along. That does not work with rearing children.

They have to be taught right from wrong. When they make a poor decision, we have to correct it and teach them why it is wrong.

A few days ago, my boys got caught watching something they were not given permission to watch on YouTube. So, I grounded them from the tablets. (They were already grounded from the television.) Seemed like a fair punishment (and even my boys agreed…)

But that didn’t stop them from telling me how much they didn’t like me, how unfair it was, and so on.

What did I do? I would love to tell you I stopped, prayed, and asked God for direction.

But I didn’t. I tried to talk to my boys.

Yep, that was a mistake. I ended up getting my feelings hurt by their words that were really just a reaction to a feeling.

I called my husband. Let me just tell you, God blessed me with an amazing husband.

When he got home from work, he had a conversation with my boys. I listened from the other room, and honestly, I was in awe over the direction of the conversation.

He started off asking them who taught them to tie their shoes. (mom) Who taught them to ride their bikes? (dad and mom) Who taught them to lie?

Wait no one…

Who taught you to be disrespectful?

No one…

“No one had to teach you that, son. It’s part of the fall of man.” He then went on to get out a Bible, read the fall from Genesis, and explain to the boys that sin is part of our nature. And that is was our job, as parents, to teach you right from wrong, to help you overcome the temptation to sin. But we all sin. We all fall short. We are going to mess up. But when we mess up, we have to make it right. (Seriously it was good. So good, there may be an early chapter book in the making.)

Parenting win, because of my husband.

Me? I went to bed defeated. Somedays I feel like I’m a rock-star of a mom! Somedays I wonder how I will survive another 18 years…

As I went to bed, I had an honest talk with God. I let him know I was defeated. I let him know I didn’t know what to do. And I got this conviction- Do you trust me with your kids?

Of course, God.

No, Renee. Do you trust me with your kids? You have to lean into me. Every second of everyday. Stop trying to do it on your own.

You see… I do trust God… but only in some areas… in most areas, I trust myself. I look to my own knowledge, my own understanding, my own abilities. It’s like I get in the car with God, but I want to be holding the steering wheel. I have to take my hands off that wheel and trust.

Do you think Moses had any idea what God could do when he came to the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army not far behind? If he had tried to do things his way, they would have all died. If he had asked God to only do things the way he wanted them, they may have survived (and returned to slavery I’m sure.) They definitely would have missed walking through the Red Sea on dry ground.

When Jesus’ disciples needed to feed the crowd of thousands, how do you think they would have solved that problem. Me, I would have sent them away. Or I would have prayed that someone would have enough money to support a large, large pizza delivery. But Jesus, multiplied what they did have.

We have to have faith to fully trust God, or we will miss out on what He is doing around us! Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways submit to Him!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Mary, Did You Know?

 

Maybe it’s because I have a newborn so close to Christmas, but for the last couple of days “Mary, Did You Know” has really been resonating with me.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered
Will soon deliver you

She had to have known some of this. I mean an angel did appear to her and tell her what was about to happen. An angel did appear to her husband and stop him from divorcing her. The angel appeared to him again and directed them to Egypt- saving the baby’s life.

Surely, she knew that this baby was special. Elizabeth confirmed it during her visit when John the Baptist leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth prophesized over Mary and her child! Surely, she had an idea that BIG things were going to happen with him. But what was about to happen, I’m sure her human heart could not foresee.

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Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?

But did she know- no way. Even if she were told exactly what would have happened- she was human. Life would get in the way. I’m sure there were days when Baby Jesus was just a baby- crying, pooping, and wanting to be held.  Days she was tired, worn-out, and just going through the motions.

Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God

I’m sure that Mary’s role as mom was a blessing, but I’m also sure there were days that weren’t glamourous. I’m sure that though she knew what the angel had told her, those thoughts would get pushed to the back of her mind and the day ahead was all that was on her mind.

As He grew into a boy, was it obvious He was the Son of God? Did he get sick? Did he enjoying working with dad in the shop? Did he need reminders to do his chores? Only Mary knows. (Well, probably Joseph, too.)

Mary, did you know?

Did she know what He would do? Probably not. But did she know that there was amazing potential? I’m positive that’s a yes! The first public miracle Jesus performed was at her request. She had faith in her Son though he responded his time had not yet come.

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

As these song lyrics ring through my head, I just look at my baby boy in amazement. I know God has big things in store for him. Will he be a carpenter, office worker, artist, missionary, evangelist, a pastor? I have no idea. Will it be easy, no- but it will be worth it!  Will he need motherly direction- you better believe it.  Am I equipped to give it? No, but with the Lord’s help and guidance I pray he gets it from me.

Did Mary, too, wonder if she was equipped to be the Mother of our Lord? Did she wonder if Jesus would follow in Joseph’s footsteps and become a carpenter? Could she have imagined him becoming a teacher and mentor to so many people?  Could she have ever known the miracles that would happen because of Him? Did she wonder just how exactly would He save His people? When? Where? So many questions, so few answers. But one big thing- Faith! Faith in God. Faith in His word. Faith in His promises.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

If young Mary had any idea the difficulties that lie ahead- how rejected Jesus would be, the blaspheming, the Cross…  could she have even bared it?

Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding
Is the Great I Am

I hope she was just full of Hope. Those days that motherhood and wifely duties got the best of her, I hope that she remembered that God had a plan and had invited her to have a front row seat to it. I hope she remember what she prophesized about her Son when she visited Elizabeth. I hope that she always shined a light of faith everywhere she went.

Did Mary know? I doubt it, but she did have faith! She walked by faith not by sight. God, however- God knew, and He chose her. He led the way, prepared the path. She experienced life as a mother, just like you and me. She had highs and lows. Days of joys and days of sorrow. She was able to witness her Son grow into a ministry that she may or may not have chosen for him. She bore witness to miracles. She had her heart pierced just like the prophet had said.

Mary had a front row seat to God’s mighty plan to save His people from themselves. Only one person was there from the beginning to the end of Jesus’ earthly life- that was Mary. I think it’s safe to say now that Mary did not expereince joy in that moment. But if she could look back now and see God’s mighty plan, she would be filled with Joy! If she looked back now, her joy would have out-weighed her sorrow.

Let’s not forget when we look at that Nativity Scene- that same Mary kneeling next to the manger also knelt before the foot of the Cross. Christmas is just the beginning of the most beautiful love story of all time.

Did Mary know? She didn’t have to. She walked by faith from the moment the angel spoke to her. All throughout the stages of Jesus’ life, she, too, walked by faith.

Whether or not you have a newborn, I hope this season of Christmas brings you hope. Hope that there is a God who loves you and cares for you. SO much that He sent His only Son to Earth to die for you. While Mary could have never known what was about to unfold, she definitely had faith in a mighty and powerful God who could do all things- including allowing a virgin to give birth to the Savior.

So for all you mothers out there, be like Mary. Have faith even when things are hard!  We may not see all the moving pieces of God’s plan, but He knows! Let him lead the way. Walk by faith!

While we have not been given the mission of being the Mother of our Savior, we have been given the gift of this Savior. We have been given the opportunity to live with God because God came to us!

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7

 

 

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.

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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.

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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