Sunday, July 13, 2008

True-ism: Comparison (Part 2)

This week we have been looking at Romans 12: 2, 5 & 6.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, withouenviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.
The True-ism for this week is: 

When I compare myself with others, I engage 

in a game that has no winners. God, help me 

remember that what matters most is that you 

love me, just as I am.

As you all know, I took a blogging break this week. It was an awesome week because I had the opportunity to spend time with my kids, but also with people I really enjoy. 
There were also moments when I could really be quiet...when I could think.
And listen.
I asked the Lord: How do I make comparisons that tear myself (and others) down, instead of build up?
What the Lord kept bringing to my mind was the time I led worship for Ladies Bible Study in North Texas.  
We went to a very large church. At that time the Women in the Word ministry had at least 250-300 women every Thursday morning for bible study. Through a series of events I ended up on the worship team. 
Eventually the leader of our team stepped down to become a first time mom to three children she adopted internationally. Around that same time the gal who had played the guitar left too (Hi CWD!) and I was appointed leader.
I had had a lot of musical experience in my life but I knew that I wasn't exactly "qualified" to be a worship leader. At the time I didn't play the guitar and I had little knowledge of what it took to lead worship for such a large group of women. 
If ever there was a time to compare, this was it. 
However, I was way too busy trying to figure out what I was going to I prayed.
God sent us an amazing piano player (we'll call her J), who not only could play in all styles, but was familiar with all types of music, both contemporary and traditional. She also had a degree in music and played at least four different instruments, so she was able to teach me things I needed to know.
God also sent J's friend, E, who was an amazing bass player. She would come in and quietly play. She was fun and friendly and laid back. She lent a calm to the group.
Then there was our other E, who sang harmony to my melody (and occasionally played guitar.) Apart we were both decent singers, but together, we were amazing (if I do say so myself!)
After a while I began to dream of finding a girl drummer. God then sent EW to our Girl Band. EW would come to practice and I would say, "I want this song to have percussion, but since I can't even sing and clap my hands at the same time, you're pretty much on your own." She would look at me and say, "OK" and she would make up these rhythms that were awesome!
Together, the five of us were amazing. There wasn't a Thursday that someone didn't comment on how they loved the worship portion of bible study. 
Now that I have boldly boasted about our team...I am not being modest when I tell you that it wasn't because of my vast worship-leading skills that made us the team we were. It was because God had a plan. 
By now you may be asking yourself what any of this has to do with comparison? 
The truth in this situation was that I knew that I had no control. I knew that I could not play piano. I knew that I could not play bass. As a melody-singing soprano I could not sing those rich alto harmonies, and I certainly could not play the drums! 
I love the Roman passage above, especially the last sentence: 
...let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, withouenviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.
You know, in this situation it would have been easy to look at the talents I didn't have as "defects", or problems that kept me from being a One Woman Show. 
For example, I could have come in and sat down at that piano and asked God why, (after taking three years of first year piano and literally making my piano teacher cry), I never learned to play? 
I could have sat at that drum set and crossed my arms in ungrateful willfulness that I had not been given the gift of rhythm. 
I could have cried out to the heavens that it was unfair that I could not sing harmonies and melodies at the same time! 
I could have held a grudge that I couldn't carry a strong, solid bass for every situation in my life.
I could have (and in other areas of my life I most certainly have!)...but I didn't, because I knew that these were not things that I could fix
I knew that these gifts and talents were not something I could muster up, paint on, or fit into. 
I knew this situation was way out of my control.
I had no choice but to "go ahead and be what I was made to be". In this particular situation I was to be a soprano with some leadership skills. 
God took care of the rest.
This week I was reading a devotional I was given a long time ago called "Let Go" by Fenelon
It's a series of forty spiritual letters.
The title of Letter 13 was so very appropriate for me this week: 

Despair  at Our Imperfections Is A
Greater Obstacle Than the
Imperfection Itself

Here is the gist of Fenelon's letter:
"...when we concentrate on our defects, forgetting that Jesus loves us, we become restless, the presence of God is interrupted, and the flow of God's love is hindered. The humiliation we feel about our own defects can often be a greater fault than the original defect itself if it keeps you from moving into the realization of God's love."
Last week I mentioned that Comparisons happen in every area of our lives. Never was this more true for me than when my focus was on my physical appearance. I couldn't walk into a room without wondering what I looked like; without comparing myself to those who were in the room with me. I couldn't have a normal conversation with someone because I was too busy thinking about myself.
Comparison is the quickest road to failure. It's a forked path. One way leads to Discontent. The other leads to sister-cities: Never Starting or Quitting
Both roads lead to Nowhere.
My challenge for you (as you continue to think on Comparison) is to focus on those things in life that God has given you, and also to become more aware of how God uses those "defects" by allowing others in your life and ministry to compliment you. 
Allowing God to use your gifts and talents alongside someone else's gifts and talents is a blessing, if we can get our heads out of ourselves. 
I pray that you can identify area's in your life that you use comparison as a motivation to change into something your weren't created to be, and instead ask God to motivate you towards His plan for your life! I pray that you will not "let yourself get taken up with the lesser of the two!" (Fenelon)
***I would love to know what your thoughts are on comparison! If you choose to write please sign up under Mr Linky! Also, in this next week we are focusing on Criticism and Phil. 4:8. Join us!


flyinjuju said...

Thanks for your post. After looking around at the truecampaign I realize that this is an issue that speaks to my heart. I have a 3month old as well as a 3yr old and almost 2yr old and body image has always been a struggle. After having 3 kiddos, I would love to have my pre-preggo body back, but I was discontent then too. I could always "tone" up more or whatever. All that to say, this is very timely as I am putting way too much focus on my outward appearance. I relate with the soccer mom on the website (even though we don't play soccer)who's 3 year old is watching and learning from her example of disliking her body. That is so sobering.
A note on comparison, my mom has always said there is always a loser when you compare, and how true that is. I am reading through Romans this month so this is just an extra blessing!
Joy in Jesus,

Anonymous said...

Oh, comparison is such a difficult and tricky place for me. I can easily fall into that trap. Thanks for such encouragement. I'll put a link into a post I wrote about comparison as it relates to envy.

Carrie and Jim said...

I loved your post. I love this project. I changed my post three times before I got up what I really wanted to say. Maybe my issue is a lack of words? Ha, Ha thanks for allowing God to use you to help others.

Tanya said...

Thank you for this. Challenging, encouraging, a great start to this Monday.

Unknown said...

You don't have a blog! You have such a great name, it totally needs a blog!

Just teasing...

I wanted to email you but your profile doesn't give an address...thank you for your honesty.

It isn't easy to admit that comparison (or any other strong hold) is affecting any one else but ourselves. But the truth is that we leave a legacy in this life, wether we like it or not! How much better to leave one that says we trusted in God, in what He gave us, and we allowed our lives to influence those around us in the unique ways we were created for!

You are right, our kids are watching us, and they are learning.

I think it is awesome you took some time to look around (and really listen!) to the True Campaign site. I think you will be better for it!


PS: oh! Your Mom was one smart cookie!

Shelley @ My Treasure Hunt said...

When I was in college, I was in a small group Bible Study (all girls) and we used the book, "The Search for Significance" by Robert McGee. That Bible study impacted me deeply. He basically uses the study to remind us that our significance is found in Christ and talks about ways we try to find our significance outside of Him. One of the things he discusses is comparison. Your post is so true and brought back some great memories from that Bible study.
I love the quote about despair over imperfections being worse than the original problem. That is so true-- and something that I needed to hear right now. I am glad I read this post. Thanks for sharing. You ARE using this blog as a ministry!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I'm enjoying these posts so much, Kellie.