Today I was asked “What is the devastating effect of comparison in a woman’s life?” Here is my answer:
“I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it – something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. ” John and Stasi Eldridge Captivating
I read these words in 2005 and thought how is it possible for someone to write the exact things I think! This is spot on in my opinion. I am too much and not enough at the same time! And the kicker is that when living in the prison of comparison I assume and declare that every other woman in my life is a PERFECT balance of all those things that seem out of reach for me. I am left discouraged and with a deep need to make something of myself. Soon a pursuit of self promotion and improvement follows. This pursuit left unchecked takes my time, my energy and my emotions. Time, energy and emotions that could be used to bless His kingdom instead of building my own.
To me the devastating effect of the prison of comparison is that it steals my joy and sidelines me in the work of the Lord.
I recently read part of Jennifer Crow’s book Perfect Lies and she helped me to see a new picture for my heart and mind to focus on. Jennifer’s book lays out nine lies that we are tempted to believe. She tells us that we often have pictures in our mind’s eye that we look at over and over. Pictures that are not true of the Lord, His character and how he views us.
In another area of life over the last year I have spent more time on the sidelines of soccer games and in bleachers watching my kids play than ever before. To tell the truth I delight in watching them play! It just thrills my heart to see them out there giving it their all. I watch with dedicated attention, seeing the moments they make a great pass or play with aggression or the moments where they miss an opportunity. I am one of those mom’s who cheers, but I am careful to only say encouraging words. I don’t want my kids to be knocked down by comments from me, or anyone else. I say things like “You, got it girl. That’s yours, you can do it! Way to go!” Then there are the family sayings such as “empty the tank”. We got that one from Texas Ranger player Michael Young. Young explained that in every game they go out there and “empty the tank”, in other words they give it their all. So I often will shout that out near the end of the game, telling my kids give it your all till the last moment…finish on empty!
Jennifer challenged me to think of a new picture for how God sees me in relation to the things I do for him, and here is where it gets good I thought what if He were my parent sitting up on the bleachers cheering me on. He is up there waiting to see me use the gifts He has given me and He watches with determined attention. He delights when I allow Him to work through me. He yells out “way to go Mandy, that a girl”. He tells me to empty the tank when I am wearing out. But the coolest thing of all is that He is the only one in the stands! There are no others! As I seek to serve him through the gifts he has given me, as I seek to let him shine through my life, as I sit back and let his glory shine He is the only one in the bleachers. My efforts are for an audience of one! It makes no difference if I please anyone else, I play for an audience of one! There have been times in my life that I felt I had failed in the eyes of my fellow players, but in reality it was my audience of one whose opinion mattered. I delight to play for him alone!
When I step up to serve Him I picture the Lord in the bleachers. He sits alone. He has a button on His lapel with my picture on it. That is my girl He says. Just watch as I use the gifts I placed in her, just watch as she lets me steal the show. This is what I made her to do and I delight in seeing her do it!
He has given us each gifts that we might use them to bring him glory. He sits in the bleachers of your life as well and he waits to be your singular audience. He waits to steal your show. He waits for permission to use you as an instruments of his choosing (Acts 9:15). He delights in Himself working through you!
If you are like me you know God can do anything! You have come to Him in faith for many things that you know He is able to do, and yet when the answer you seek alludes your life sometimes you are tempted to move into “God can, but He won’t”. The Israelite people had lived in 20 years of cruel oppression and the oppressor had 900 chariots! The following pod cast is a lesson I taught at our women’s Bible study on Deborah. Join me as we look to the Lord through the life of Deborah.
I am not even sure when I first started using the YouVersion app for reading my Bible, but it is just old hat now. I don’t carry my Bible to as many things as I used to. I don’t need to, I have it with me all the time. I have it with me when I go to church. I have it with me when I am in the carpool line at the school. I have it with me when I volunteer at my kid’s school. I have it with me on field trips, public school field trips. I have it with me when I attend a luncheon with the district superintendent. I have it with me when I am in the grocery store and when I hit the gym. I have it with me on the soccer field. I have it with me because it is on my phone and easily accessed at all these locations!
A few months after I started using my app Bible more than my paper Bible I decided to give the reading plans a try. I was hooked immediately! It is so simple. The reading plans keep a record of where I am, what I have read, what I need to read and all at the touch of my finger. And when I complete a plan I get a little check off thrill and it goes in my completed plans list. For this girl who loves lists and loves to check things off this is a thrill indeed and a good motivator.
Over the last 6 months, or so, I have been reading through the New Testament, and I am only a few chapters away from finishing. It is the first thing I do in the morning, and I mean the first thing! I grab my phone and without waking anyone who remains sleeping in my house I am reading away in my reading plan through different books in the Bible. I love it! It has changed the way I read.
I was excited to discover, thanks to my husband (!!), the following article. John Piper has now put out seven new reading plans available in YouVersion. As soon as I complete the last chapters of Revelation waiting for me I plan to choose one of these new plans and give it a try.
I am a big believer in change, in trying different things! I do so with my Bible reading from time to time. I have had several different methods and enjoyed them each for different reasons. I will be blogging about different ways I have read my Bible in the future to give you ideas to try or fodder to spark your own ideas. In the end what matters is our consistent time in His word in order to have consistent time at his feet, in this case at the touch of a finger! A touch of a finger casts us down at his feet to sit and listen, anywhere, anytime!
This semester the women’s Bible study that I am involved in leadership with is working through Life Principles from the Women of the Bible, by Wayne Barber, Eddie Rasnake and Richard Shepherd. I had the opportunity to teach the lessons on Eve and on Deborah. We covered Eve a several weeks ago and I would like to invite you to listen in. You can find the lesson on our Pod Cast Media page.
Have you ever considered what it would be like to be famous for the worst thing you ever did, your biggest mistake, greatest failure in judgment and action? That is what it would feel like to be Eve. Through the account in Genesis 3 we can see a clear path that led to sin, one we can learn from. Grab a Bible and look along with me at what the Lord has to share with us through the life of Eve.