Monday, October 31, 2011

The Quicksand of Comparison – Part 2

After dinner with my friend the other day, my little head was spinning. The evening wore on and I almost wore myself out numbering the countless reasons why my dreams would be better off in the heart of someone other than me. After all I just spent time in the presence of “together-ness”, and I don’t feel I look anything like the “has her act together” kind of woman I saw.

But never fear…Like I said before I’ve grown up a little and I know a little better these days. So here are a few of my tricks of the trade for combating those stinky lies that creep into my mind on occasion, coercing me to compare myself to another of God’s children, then tempting me to declare myself incapable of carrying out the plans and dreams that dance within me:

  1. Expose the lie: Yep! Call it out. The secret power of the comparison trap is rooted in deception. If you become convinced that you can’t because someone else already does, then deception wins. Expose that lie!
  2. Embrace the truth: The truth for me is always rooted in God’s word. When I find myself teetering on the edge of the quicksand of comparison, I very quickly, grab hold of the rope that is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (emphasis mine)

I really don’t have to waste time comparing myself to someone else to feel like I don’t have what it takes to reach a dream or accomplish a goal. Newsflash! I DON’T have what it takes… without the strength of Christ within me. At the end of the day that really should remove the weight from my shoulders, don’t you think?

Finally, after exposing and embracing, it’s time to:

  1. Re-focus and remind. (I know you expected more E words. Me, too, but I just couldn’t think of any. lol…) Right here is where I say, “Focus Monica!” I pull myself off of my sister’s path and focus myself back on the road ahead of me, where my dreams and goals await. I, then, remind myself of important things like who I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going, why I want to go there, who I want to reach when I get there, etc.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with watching and admiring the accomplishments of others. I am certainly not above learning a thing or two from how someone else handles her business.

Learn from? Sure!

Be encouraged by? Certainly!

Receive wisdom from? No doubt!

Follow? Absolutely NOT!

The fact is I’m not like my friend. As phenomenal as she is, I have my own brand of phenomenal-NESS (that is SO NOT a word, lol) going on, and I need to embrace it. I’m not like anyone else, for that matter, and neither are you. I’m not supposed to be, and neither are you. The dreams and visions taking shape in my mind, heart and spirit are forming there because they are unique to me. Some elements may be the same or look similar, but my path and my stroll along said path will not be identical to anyone else’s.

Alas, the difference – the undeniable, unmistakable, unique factor that will join forces with the strength of Christ to make my dreams come true is…wait for it…ME! My life, my ways, my gifts, my personality, my voice, my story, my past, my present, my obedience, HIS timing, my path, my steps, my love of music, my love of writing, my love of marriage, my love of ministry, my love of God – ME!

Completely ME,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Quicksand of Comparison

I am hyper-sensitive these days, so it doesn’t take much to rock my boat. I try to remain as guarded as I can, but some days I miss it. It’s on those days that I’m amazed to see just how tricky my emotions can be. Sometimes, they come along like a gust of wind, hurl me overboard and leave me for the waves to wash me ashore wherever!

Case in point….

Last week, I was blessed to break bread with a friend I hadn’t seen in far too long. I shudder to try to guesstimate when the last time was that we spent some actual face time together. And I certainly won’t dare even whisper about how long it took us to FINALLY sync calendars for this little outing. However, if I did I would probably whisper something along the lines of “way TOO LONG”. That was a whisper, by the way.

It was nice to have a couple of uninterrupted hours to eat, chat, and just catch up on life. A lot has happened since we last saw each other – family stuff, career stuff, life stuff. As we parted company, we agreed we will NOT allow so much time to slip by before we see each other again. God, please hold us to that.

I was so delighted to see my girl friend. She inspires me more than she knows. However, my emotions have a strange knack for turning inspiration into something quite foul and un-Godly. May I tell you a secret? After visiting with her I often want to crawl off into the nearest dark cave and stay there, eating berries, and drawing stick figures on the walls until Jesus comes (or until some crazy animal carries me away, whichever happens first.)! You’re laughing, but I am so serious (even though I’m laughing, as well).

Now before your mind gets to wandering let me explain why, through NO FAULT of hers, I tend to feel this way.

When I met my friend nearly four years ago I could instantly tell she was one of those women who had her act together. The scent of confidence emanated from her as fragrant as the newest Coco Chanel perfume. She is a woman, actively using her gifts to positively impact the lives of others and she is very good at what she does. It’s what we all want someone to say about us, isn’t it?

Throughout the community and beyond, she is greatly admired for the work she does. I am one of her many cheerleaders – proud of all she’s accomplished and excited about the promising road that lies ahead of her. In some ways I used to want to follow in her path. However, when I look at her footsteps, the prints look far too gargantuan for my little shoes to fill. The moment I begin to think this way is the moment my emotions are now dragging me along by my ponytail and having their merry little way with me. Not good!

So what do I do? How do I respond when this happens? Honestly, I used to throw my hands up in surrender and go with the downward flow. Fortunately, I’ve grown up a little and know a little better now. So, tomorrow, I’ll share how I’ve learned to shift to solid ground when I find myself sinking fast in the quicksand of comparison. I hope you’ll join me.

Completely ME,

 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Handcrafted, Part 2

Happy hump day ladies! I told you I’d be back. Ok, so where was I? Oh yes, a Saturday afternoon reading of Genesis 2:22:

The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man (Genesis 2:22 NASB,
emphasis mine)

Ahhh, the creation passage is one of my favorites. Unexpectedly, the reading of this verse led me on a trip back down memory lane, to the sweet little home design and accessories boutique I’d visited earlier that day. My mind still marveled at the beautiful display of uniquely handcrafted women’s jewelry I found there. I wish I’d taken some pictures, ladies. The items were really pretty!

There were necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. Some were sold in sets. Each piece was so wonderfully unique and mildly flamboyant in design. Just enough flair to prompt the ladies around you to do what we all love (be honest), and that’s stop us and say, “Wow! That’s pretty! Where did you get that?” Just makes a girl’s day, doesn’t it?!

Although the pieces were not grossly expensive, I did note they were certainly not for the lowly of budgets either. Handcrafted items usually are not. To the maker, I’m sure, there is probably no price to be paid that would adequately represent the value of their heart and soul intricately woven into each piece. Heart and soul… Now who can put a fair price on that?

Handcrafted items often contain one of a kind design flaws. In some instances these imperfections even enhance the value of the piece. Whether reflected in the price or not, items made by hand often feel more valuable, don’t they? I don’t know about you, but I feel an undercurrent of reverence for the fact that someone took their time and used their talent to so carefully and skillfully form, from raw materials, something so beautiful and unique with their very own hands.

And this is the message the Lord wanted me to receive on that. He wanted me to reflect on the truth that I was carefully, thoughtfully and skillfully handcrafted by Him, and this makes me extremely valuable.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  – Psalm 139: 13 NASB; emphasis mine)

My design is unique, identical to none other. Even my flaws are not meant to burden me as blemishes of shame. Oh how I wish I’d learned this VALUABLE lesson on value years ago. But better late than never, right?!

Maybe you’re struggling with understanding how precious and valuable you are. Maybe these days you’re feeling like K-Mart instead of Coach, Big Lots instead of Bloomingdale’s. LOL…Believe me, I’ve been there (and still there sometimes depending on the day, :-)). Maybe you’ve been waiting for someone, anyone to encourage you and tell you just how valuable you are. Well today’s your day, girlfriend, because I’m here to tell you! YOU. ARE. VERY. VALUABLE! I hope those words reach from my fingertips to your heart today.

Now here’s what I suggest we do. Let’s find a note card, some paper, some tissue (clean, of course) or something and write down the words of Genesis 2:22 and Psalm 139:13, 14.

Handwritten 🙂 "Handcrafted" Scripture Card

See! I’ve got mine! Let’s keep them handy and pull them out as reminders of the fact that God almighty used His hands to form us, to create us, and handcrafted translates to very valuable.

Until next time…

Completely handcrafted, valuable ME,