By: Amber Weston
We've all heard the saying; Comparison is a thief of joy. Though I know in my heart that this is true; the tendency to want more than I have, to compare myself and my achievements to other peoples' possessions and achievements, and to feel dissatisfied with my lot in certain areas of life, is an ongoing battle for me. I'll be cruising along, all sunshine, smiles, and gratefulness, then bam, I want what I don't have all over again.
At church last year, we had a series on exile. I found the following definition gripping: exile is when what should be, seems to be losing the battle to what is. In simpler words, exile is when life is not what we think it should be. I have lived this time and again.
As a little girl, I always pictured my life as an adult. I would have a ton of kids, a Chevrolet Suburban, and a beautiful house with a big backyard. As a grown woman, what I have is three kids, until very recently a Honda CRV, and an urban condo with no yard at all.
The discrepancy between what I want and what life is, has caused me to battle a lot of bitterness over the years. Does hating my condo make my life any better? No! Do I need a serious reality check from time to time, and a conviction to be grateful? Yes! Ultimately, if I confront my longing, I know better. I have so much more than lots of people do. There are millions of people in the world who would be so excited to live where I live. I'm sure that all of the people I pass each day at the city bus stop would be downright thrilled to have that CRV. There are women out there who are physically aching to be a mother, while I am so blessed to have three children.
I find that comparison and longing for what others have bleeds into my professional desires. I love to write, but when I am not instantly a bestselling author, then I start to compare my achievements to others. Comparing myself to others is only causing me pain. Comparison shuts me down and causes me to pull away from my work. Very few people are overnight successes, and I know this. #duh But the enemy seeks to make me feel small, and I fall for it over and over again when I let it go unchecked.
Unfortunately, like many women, I also play the comparison game when it comes to my physical self. I hate that I want to look different. I see everyone's best versions all around me, and I don't feel like I can keep up. On other days, when my hair falls in just the right wave, my makeup leaves me feeling fresh, and my muscles feel firm from a workout the day before; at those times, I feel on top of the world. But am I vocalizing that in the same way that I vocalize my negativity? Probably not. I can tell myself once that I look nice that day, but on the other has I tell myself a thousand times that I'm bloated. I lose again when I choose to compare.
Comparison is a thief of joy. Negative feelings breed more negative feelings. And there are six eyes on me all of the time. If your kids are like mine, and you never get a moment alone, our kids are watching us at all times. Comparison is not the legacy that I want to leave for my kids.
I recently read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp, which delves into the practice of thankfulness. Thankfulness is not automatic to us and must be exercised intentionally every day. Ann learns to be mindful of the beauty all around her by looking for things in the world to appreciate little things that might otherwise be ignored. The click of a seatbelt, the crackle in the fireplace, new toothbrushes, boys jiggling blue Jell-O. A practice I have taken to.
Colossians 3:17 says:
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (KJV)
Being thankful is the antidote to the comparison game. The one thing that I should be pressing myself on is being faithful in reading and applying God's word. I should live my life with a heart of gratitude. I should be thankful for everything, big and small.
Ultimately there has to be more than me praying, "Thank you for my blessings." My words and actions must align. I don't want to mislead my children about life's disappointments or sorrows, but I want to model a balance, steering away from the should's.
If I am using that word, I want them to hear this:
You should work hard to achieve your goals.
You should expect that you won't always get what you want.
You should try new things.
You should live your life thinking of how to bless others in word and deed.
You should be truly thankful for the life that you have.
I want to be the type of woman who travels the road to gratitude.
Amber is a wife and the mother of three little lovelies, living is sunny Southern California. Connect with her on her blog The Gilted Life or her Instagram!
By: Queen Majeeda
“Come unto Me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
It's 5 am, and the alarm sounds time to get up. I'm tired, but I must get up because if I don't, I will not have time to spend with God before getting ready for work. The alarm snoozes and sounds two more times like it does every morning because I am genuinely tired – with working, mothering, and all the responsibilities of living. I do a quick reading of God's word and pray a much shorter prayer than I want to so I can get ready, pack my lunch, help my son get ready while my mom packs his lunch, dash through the door and take him to school then head to work before it's late.
Is this living? I feel like I'm living a programmed life. I yearn for more time with God, and so I beg and beseech Him to give me more time so that I don't have to rush my conversation with him. I do this every morning and throughout the day. I feel like other things are taking precedence, and that's not the way it should be. I need time in the morning to be still.
Mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. This yearning to have more time with God has been coming out in my poetry when I find a few minutes to write. My soul is not at rest, and that bothers me. I am frustrated and wonder how will I ever get out of this hamster wheel? Then something major happens. So major, it stops the world!
As a result of COVID-19, everyone is forced to stay at home. Suddenly, I have more time with God. I find peace in the stillness of the mornings, and I commune with God in no hurry. My soul exhales in gratitude to God each morning, I'm not rushing to go anywhere, there's no clock dictating my time spent with the King of the Universe, I am at rest.
Of course, I am pained at the things I see in the news; I empathize with those who are suffering at this time and feel sorrow for those who have lost loved ones. I wish my opportunity to spend more time with God were not amidst this distress, but I believe that these quiet moments allow us to be transformed into the likeness of God.
By: Tamika Mahomes
"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)
As we are experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are now adapting to a new reality of being bound to our homes and mandated to social distancing. And while this sudden limit of socialization has caused frustration, boredom, and some confusion, this is a time not to focus on what we can't do but rather what we can do. While this time has forced us to a place of rest, focus, and reflection, it is a time where we can maximize growing in what the Lord's will is.
In today's passage, we see Paul reminding us that we must not waste time but instead make the most of every opportunity. So I ask you today? What are you making of this opportunity? Are you spending your time binge-watching shows on Netflix? Are you spending your time seeing how much online shopping you can accomplish? Are you spending your time scrolling social media? Or are you spending this time to grow yourself and develop into the person that God is calling you to be?
Watching TV, scrolling social media, it all seems like a way to pass the time, but the truth is the more time you spend pouring those things into your soul, the more those things begin to control and lead your life. Could you imagine if you instead spent those hours in the Bible? Could you imagine how we would grow as God's sons and daughters? Our time is not meant to be wasted but rather we need to make our time so precious that we refuse to allow non-essential things to distract our essential relationship with God.
In closing the passage, Paul reminds us not to be foolish and to understand what the Lord's will is. To understand what the Lord's will is, we have to be close to the Lord; we have to read, know, and understand his word. Church every Sunday and listening to online sermons is simply not enough! In order to see change, we must understand it begins with intentional time with the Father. Psalm 19:7 says:
"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." (KJV)
God's word converts or changes the soul. When we are in the presence of the most high, we have no choice but to be changed and transformed. God's word calls us to be different, it calls us to be set apart, and it calls us to be more like him. So today friend, I challenge you (and myself), to put down the remote, put down the phone, put down the distractions and turn to Jesus, turn to the WORD and ask him, Father, how can I spend this time to be more like you. Let us allow this time to be time unwasted.