Thursday, October 18, 2012

How Do I Compare?

At the beginning of the school year I was really struggling to see myself in any kind of good light. And I don't mean that to be self deprecating or "oh woe is poor and pitiful me!" at all. I just see my faults glaringly, and the areas God has gifted me in sparingly. Right around this time I got a phone call from the beautiful Pam Dodge...and we talked for a while, and finally as the conversation was winding down she said...

"Just remember Bethany, that any kind of comparison is an indication of pride." 

Like most of the things that Pam says (remind me to tell you the story of her praying for me in Brazil...) that little sentence kind of knocked me upside the head. ANY kind of comparison? Even the "Oh man...she's such a strong, mature, amazing woman of God. I am nothing like will people ever see me as useful if there's Christian women like HER in the world?"

In case you haven't caught on yet, I'm guilty of comparing myself to people around me daily. Hourly, actually. Which is funny, because I've been asking God to reveal areas of pride in my life...and here they are! I was pretty surprised to find out that pride isn't just arrogance and "I could do better." It's this really sneaky mixture of self-pity, being self-centered, and false humility too. For example. How arrogant is it of me to look at another woman's growth and IMMEDIATELY think...well, how does that reflect on me? How can I do better than her? How can I somehow take HER lessons, HER growth, and make them mine to apply to my life?

To put it another can I take her accomplishments and use them to make me feel valuable?

Because I'm trying to meet a standard I keep setting in my head. A standard defined by the accomplishments, talents and gifts of those around me. I take people's successes, make them my standard, and then try to blow past it because in my prideful heart if I truly tried I could do it better. And if that was the end of the story, it'd be a really vicious, really UGLY cycle because there's no getting out of it until you become an old, grumpy, dissatisfied cat lady.

But other people AREN'T the standard. In fact, other people don't matter! Because the standard is CHRIST...and if we're fighting to measure up to Christ on our own we're fighting a losing battle, because there is no way on earth I will ever measure up to a standard set by Christ. "Well....that's just as depressing isn't it?" you ask.

NOPE. Because Jesus met the standard for me. That's the beauty of the Gospel, God's heart, and Jesus Christ! He watched me struggle to measure up, and KNEW I would never be able to do it. He said "It's okay. You don't need to meet this. I've already done this for you....I've redefined who you are. Now trust me, and live as a new creation. Don't worry about other people...they grow in their own time. Keep your eyes trained on Me. We'll do this together."

But do I? No. Because I've got this nasty little habit of trying to live out of my own power...of thinking I can do it all on my own. There's that pride thing again. And I don't just do it with spiritual way! There's always someone prettier, someone smarter, someone more athletic...always SOMEONE to compare myself to. And without fail, I will always, always do it. Why? Because I care a little too much about how other PEOPLE see me. Because I desire a little too much to have someone tell me I'm valuable, and forget a little too often about the One who already has.

And I guess that's the beauty of it....that God never lets me go :) He never lets me keep chasing people, never lets me struggle on my own. No matter how often I struggle, most of the time AGAINST Him, He continues pointing out my faults because He loves me to much to let me stay proud and independent of Him.

And the BEST part? He never holds me to the standard that I'm holding MYSELF! He never looks and says "Why can't you be more like my daughter over here? SHE'S already learned to trust me." Or "Why can't you pray more often like my son here? He knows what it means to dwell in My presence..." God holds me to a standard that Jesus has ALREADY fulfilled. And because that standard is met, pride is irrelevant. It's stupid! Because I. DIDN'T. MEET IT. I didn't do ANYTHING. I couldn't. Not of my own power, not of my own striving, no matter HOW often I compared myself to girls around me and thought I came out better or worse.

God wasn't repelled by my pride. He wasn't pushed away by my fallen, nasty nature. Which honestly blows my mind, because I think it's GROSS :P But I guess God doesn't work like us. Which is pretty much the best news EVER.

And ALL of this blows my mind!

Anyways :) this was rambling, and probably pretty scattered. And LONG. But it's been on my heart for a really long time, so I'm finally putting it out here :) God is so good!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Break Shenanigans.

Beginning this post by saying I GOT TO COME HOME FOR FALL BREAK! Yep. That's just a teeny, tinny, liiiitle piece of my excitement. Suffice to say I feel really bad for the men sitting in front of me on the plane (who were from the military, and therefore very serious & intimidating) because as soon as the captain said "We are now beginning our final descent to Houston, Texas..." I started bouncing up and down in my seat going "Texas, texas, texas, texas...." over and over again. Yeah.

Pausing the actual "shenanigans" to think about something. I've been reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp (spelling FAIL) as part of my devotion....and if you haven't read it you should, because this woman writes truth in a very unique and somewhat convicting way. It made me start thinking about living life moment by moment...thinking about the joy, grace & gifts in each day as they come instead of looking towards the future constantly.....and yeah, I'm kind of awful at it :P

This weekend gave me a first look at how much that can change your outlook on life. I guess when you slow down and start to look for God in the moment, He actually starts to MEET you there :) I woke up this weekend content. Which is a big deal. For me. I'm bad at being content. And this idea of not worrying/looking towards tomorrow makes WAITING so much easier to! Because you know you have the day in front of you....and tomorrow comes, well tomorrow. With it's own worries & concerns & joys & grace & new mercies. How unbelievably comforting is that?! Knowing that the SECOND a problem or trial enters your life is the second that God also graces you with the perseverance, trust, comfort of His presence, and love to deal with it.

I'd love to sit here and tell you all about the hilarious adventures of Bethany, Rachel & Patricia: Fall Break Edition. But the truth is, we really didn't do much of anything. And it was WONDERFUL :D There was a lot of laying around, a lot of TV watching, and a lot of late night baking. Slash cooking. Slash attempting to make Taco Bell food better than the Taco Bell Company. So yeah, THAT got interesting ;)

Patricia introduced us to the show Supernatural, which is you haven't seen it is a show about two brothers who take on all manners of supernatural (hence the name...go figure) and scary things in a quest to find this thing that killed their mother. Add to this equation a very scared Rachel, and a Bethany with an ACTIVE get the picture. I only watch this show when Turshy is around...because my 16 year old sister gives off an aura of "Hey, don't mess with us." and I'll take that where ghosties are concerned!