New year, fresh start – same old struggles. Wouldn’t it be nice if, as you threw out your old calendar, you could toss your challenges and issues out with it?
“Done with that, let’s move on!”
While hopefully we are learning and growing, any unresolved issues from last year, month or even yesterday are probably going to continue to create problems for us in the future. One issue I’ve struggled with recently is not feeling content in what God has given me (my body, my home, the number of children I have). When focused on my discontent, I have sometimes missed out on, or at least not fully enjoyed, the gifts He has given me.
That’s why I decided to choose a word for 2016 to refocus my mind and heart. I chose JOY because joy is an assurance in the Lord sustaining us through whatever life brings. (Do you pick a word or theme each year? Other Middle Places bloggers have too. Dana chose Generous, Maria’s got Hope and Heather is about to become Daring.)
But once you choose a word or theme, it’s funny how God uses it to stretch and change you in areas you never imagined. For instance, I struggle with comparison. A lot. But I never imagined God would use the concept of joy to deal with this issue. And then I came across a quote:
Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Ouch. Yeah, so I guess comparison is a part of my discontent and ultimately leads me away from the joy found in my relationship with Jesus. And I probably need to work on purging it from my thought process. But it’s become so ingrained within me, it’s going to be difficult.
“Look how easy it was for her to get pregnant. Must be nice.”
“She looks so slim and attractive. And she can probably eat whatever she wants, too.”
“I love her house. It’s so much bigger, cleaner and well-organized than mine.”
True story, these are thoughts I’ve had about dear friends just this week. Thoughts that didn’t bolster me up but made me feel less than. Not able enough, not pretty enough, not good enough.Comparison leaves me feeling less than. Not able enough, not pretty enough, not good enough.Click To Tweet
And yet, I know back stories on each of these sweet gals – struggles they have faced that I haven’t, losses they’ve endured that I pray I’ll never experience. But when I focus on my struggles – the ones that they haven’t gone through, it’s easy to feel like somehow I’ve gotten the short end of the stick.
These thoughts are not only damaging to me, they also hurt my friendships and are unfair to my friends. Because I don’t actually know everything going on in their lives. Maybe the timing of my friend’s pregnancy isn’t really good for her or her relationship, maybe my thin friend is struggling through a hurtful work situation or a chronic illness. Maybe my friend with the nice house is doing everything she can just to keep up with the demands of life and family.
How I’m ditching the comparison trap …
Joy comes from God, comparison does not. It’s a worldly action often ending in hurt and brokenness. We are told in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)
God has a perfect joy-filled plan for each of us, specifically designed for you and me. His plan for your life isn’t going to look like mine and vice versa. And while sometimes – when we compare – that can seem unfair, it’s really a beautiful display of God’s care and love for us. He knows exactly what we need to become exactly who He created us to be. And while I’m still dieting, making organization plans and praying for more children, I’m really focusing on just being the best version of who God has created me to be.
Share the love…