I am really attempting to be purposeful during this sabbatical. In an effort to be purposeful, I've created some goals. I actually dislike the "G" word... "Goal". I absolutely have dreams and things I desire to achieve but I feel like if I call them goals, and I don't meet them, then I've failed. But for our purposes here... I'll refer to them as "goals." And I have 4 of them... for now. But I'll get to the other two in later posts.
So I want to have an open heart. I want to be open to new experiences, cultures, ways of living, modes of thinking... And I want to have a teachable spirit. I want to be receptive to the lessons that I have to learn.
There have been times in my life I feel like I have heard the same "lesson" many times over the course of a few days, weeks or months. You know...the kind of situation where the same topic keeps coming up over and over again. I believe this is one way The Lord speaks to us. I hear the same lesson in conversation with friends, family and acquaintances, it comes up in the books, articles or scripture that I read and I hear it from sermons at church. In years past, I remember these lessons being about love, grace and living life now. One particularly memorable lesson in college was this idea that we all have a "terminal illness"... meaning we are all going to die, and we don't know when, so you better live life now. In my life as a Christian, John 10:10 sums this all up for me: "I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and have it to the full."
And now, I find myself learning another lesson.
In June, I was sitting around a campfire near Vail with my friends Leah, Annette and Kim. Kim said something that struck a nerve. She said, "Comparison is the thief of all joy." It turns out this quote is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt. And it is so true. Think about it. You finally get with the times and you buy an iPhone 4 and you LOVE it... only to discover the iPhone 5 came out a week later. You get all dressed up with your new super cute Target outfit and you are looking GOOD... only to discover that your friends are rocking some designer style. You have a 4 month old nephew and he is the MOST adorable baby in the world... only to discover there is a cuter baby. Oh wait. That's impossible.
Anyway... You smelling what I'm stepping in?
So, I liked this quote. And I found I was able to use it to encourage others in various conversations over the last month.
And then I heard a form of it at church on Sunday. As a side note...church was awesome. I went to a church where a friend from my high school years is now the associate pastor. It's super cool to see what The Lord is doing at Bradley Epworth Church and how this body of believers love The Lord and each other. A woman from the congregation was sharing a condensed version of what she had shared at a women's retreat. Her message was on " the marks of a mature believer." Let's just say that I ran out of room on my bulletin taking notes.
One of the first things that she spoke was "Be who God called you to be." She was referencing Ephesians 4... "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received." I wrote down all of her other main points about hindrances to spiritual maturity and measures of maturity. But then she said that in regards to using comparisons: don't do it.
And then I began to reflect... Maybe this word is for me. What's The Lord trying to say to me? How do I compare myself it others?
If I compare myself to others out of my insecurities...I think my biggest battle has been in comparing my beauty to others. For many different reasons, it's a bigger struggle when I'm here in the Midwest than it is in the mountains. But I am reminded that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that I should be who God made me to be... because I'm the best me there is. So I am going to walk fully in that.
If I compare myself to others out of pride... I struggle with thinking that I have all the answers. A friend and I jokingly say that everyone should just ask us how things should be done because we're pretty sure we have it all figured out..."jokingly." I also say that I should be a "consultant." I could tell people what to do and make money doing it? Awesome! But, again, I'm reminded from Ephesians 4 that I should be "completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." I have work to do there.
Lesson learned...or rather... I'm learning this lesson. I'm sure I'll need more reminders in the days to come. But I'll be looking for more lessons to receive with an open heart and teachable spirit. I'll keep you posted on how that works out.