Category Archives: Seriously

Comparison is a b*tch.

comparisonisthethief

I reallyreallyreally tried to make myself title this, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why? Because it’s true and I love that quote. (Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt.)

But unfortunately, that sounds way holier than how I feel about it today.

We talk a lot about comparing ourselves with others. But what about when I compare myself to... myself? I used to look like… I used to be able to… This is a must-read-NOW for any woman in any season of life.Yes, comparison IS the thief of joy. And because she steals my joy (and yours), she is also a bitch. And I’m fed up.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve managed to run several times and even endured some excruciating classes at the Y. This is great improvement over the weeks (months!) prior – and still, I feel dissatisfied.

After a brutal 4-miler Monday, I complained to my friend Amy, “I am so out of shape.” Her response: “Out of marathon shape? Or out of shape? Because those are two very different things.”

Hm. Good point. So good that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  The truth is, I’ve been beating myself up because “I’m in horrible shape” – in horrible shape compared to myself last August, when I ran a marathon. But, if I stop comparing myself to what I could do at the peak of marathon training, and look at myself in light of where I am right now, maybe I could stop feeling like a complete failure.

I could probably write for days about comparing myself with others. But what about comparing myself to… myself? Myself in another age or season of life? The most obvious may be comparing my 35-year-old body to my 17-year-old body. That’s so unfair. I used to look like…. I used to be able to….

Maybe it’s comparing my current spiritual life to that one year in college when I went on two mission trips & spent 3 hours a day reading and journaling. Never mind that I didn’t have anyone to take care of except myself. I used to I used to I used to….

My pastor has often said, “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is so true – and I would venture to add that I struggle with defeat because I compare my current behind-the-scenes with my own highlight reel.

It’s defeating because, “I did XYZ then; what’s wrong with me now?” But that doesn’t take everything into account, does it? I selectively choose the highlights from past seasons of life, and rather than just recalling them as fond memories, I idolize them as a standard I may not be able or even supposed to grasp in this season.

If I keep succumbing to the “grass is greener” syndrome, I’m going to wish away my current season – the NOW ME – perpetually discontent, as my present reality never measures up to the highlights of my past. The THEN ME had problems of her own. She would punch me in the face if she knew I was holding her up as the standard for myself now.

I’m tired of being so mean to myself. I’m tired of not measuring up. If I choose to run, let it be because I love to run, not because I’m chasing something I had before. When I pursue fitness, spiritual disciplines, whatever – let it be because it’s good for me now, not because I’m striving for a past idealized version of myself.

What am I doing today? What is the best version of me TODAY?  

What is it for you?

 

Press In

I had a conversation with a dear friend the other day who is dealing with great uncertainty in a significant area of her life. “I’m trying to trust God. But how do I trust God, how am I trusting God, with these emotions I’m feeling?”

I listened. She cried. I cried silently on the other end of the line. These emotions. These waves of emotions, threatening to wash away her trust. Threatening any certainty that she ever really trusted at all. If I really trust God in this situation, why do I feel scared? worried? lonely? unsure? heartsick?

What do I do with these emotions?

Psalms

I was reading in Psalms last week… It’s the big book in the middle of the Bible… Try just flipping there this week, name an emotion, and see if you can’t find it in there. Sure, there are the ones you’d expect to find in the Bible – joy, praise, thanksgiving, awe, & wonder. But you’ll also find plenty of fear, worry, loneliness, uncertainty, heartache… All spilling forth in one book, chapter after chapter, mostly from the heart & pen of a man named David.

Psalm 9 Psalm 22

Psalm 66 Psalm 74

What is the common thread of the cries of David’s heart? The thread I see is that regardless of the cry – “holy” or “holy $%#&” – he poured it out to God. There was no time-out to collect himself, clean this bit up, tidy that thought there… He poured it all out to God, and thereby pressed himself into God.

This is a vulnerable act. This is trust. Isn’t it? Trusting that God will not only hear my heart, but that He’ll not reject it?

When a man takes one step toward God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time. (The Work of the Chariot)

The quote above moved me to tears. The Bible even supports the claim in the story of the Prodigal/Lost Son. You can read it in context here, but essentially a man’s son left home to live it up and squander his wealth and go his own way… that didn’t end up going so well, and he eventually had a change of heart, came to his senses, and turned toward home. Even though the son had acted in a way that had surely broken his father’s heart, the Bible says:

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed  him. (Luke 15:20; emphasis mine)

Do you see this is us and God? Do you see that the father was watching for him? Do you see that as soon as the father saw his child take a step toward him, even while he was still a long way off, he ran to his child.

I love the picture this paints for us as people who are far from God, who can come home to Him for salvation through Jesus. Jesus waits expectantly, compassionately, for all to receive His gift of salvation, forgiveness, freedom.

I also am moved by the picture this paints for me as a believer. As someone who has already chosen to receive the salvation Jesus has offered. I trust God, but… these emotions. These emotions can feel a long way off from trust. What do I do with that?

I bring it to Him. All of it. I don’t try to tidy it up first. I go straight to Him and press in.

God is not put off by you. Do you know that?

You’re not too much for Him. You’re His treasure. You. Yes, you. Messy you. Emotional you. Up and down you. Doubtful you. Skeptical you. All-over-the-place you. Precious you. Fearfully and wonderfully made you.

Beloved you.

walking through winter

I had a pretty significant revelation today.

First, can I be honest? Over the past two weeks, I've been kind of sinking. Mothering my children has been overwhelming me. Homeschooling my kindergartener is about to take. me. out. y'all. And I've been paralyzed by everyday tasks… laundry, groceries, cooking… even responding to texts and emails from friends.

Revelation: it's winter.

Okay, so technically the first day of winter isn't until December 21. But work with me here. Can we agree it's wintertime

Winter & I don't usually get along very well. Less daylight – let alone sunshine… it does something funky to me.

Yes, I've heard all about Seasonal Affective Disorder - but this can be pretty discouraging because I already take an antidepressant every day of the year (we agreed we're being honest, right?). So, seeing as I'm already "on something," I should be fine through winter, right? Wrong.

Winter, I've learned, is its own animal when it comes to my mental health. I don't mean this as an excuse or some sort of "woe is me" scenario. It just is what it is. And remembering it and respecting it is a huge part of the battle for me.

Just for fun, let's pretend you have a gluten intolerance. (Sorry.) But, you forget. (I don't know how you could forget that, but go with it.) And so you start eating amazing glutenous food, but then you feel sick and blah and bad but you don't know whySo you pray – you were already doing that, but apparently you need to do more of it – but why aren't things getting better? So then you feel a whole other kind of bad because you don't know how to fix what's wrong and WHY CAN'T YOU JUST SUCK IT UP AND FEEL BETTER ALREADY.

But then you remember you have a gluten intolerance. So you cut out gluten – which is hard – but not as miserable as the effects of ignoring or forgetting your body's sensitivity to gluten.

Okay, so I can't "cut out" winter. But I can find some relief in taking the mystery out of the equation. I'm not just mysteriously feeling worse and Oh no, am I getting sick, or Oh crap, do I have Mono or something, or OMG I AM A WASTE OF A PERSON I'M ALREADY ON MEDS AND I STILL CAN'T KEEP MY SHIT TOGETHER.

No.

It is winter. Not some metaphorical "winter." Actual winter. Which has actual effects on the way my brain works. A "winter intolerance," if you will. And since I have lived through a few winters before this one, I have found that surviving winter requires some specific things from me:

  • Remember it's winter — pretty basic, but you might notice that it's December 10, and it just occurred to me today, so we'll keep this one at the top of the list
  • Get quality sleep — stop laying on the couch late at night, nodding off in front of the TV or computer, saying "I'm too tired to go to bed." What does that even mean!? 
  • Eat nourishing foods — for me, this bar can be set relatively low – I just mean do better than a spoonful of peanut butter and the leftovers from my kids' plates for lunch; but this also includes being mindful of my coffee and alcohol consumption (which also affects my sleep habits)
  • Get in regular, good, intense workouts — as in, walking upstairs doesn't cut it; work up a good sweat and get the endorphins going

Unfortunately, the above could also be titled "Top Four Hardest Things to do When I Generally Feel Like Crap During Winter." But the alternative – ignoring the needs of my brain and my body and spiraling further down – is worse. I know this. And armed with this knowledge, I feel a bit less out of control. And a bit more like myself.

Someone else's survival list may look different from mine, and that's okay. The point is, gosh it feels good to know I'm not just going crazy for crazy's sake. There is something actually going on here – and there are things I can do to help myself feel (more) human again.

Lord, You wired me this way for some reason. I can wish it away all day long – or I can own it and walk with You through it.