Are You Ready to Break the Measuring Stick? {A Book Review}

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Sometimes the places where we find our emotional outlets can also become the places we fall into the trap of comparison.

I know. Several years ago, I found myself in one of these places.

MOPS had become a lifeline for me. I was in a new town where I didn’t know many moms, and I craved connection with other humans who were going through the midnight feedings, the endless diaper changes and lack of sleep.

I could leave my kid for a couple of hours in a place where I knew he’d be safe and commiserate with other moms. What could be better than that?

I left the meetings feeling refreshed and ready to take on another day of mothering. That is, until I started comparing myself to the other moms. And my kid to their kids. And my house their house and my neighborhood to theirs.

Comparison is a slippery slope, isn’t it?

One minute we’re thanking God for a sense of normalcy and community, and the next we’re questioning our abilities as a mom and our kid’s progression on the milestone chart.

Is there a way to get over it? Can we put away our measuring sticks and live in the fullness of our unique identities in Christ?

I believe we can, but it takes a daily commitment. It takes a daily renewal of the mind and surrender to God’s ways instead of our own.

When I learned my dear friend, Kristine Brown, was writing a book about comparison, I was thrilled. I was even more excited when I got my hands on my own copy of the book. As I read through its pages, I was not disappointed.

Kristine takes the reader through the stories of three women in the Bible who struggled with comparison and gives practical, doable steps to help us turn our comparison into peace in who we are. Even though comparison is not limited to motherhood or physical appearance, she illustrates that the same steps can be used to conquer its many forms.

Many times as I was going through the chapters I found myself nodding my head in agreement many times thinking, “Me too. Me too.” Seeing how other women from scripture struggled with the same tendencies we face today and how they overcame them empowered me to do the same. It showed me I am not alone, and with God’s help, I can find peace with who He created me to be as a wife, mother, writer and friend.

We all struggle with comparison at some point. The question is are we going to let it dictate our lives or do something about it?

If you’re like me and you’re tired of chasing after other people’s goals, achievements and dreams, I highly recommend Kristine’s book. She will show you there is a better, more Spirit-driven way.

With God’s help, we can break the measuring stick and walk in the freedom He gives.


Over It SPINE (1)

Over It: Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan is available now on Amazon and where books are sold. You can purchase your copy here.

Kristine Brown is a wife, dramatist, life-long educator and mentor. She is the founder of More Than Yourself, Inc. college scholarship program for junior high girls.

You can also find Kristine on her blog, More Than Yourself, and on her growing Facebook community.


*We will continue our Rays in the Storm series on Thursday. Thank you to everyone who has read, commented and made my guest writers feel welcome. You are a blessing!

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Purpose

When Comparison Steals Your Purpose

The morning was full of potential. I got up on time, didn’t check social media, and made the kids breakfast.

Then, after dropping my son off at the bus stop, I checked my email. And everything went downhill.

The intent of the message was positive. My reaction to it was not.

This successful blogger wanted to let me in on all of the secrets to success. And I’m sure deep down somewhere that I craved this knowledge.

But what I saw? The numbers. How many readers visited her site. How much income she brought in each month. It was though these stats represented some invisible gate-keeper and I was stuck on the outside, pushing a door that wouldn’t budge.

Comparison turns our vision into opposition. It turns our joy into jealousy.

As I sat there that Tuesday morning basking in self-pity, and knew I needed an attitude adjustment. And do you know what’s beautiful about asking God to change your attitude?

He always answers.

Sometimes he asks us to take a good long look at ourselves. Other times he sends a word of encouragement through a friend or family member. But he never fails to deliver.

Will you continue reading with me today? I’m sharing what God showed me about small beginnings over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

When You Feel Like You’re Missing the Party

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I could not stop looking at the other table.

I tried to focus on my eating my meal and made eye contact with the women around me. We talked about our writing experience, what drew us to the conference and our hometowns. But every few minutes, my eyes would drift back to the table parked directly in front of the stage.

Filled with authors, speakers and book contracts, I was certain this circle was the place to be.

What were they talking about? What was the source of their laughter?

A seat there would make me content, wouldn’t it? My mind filled with images like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, convinced there was a golden ticket just out of my grasp and I had to get my hands on it. Wonders beyond my wildest imagination waited behind closed doors.

My mind was so preoccupied with crazy assumptions that I almost missed the woman sitting across the table from me.

Will you continue reading with me? I’m sharing the rest of the story over at PurposefulFaith.com today. Click here to join us.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

When Comparison Threatens to Steal My Community {A Guest Post}

life unstuck intro

I immediately recognized my friend Kristine Brown when I attended She Speaks in July, 2014 and she welcomed me with a warm hug. She has become a continual source of encouragement to me on this writing journey, and I pray I bless her as much as she’s blessed me over the past year and a half. What I love about Kristine’s writing is her willingness to address tough topics like comparison and insecurity and share her experiences with vulnerability and strength. Please give her a warm welcome as we continue our journey to becoming unstuck.

Kristine bio pic

Kristine is a writer, dramatist, and teacher. She desires to support women in their spiritual lives with practical teaching for real-life struggles. Kristine devotes her time to her family, freelance writing, and her non-profit ministry, More Than Yourself, Inc. You can read more from Kristine at www.morethanyourself.com.

When Comparison Threatens to Steal My Community

I sat there at this familiar event – one I’d attended many times during the past ten years of living in our tight-knit community. In small town Texas, everyone comes to support the team, like one big family. But in the midst of the festivities – the laughter and the cheers – I silently watched. I saw friends gathering together, parents hugging children, neighbors joking and yes, taking selfies. Suddenly I felt alone. Disconnected. Like everyone in the community was a part of the community, except me.

I remembered the feeling; it was somehow familiar. I’d felt the same way when we first moved to this new place ten years ago. Like an outsider, like everyone had something I wanted – connection. So why after ten years would these feelings of loneliness come flooding back to my mind? Why after loving, serving, and building relationships here would this feeling of emptiness overwhelm me?

Because the enemy wants me to be discontent with me.

“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.” Galatians 6:4 NIV

Beneath these emotions are the underlying struggles I don’t like to talk about. Talking about them would be admitting my weakness, exposing my sin. Because that’s what these struggles are – a battle with myself. Pride. Jealousy. Comparison.

Thankfully, when I unmask my challenges, God’s peace overflows from my heart. When I share my struggles, I find contentment like I’ve never known.

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In his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul encouraged his fellow believers not to fall into the trap of comparison, but instead to “test their own actions.” In other words, we need to do everything for the right reasons. Not out of jealousy or because we are trying to measure up to someone else. Our actions should flow out of the love we have for our Savior. His sacrificial love for us is more than enough.

We find true contentment in our relationship with Jesus.

The verse above offers hope to those of us who feel stuck living up to an ideal we’ve created in our minds. This verse brought comfort to me on that day and reminded me of God’s glorious promise.

And in true God-fashion, as soon as I claimed His words over my negative thoughts, he affirmed it in my heart. A sweet lady I met when we first moved to town so many years ago made her way to the empty seat beside me. We chatted. We reminisced. We talked about our families.

God taught me once again to claim contentment and let go of comparison.


Kristine put together a power-packed list of scriptures that help her when comparison threatens to overtake her thoughts. She’d love to share it with you. This link will take you over to More Than Yourself, where you can receive your free printable, 21 Scriptures for Overpowering Comparison.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

Chasing Someone Else’s Dream

life unstuck intro

Two nights ago, my oldest son turned our kitchen into a dance floor. With moves I’d never seen or knew he had, he moved around our little rancher with joy.

It turns out, he’d been learning dances like the Sid Shuffle and the Cha Cha at school during what his teacher calls, “brain breaks.” My husband and I could not contain our laughter and smiles as we asked each other, “Where did he get this?”

My hubby and I are not known for our dance moves. Chris affectionately refers to my dancing persona as Elaine from Seinfeld. And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, Google it to give yourself a good laugh.

Turns out, coordination is not one of the gifts God gave me. Marching in the school band and playing instruments is more in my wheelhouse, although I happily move around the floor with my son and join the fun.

What struck me as I watched my son strut around our kitchen is this: he was being himself, complete and unwavering. And if he can carry that carefree abandon with him for the rest of his life, I will be a content Mama.

As a girl, I remember watching a live production of the Nutcracker. Dancers glided across the stage with perfect grace and poise and my soul drank it in like parched soil in need of water.

And as much as I loved every minute of the performance, what filled me most was a sense of longing. A sense that these performers had something deep within them that I lacked.

What I didn’t realize at the time was I didn’t lack anything. I was simply chasing after the wrong dream.

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God apportions each one of us with gifts and grace to reflect his glory. When we chase someone else’s gift, our souls darken a light created to shine.

When I pursue someone else’s gift or talent, I become stuck because I can’t see I already have. We are each unique creations made to tell a story of God’s love, but when we compare and are jealous, we turn his story into a competition.

Do you know what our gifts are supposed to create? Unity. Not envy or clamoring for what someone else has, but a complete, full and functioning church working together to spread his love to the ends of the earth.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:16 NIV

God, help us. Helps us to see the grace and good gifts you’ve given to each one of us according to your plan and the story began weaving before the foundation of the earth.

May we work together instead of against each other. May we be a reflection of your glory and not a stumbling stone for others.

GIVEAWAY

Congratulations Patsy! You are the winner of one copy of The Key to Everything by Matt Keller. Thank you for participating.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

*Linking up these communities: Grace & Truth, #LiveFreeThursday

What We Really Do When We Compare

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The shouts echo from the family room and as much as I try to avoid them, I know I’ll have to referee. I can’t see what’s taking place, but I know. My rising blood pressure is a sure sign.

As I stand in the doorway, my suspicions are confirmed. There are hundreds of toys strewn across the house, but my three-year-old wants the one his big brother is playing with.

It doesn’t matter that the airplane is missing a wheel and a fin. The reason he wants it is quite simple. His brother has it.

As I kneel down before his tiny frame and try to reason with him, mustering as much calm as I can, I can see how I’m going to have to divert his attention elsewhere. But to divert a determined, strong-willed child’s focus this is no easy task.

Every mom goes through it: the stage of “mine.” Everything has the “mine” title and there is no discernment about it. If the child sees it, it is his.

And am I so different? Sure, I do a better job of controlling my fits of anger and masking symptoms, but the jealousy and coveting still threaten overtake me when I don’t guard my heart and mind.

Often, my gauge for how well I’m doing is comparison to others in a similar role. I look at what they have. I take mental notes on the goals they’ve achieved.

When I think they’re moving forward at a quicker pace than I am or are more in the spotlight than me, the flesh often takes over. What about me, God? Haven’t I been faithful? Didn’t I do what you asked me to do?

It isn’t that I don’t want them to be blessed or see their dreams realized. I know how hard they’ve worked. I’ve witnessed the sweat and the tears firsthand.

No, it’s how my mind distorts their progress. I see their success as somehow taking away from my movement forward. I take my eyes off my ultimate goal, Christ, and instead begin running down a rabbit trail of discouragement and self-defeat.

The truth is, when I compare I am resurrecting my old, dead self. I am saying my new identity in Him isn’t enough. That I would rather be a clone of someone else.

But friends, God doesn’t create clones. He creates unique masterpieces.

Paul knew the temptation to resurrect that old self. But he also knew the power of the One who was working in Him. He would not achieve full transformation in this life, but he kept pressing ahead, not looking at what was behind or in the other lane.

I want to know Christ-yes to know the power of the resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…Not that I have already attained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.

Philippians 3:10-12 NIV

To take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me. Friends, there is nothing more than this. It is perfect love, unblemished by the world. It is everything.

Today, if you’re tempted to divert from the path God has called you to and chase after someone else’s dream, look up to your Author. Look up to your Finisher.

Confess with your mouth what you’re feeling. He already knows.

Praise Him for the work He will finish in you. He’s not done yet.

And then wrap yourself in the grace of knowing that even when we lose our focus, He’s right there to pick us back up.

 

*Photo credit

*Linking up with Kelly BalarieJennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth. Come join us and be inspired.