Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fear of Man

I do pretty well in this regard. After all... well, my blog speaks to how I dare live. :)

But sometimes I *do* have those moments.. Moments where I'm not comparing myself with what God has called me to, but with others. I was clicking through facebook (first mistake, I know) to a family I lived by when I was very young. I was friends with the oldest girl, and we used to play together all the time. She had 2 younger brothers, which we were fond of 'tricking' into play. We would play monopoly with them, and laugh hysterically as we "made change" with the play money, as they mistakenly thought they were getting more money. On a few occasions we convinced them to let us dress them in dresses, complete with makeup and hair accessories. Their dad put a stop to that, however. Their baby sister was the first newborn I ever remember laying eyes on. We were next-door neighbors, and we seemed on even ground back then. :) Of course that wasn't completely true; her mom had a career on hold while she raised her kids, her dad was a lawyer that served in the state legislature. My mom was a handicapped divorcĂ©e who moved with her 2 kids into her grandma's home.

Her parents still live in the (nicely remodeled) home, and my great-aunt still gets rent payments from the next-door address. But that's about it, for similarities...

Today my friend is mom to two little boys, works full-time in the public education system after getting her post-graduate degree(s?) in California. The boys we used to dress up like girls? Working in DC and running a business in another major metropolitan area. The newborn is now a 6'3" college graduate who just moved to Australia...

...And me? Um, I kill chickens. Yes, that is the thought that comes to mind when I compare myself to everyone else's accomplishments. :)

I need to remember (and I do most times) that I don't live this life thoughtlessly. I am purposefully living as best I can, the life I'm convinced I will not regret 50 years from now. We all pour ourselves out for something, and if it's for self, well, that dies with us. God, home, family, children; these things will last beyond ourselves, and I pray my efforts in these areas will produce and re-produce after I'm gone. I do not mean to imply that the family I mentioned above is in any way inferior to this: Indeed, I have no idea of their lives beyond that shallow "facebook profile" and would not presume to know anything more.

My mom used to quote some scripture to me: "They who compare themselves with themselves are not wise." Huh? That never made any sense to me. Of COURSE if you compare yourself with yourself, you're a little weird. But I came to understand that we are talking of groups here. We are not wise to compare our fallen human self to another fallen human. Looking at that mom with a cleaner house, or more consistent discipline, or more time to minister, or salon-cut hair... that's just not wise. It doesn't add to us, it doesn't edify. We either come away from the comparison thinking, "Yep, *I*'ve got it together more than her! Good thing I'm so holy..." OR (which is probably much more common) "Why can't I do it the way she does? What did I do wrong to miss out on that kind of opportunity?" THAT doesn't do anything for us, either.

What then do we do?

We compare to God, and His plan. We never come away from that thinking "Good thing I'm so holy.." We align with what He's called us to, and realize that is the only opportunity that matters.  We keep our eyes on God, and He can work out whether he wants us publishing research in a respectable scientific journal, or feeding a group of children decent meals every day. It's not the research, nor the feeding, that matter ultimately, but whether we are doing that which God has called us to.

I am going to try to remember this, to hide it in my heart for when I run into facebook profiles, for family reunions, and especially holiday newsletter time... :)

4 comments:

Rachel Le said...

*applause*

I love this: "It's not the research, nor the feeding, that matter ultimately, but whether we are doing that which God has called us to."

It's so easy to compare our lives with others' and either tear ourselves down or talk ourselves up based on what we see. I haven't learned how NOT to do that yet, but I sure hope I can.

I just started a study with a group of women on the book "Calm my anxious heart," and what you wrote reminded me of a couple things from the first chapter. About comparing ourselves to others and picturing ourselves in other circumstances and how that distracts us from God's perspective.

Anyway, thanks for the great post- I love it when things in life tie together :)

Jenny said...

Thank you for this post. A timely reminder for me. And thank you for using the phrase "salon cut hair". That's one area where I fall. Remember Aesop's sour grapes? I am the fox and the salon cut hair is the grapes.

Fletch said...

It has been a while since I checked in here and I am glad that I did.
Around Mangoland, when we find ourselves comparing or seeking to find our worth, our value, our acceptance, or our security in anything but Jesus, we remind one another that we have a case of "Gospel Amnesia." (http://www.themangotimes.com/themt/2011/5/4/themtpodcast-gospel-amnesia.html).

We "gospelize" ourselves daily as a reminder that our identity is secure in Christ, but it is a daily thing.

EllaJac said...

Thank you Fletch! I appreciate your visit, and your link. I'll be clicking through.. :)