Saturday, June 14, 2008

Compare To Be Confused

Oops...I know what you are thinking...typo alert! She must mean “Prepare to be Confused” or something else entirely.

Nope...I mean exactly what I wrote.

With a few extra words (okay...many extra :), I think it will come to make more least I hope that it will. For me, if not for you.

I am a lifelong, struggling daily to overcome, "comparer". What that means is that I am, by the grace of God, learning to break away from the habit of comparing myself to others. Not materialistically, no...I mean in my role as a godly how I mother, wife, make my home, home educate, grow in my spiritual walk (or stagnate, whichever the season it may be), befriend others, and on and on...

Earlier I spoke of following the example of others. I still believe in that quite strongly. The scriptures encourage us to do that in both the words of Paul, and more importantly, the instructions from our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. I also learned the blessing of reading the biographies of fellow Christians, particularly from the past. I have learned so much from the words and lives of John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Corrie and Betsy ten Boom, George Mueller, and so many other godly men and women. I encourage my children to do the same. Brianne just finished reading an extremely moving, convicting life story of the missionary John Patton. WOW! There’s so much to learn from our fellow sojourners!

That’s the point that I think Jesus and Paul were desiring to make. There is much to learn from each other. Learn, grow, mature... it’s that “iron sharpens iron” type of concept in a different way. I can learn from others, both to do or not to do :), but only as long as I keep who I am designed and desired to be (by God) in perspective.

My personality and life situation is not yours. Yours is not that of your pastor’s family. His is not that of his favorite Christian author. The author’s is not the same as his favorite godly musician. The musician’s is not the same as the co-op leader for his family’s homeschool support group. That leader’s is not the same as mine who came across my blog one day. We can all be connected, and we are, in Christ. We are a family...brothers and sisters, praise God! We are all headed on the same path and to the same Home, but each differently. My path is going to look and be different because I--my husband, my children, our world--is different from yours and others.

When I try to “fit” into my world what I see working for someone else’s, I can find it discouraging...even entangling. Also, insodoing, I may be taking over reigns of leadership that are not mine to take. Perhaps I see a result in the lives of others that I would like to see in my own. I watch, ask questions, learn what they did or did not do and try to implement the same, expecting the same. Guess what? It doesn’t happen, does it?

It can’t! I am not them and they are not me.

There are some basic godly principles that are absolutes! There is no compromising on these allowed! Following them, or not, will result in consequences that are clearly laid out in the word of God so that there is no confusion. (Although the unsaved still will be confused because God’s ways just won’t make sense, seem fair/right or be “tolerable”).

I am talking more about how our lives look as they are walked out.

Can the Christian walk look any more different than it does in America today? I mean, you have the Amish/Mennonite walk to the very “worldly looking” walk that includes becoming more like the world to entice those of the world who would not otherwise be enticed into desiring to “come check God out”. (This is just America. What about how it is walked out in Africa, China, Korea, India, etc.) Then there is quite a bit of variance in between. I’m in that “in between”.

I learn from others that I share my pathway with. I learn from those that I hear speak at a conference or on a preaching or teaching CD/DVD. I learn from those that have shared their experiences or insights in either a book or on the internet somewhere. Their take on the journey helps me, but it also sometimes hurts me.

When I see a family with just incredible kids, I want that too! I want to do, say, see, speak, involve ourselves in everything that they did or did not so that I can see the same result in my own children. I love them so much! I want the best for them and in them. So when I see it in others, I want to grab hold of that information and run.

Why? Because I know that I am such an imperfect mother, home educator and person in general. I am sure that stuck with me and my inabilities, these precious lives, these “wonders of the world” will surely fail on account of me and my failings!

Wow! Is my opinion of myself quite high...or is it, quite low? To think that I would/could make that much of a difference in what God plans to work in and of their lives and within their own personalities according to their own hearts.

God, the Holy Spirit, is just that! He is the Holy Spirit...not me. I cannot wish or do anything to make my kids turn out the way I want them to. In fact, what I want is probably so short of what God desires and has planned that I would fall out of my chair right now if He revealed even just a little of it all to me.

When we live comparing our life to others, we will be left confused!

Confused as to why it’s not working for us the way it is for them. Confused because the walk is not a comfortable fit. Confused because we don’t understand all that we are trying to do but we are doing it anyway because we want “their” result. Confused or frustrated even (read angry) that we don’t see God blessing us in all our efforts. Confused by the overwhelming sense of failure to keep up. Overwhelmed by the confusion of all the different paths, choices, walks and not sure in which one “we/I” am supposed to take.

“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

A yahoo group that I am on with some wonderful, godly women is discussing homeschool curriculum right now. What they are using and doing in their homes. This is an area that I really struggle with, in case you were wondering. :) There is so much stuff out there, that the choices can just be too much. And then when you listen to someone go on and on who is passionate about why it is the BEST choice (case in point as to why I am not at the homeschool convention in town today :) really that it is the ONLY choice for MY homeschool...well, I am either convicted to buy or feel like a lousy mom if I don’t—short changing those precious lambs of mine because I don’t have the time it takes to put it all together or the money to pay for the darn thing to begin with!

Of course, that is just one example, but I know that it is easy for ALL of us to come up with several of our own that are just as real.

Just for humilities sake, here are some of my others...

“I wish I fed my family in a healthier manner. I wish that I could buy all organic food.” (Tried that for awhile until I had our grocery budget over $800 in the hole!)

“I wish that I was more creative. My children would be more motivated if I just had one artistic bone in my body.”

“That family is AMAZING! If I read what they wrote...listen to what they what they use in their home...surely, our family will turn out great!”

“She has it SO together! I am such a clutter bug in my brain. Why can’t I departmentalize my responsibilities better so that I don’t always feel “off kilter” or overwhelmed?

“I wish I had the trust/faith of so and so. They must have an amazing spiritual life!”

“She articulates so well. I wish that I was always able to put into words the thoughts or convictions in my heart. I do pretty okay on paper (or computer screen) but when I am in a conversation with others, no one is going to wait for me to stop and write down my thoughts."

“I am so lazy! I know that I could get even more done in a day if I just tried harder. That gal has more to get done than I do and seems so “on top” of her world.”

Well, obviously, that is just a small sample, but you get the idea...

The point is I am who I am. God asks me (that “me” that I am) to follow after HIM. To learn from Him. To seek after Him. To ask my questions on how to do such and so from Him. Not from others. Seeking after the advice of others should be secondary and to reinforce the direction I sense He is leading me to. Not my taking the reigns in trying to follow after someone else’s direction from God and trying to make it my own. Their way is for them, not necessarily for me. Besides, I don’t know their true heart, their life in their home. Maybe that way isn’t working so great after all.

“The naïve believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.”
Proverbs 14:15

I want my “steps” to be following after Jesus, not the success that I see in others.

We are to encourage, edify and correct one another...yes! But most of all, we are to seek God with our all and His direction for our lives.

“Teach me Thy way, O Lord. I will walk in Thy truth.” Psalm 86:11

I do learn a lot from others. I do follow after some of the godly steps that others have taken before me. I do buy some of the materials that I see used by godly families for use in my own. I do print off and try out new, healthier recipes. I do ponder the wise words and actions of godly men and women and try to ask God what I can learn as a result. I do feel encouraged, challenged even, to passionately persevere in my spiritual walk because of the example of others.

But I am finally at a place, by the grace of God, that I am done comparing myself and my life’s choices to those that others are making. I am ready to be completely satisfied with the truth that God is my all and all. He is ALL that I need and the only one that I need seek when looking for what direction I need to take in an area concerning me.

“Do the will of God from the Heart.” Ephesians 6:6b

That’s what I want right there! That’s what I want to teach my children. That is what I want others to see when they look at me. Not someone to compare themselves to (whether they think I do things better or make themselves feel better when they see that I don’t do as well as they—it goes both ways, doesn’t it!) but someone who they can say they witnessed “doing the will of God (as He directed her) from the heart”.

Oh God, I pray that it would be so...Amen!

“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (This includes direction) Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:3-5, 7