So in a moment of uncommon bravery I submitted some pieces to an online Christian magazine that I am absolutely crazy about; I encourage you to check it out because it's what's up. Unfortunately none of my submissions were chosen, but I would still like to share them with you all. Here is one . . . I hope it lifts some hearts today.
I compare myself to others a lot. If I’m being honest with myself I would have to say that it started long before acceptance letters from universities and job related insurance benefits were a priority. If I had to guess I would say that many of you compare yourselves to others a lot; I could probably even take a guess at where it all began, too – middle school. Ah, yes, the wonderful years of middle school when puberty kicks in, body parts start growing, and the boys start noticing. That’s where my relative experience with comparisons began, anyway. I was never thin enough, or tall enough, or fast enough, or tan enough, and I can assure you my hair never looked as good as everyone else’s did. It started out as a small issue that grew into an animalistic hunger – how could I tear myself down a notch in comparison to these other girls? And looking back, what made it all so much worse is that these other girls? They were my friends – I loved them, they loved me, but I was perpetually sizing myself up against them and completely disregarding the principles of genealogy and the simple fact that we are all supposed to be different.
I wish I could say that those days are gone; I wish I could say that I got right with myself and accepted my body, my hair, and all its formidable parts just as they are. But I would be lying. It just so happens that, as we grow and mature and change, so do our comparison tactics; at least mine did, anyway. While I can’t say I long ago left behind the daunting task of comparing and contrasting my body with others, I can, and will say, that my body fell down a couple notches on the totem pole of my shortcomings.
In college it was my major; my major was much too liberal in comparison with more realistic majors around me. So often, when asked what I was studying at university, I would answer quite ecstatically with, “Creative Writing!” only to be met swiftly with a look of confusion and the ever-condescending question of, “Oh, and what will you do with that?” Many a night I would come home and cry, questioning whether I made the right choice by sticking with the pursuit of a degree that fed my heart more than it might feed my literal hunger. I compared myself to every Engineering, Education, and nursing major I came into contact with – and I assure you there was no shortage of them at Wright State University.
After college it was a rainfall of comparisons – I was single and everyone around me was flashing big, diamond rings my way and having babies with quick precision. I was in three weddings in less than two years and I never had a date to one of them. I found myself looking at each of my married friends thinking, what am I doing wrong? Where am I not going in order to meet the right man?
Due to my liberal arts degree I was not quick to be hired post-graduation and once I did find a job, albeit completely challenging and fulfilling, my paychecks left, and still leave, a bit to be desired. So there I was – cashing my meager paychecks in the throes of single-dom and with a degree I wasn’t entirely using.
Shortly after accepting the job that I am still currently working at, I was invited to join a small faith community. To say this changed my life would be the greatest understatement I could ever utter in my quite verbal, over-articulated life. I was welcomed with open arms, my strength in the Lord grew by marginal leaps, and I was making friendships that I didn’t realize I was missing. But, through the joy of being surrounded by a community that was pushing me to be a better version of myself, I had lingering whispers in my heart and in my head – you aren’t as strong as these other women, you aren’t decent enough for these men, your love for Jesus is miniscule in relation to this family. I was stuck in a tidal wave of telling myself to plant roots with this community and telling myself to flee in the opposite direction from them; what could I possibly offer to this group of believers, to any non-believers that needed to hear the good news, when I was such a blatant mess?
So very much, I heard whispered in my ear gently.
Here’s the thing – in the midst of always trying to measure myself against everyone around me, God was already working in my life and on my heart. He had helped me to forge friendships with women who were living their lives as true, dedicated daughters of the King, He was giving me the opportunity to be a soft landing for students who are struggling with life altering circumstances, He was feeding me good news each morning in His word so that I could step up and be a leader for my parents and my brother. He was showing me love, showering me with grace, and sashaying me into a community of believers that would love on me when I needed it the most.
In their book, Experiencing God, Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King verbalized these sentiments much more eloquently that I could ever hope to:
Could God work in extraordinary ways through your life to accomplish significant things for His kingdom? . . . God wants you to be the person He created you to be and to letHim do through you whatever He chooses. When you believe that nothing consequential
can happen through you, you have said more about your belief in God than you have
indicated about yourself. . . . God can do anything He pleases through an ordinary
person who is fully dedicated to Him (47).
God can use me – right here, right now. And He is. He is using this broken, weak, poor, single, and defiant child of His in any way that He can to grow His Kingdom. He can use you, too – exactly as you are, in the spot you’re frozen to now. We need not compare ourselves, friends, to one another because Christ doesn’t want a gathering of clones – He desires a kaleidoscope of breathtaking differences.