A few weeks ago, Lisa Bevere reposted something on Instagram that I cannot stop thinking about. One of those moments where you think someone you don’t even know may be reading your mind.
See, in looking over the past year and all the change that had taken place in my life, physically and spiritually, I had been trying to “sum up”, so to speak, what I was feeling to my husband and, maybe, to myself. So, here it is…
“2018 taught me to stop aspiring to sit at tables where I have to bring my own chair, squeeze in between folks, and repeatedly convince others why I should be there. I learned to build a new table. I hope you learned the same.”
I can’t recall my actual words when I read this statement, but it was probably something that I shouldn’t repeat in a blog post. I would really love to tell you that I said something super spiritual like “Amen” but it was probably more like “Holy Crap” or, maybe, worse. But, after my poor word choice, I’m pretty sure I said, “That’s it. That’s exactly it.”
I feel like I’ve been caught in a time warp that I’ve actually gone through many times in my years as a woman. It starts in middle school, probably, and I guess never really goes away. It’s that thing that we women just do. No one has to teach us. We don’t need a class or a seminar. We just know how…we know how to compare.
I guess men go through it too but, for some reason, women really, really get caught up in this horrible, dangerous ritual.
It’s a constant game of who’s who.
Things…houses, cars, clothing.
Bodies…waist size, hair color, boobs.
Marriage…none, one, many.
Children…none, one, many.
Then, there is this whole trap that the mother’s create about the behavior of the children. I mean, what really bothers you when your children misbehave in public? Is it really their behavior or how you think you are being judged by everyone else? Ouch, I know!
And, to make matters worse, we have social media which is like adding gasoline to the fire for the comparison game. I mean, how many times have you tidied up your living room or made your children move to the cleaner part of the house before you took that precious photo to post online? I’m guilty.
Or, how many times have you had a crappy day and gotten on social media and looked at everyone else’s highlight reel? Comparing your crappy day makes you feel what? Like you’re losing – it makes you feel like you’re losing.
Why? Because, we have created a game out of life. Literally. Have you ever played the game of “Life” – the board game? Well, I have a few times lately because my son loves it. And, you know what? That game sucks…it really sucks. I mean, it’s fun when you’re playing a nine-year-old but, I have to tell you it hits a little too close to home sometimes. It’s you against the bank and all the other players just trying to survive and “win” the most money and the most things.
Now, I know by now you’re probably a little concerned about me because I appear really mad at someone or something. Believe me, that’s not the case. It’s just that, recently, I realized again, as I have so many times in my life, that this game that we play every where we go – work, school, the grocery store, daycare drop-off, online and even church – is absolutely stealing our joy, as Theodore Roosevelt meant when he so eloquently said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” But y’all, this game is also stealing our happiness, our contentment, our finances, our moments and, ultimately, costing us the life that we were meant to live.
John said, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). And, although I realize that our enemy tries to destroy us in many ways, this comparison game has to be a favorite. See, the enemy – he has one desire. Go back and read it again. John said that he “only” comes to “steal and kill and destroy”. That’s it. He has one desire and, my friends, he knows that if you’re looking at someone else, you’ve lost your purpose. You’re distracted. And, if you can’t already tell, this makes me furious. Why? Because I’ve lived far too much of my life this way. I’ve lost too many moments and wasted too much time. This comparison game has cost me too much.
Recently, I was listening to a sermon by Annie F. Downs – I love just love her – and she was preaching about the woman with the issue of blood. This story is told in Matthew 9, Mark 5 and Luke 8 and I’ll just paraphrase if you don’t mind. See, there was this woman who had some sort of bleeding problem. Now, we don’t know exactly why she was bleeding but I’ll just tell ya that my nurse practitioner brain has lots of possible diagnoses. Anyway, she had been bleeding for twelve years…twelve. Again, holy crap!
Mark says that she had “suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and spent all she had” (Mark 5:26). And, to make matters worse, in those days “bleeding” meant unclean (Leviticus 15). So, for twelve years this woman was unclean. This dictated everything for her and, basically, meant that she had to avoid all that was holy including places of worship, people, foods, etc. So, not only was she sick, miserable and likely afraid that she was going to die, she was a social outcast, too.
The comparison game? There is no comparison here. She was the bottom of the barrel.
But, she heard about Jesus and that he was in town. She believed he could heal her and that was all that mattered. So much so that she didn’t care if she shouldn’t be there. She didn’t care if she was unclean. The enemy had stolen too much from her and she was over it. She needed healing and she knew the One who could heal her. So, she pushed her way through the crowd, touched his clothes and was immediately healed.
Now, Jesus stopped and asked who touched him. And, here’s the thing that gets me. She reveals herself to him and he says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).
What gets me in that passage is “daughter”. He called her daughter. He didn’t call her unclean woman or outcast, which she was. He called her daughter. See, Jesus doesn’t look at us like everyone else. He sees who we are in Him and who we can become. And y’all, that changes everything.
See, in John 10:10, Jesus is actually the one speaking. He acknowledges that the enemy comes to steal but then says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full”. Jesus comes to give you a life with purpose. His purpose for you. Not for anyone else, for you. There is a purpose, daughter, for you. Holy crap!
When we begin to see ourselves as Jesus sees us, we don’t have to show our highlight reel or tidy anything up. When we begin to believe that we are a daughter of the King, who cares about the game? Y’all, I’m talking to you and to me. Stop trying to sit at tables where you have to bring your own chair and convince others that you belong. Stop looking to others for approval. Turn off the social media if you have to. Unfollow or mute people who make you feel less-than. Stop letting the enemy steal your life and look to the One who calls you daughter.
Original quote by @healtherllove
***Image by sketchup.com