I remember standing in a new Chick Fil A after having just moved, having a new baby in a new state and now just experiencing my first mid-west winter. My kids were happily playing in the play place - and by playing, I mean licking the glass windows while I tried to guzzle down some coffee. I heard the sweetest southern accent and turned to see the most lovely mom, holding the most peaceful newborn watching her adorably dressed and preciously obedient children (who were not licking the windows, might I add), playing kindly together in the play place. They even said “yes ma’am” back to her. I was immediately drawn to her but then, as we so often do, I started comparing. Measuring myself up to her. I scanned her, you know, tried to see where I fit in. She was dressed quite cuter than me, her tone was far kinder than mine. Her children most well behaved. Her baby wasn’t fussing, and she exuded a beautiful peace as she sat there lovingly watching her babies. And to top it off, at the end of standing in the Chick Fil A making small talk she handed me her phone number telling me God had laid it on her heart to give it to me. WHAT WAS I EVEN DOING WITH MY LIFE to deserve such a kind gesture?! I felt so small yet so known. I could have gone down the rabbit trail of insecurity and self absorption. But oh, I am so thankful I didn’t miss out on the beauty and treasure of a friend this woman would become once I was able to get over myself.
We do this sometimes, don’t we? Or maybe we used to. Some of us are still working on it. We compare. We measure ourselves against others.… against some standard we’ve decided as acceptable. Do they do as well as me? And I as them? Am I enough? Am I better? Or am I less than?
Oh my word, sisters…do we see the flaw in this? And what exactly is our goal here? Are we only willing to be friends with those esteem us or see us as superior? Are we hoping to walk into a scenario, room, or down a hallway being the best or most of something?
There is a mighty powerful phrase going around, and has been for some time. “Comparison living is the thief of all joy.” Or, I’d go further to say it is the thief of everything.
So then, the proposed flip side is to be thankful; content with what we’ve been given. Look at what we DO have. Look at what God HAS given us. And that is good and right and true.
But I might propose we are looking at the entirely wrong everything.
There is one standard, and His name is Jesus.
He is hope.
He is life.
He is abundant.
He is …everything.
And sweet friends, there is no size that matters to him. No outfit. No organization method or personality type. He does not care what time you get up in the morning, or how well your beds are made. He is not entirely concerned with your method of homeschooling or whether or not you have got it all together (three cheers for the struggle bus!).
There are two scriptures that have ministered to my heart tremendously over the five years of knowing my most precious Chick Fil A friend, who is truly like a sister to me now. The first is from Leviticus 19:2 “Be Holy, as I am Holy.”
Holiness. There is our mark. Holiness is the aim and standard. Always. Not what we are good at and others are not; not what others are good at and we are not. Be Holy, says God.
The next verse from Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
Don’t you see, the pressure is off! Our workout guide, our meal plan, our family pictures and adorable Christmas card… oh dear ones, that’s not our goal! Our Goal is to imitate Christ.
Our mission is to imitate whatever is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Our goal is to clothe ourselves in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. Do you know what is beautiful? A home decorated with the gift of peace. Do you know what brings loveliness into a room? A heart that is overflowing with the grace of God.
I wonder what might happen if we took our eyes off not just our neighbors to the left and right, but also off of ourselves and all that we have. I don’t think the answer to contentment is being thankful for what we have. I think the answer to contentment is Jesus Christ, who lived and died and was resurrected, on our behalf so that we might have FULLNESS OF JOY in HIM ALONE. Nothing else. I wonder, if our eyes were truly transfixed on the goodness and mightiness of the living God, just how content our lives would be. We would be free to walk into a room and champion the daylights out of every woman standing! We would walk into a new class and thank GOD for the breath in our lungs to do so! We would not cower behind our own insecurities, or awkwardly puff up in our pride. No, we would delight in the day the Lord has made, we would delight in our Creator God, which would thus enable us to delight in every human the Lord brings our way.
I sing this hymn often to my babies at night. There’s no deeper truth, I don’t believe, than the truth that comes with looking into the eyes and heart of Jesus Christ - for He is light and life.
Oh soul are you weary and troubled,
No light in the darkness you see,
There’s life for a look at the Savior,
A life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.