[Reflection] Thieving

My heart broke as I sat across the room witnessing my friend’s joy drain from her face. Conversation was flowing back and forth from person to person while she surveyed the room, measuring herself next to the people around her. I understood the pain she experienced. After all, until a few weeks ago I moved through life with the same tendency to weigh my gifts against the people around me.

It all started with the ending of a relationship. There wasn’t a big fight, it just ended. Since nothing technically “went wrong,” that must’ve meant there was something wrong with me, right? I guess I wasn’t tall enough, athletic enough, beautiful enough, thin enough, or godly enough. The list goes on and on.

Hi, I’m Meredith and for two and half years I’ve battled with comparison and it’s stolen my joy.

Sure, to the people who know me best I was still my quirky self, but exposed to the rest of the world I hid so much of who I was designed to be. I don’t watch much television (my cable is currently broken), rarely listen to the radio, laugh like Elmo, am taller than the average human, haven’t worn a Size 0 in a decade (and most likely never will), am a nerd, enjoy nerf gun battles, have a natural sway when listening to music, and so many other things that many people wouldn’t consider normal or attractive. I’ve resented many of those qualities for so long. Maybe if I knew what happened on the latest episode of The Bachelor, if I dropped 10 pounds, or if I didn’t laugh as awkwardly, she would want to be my friend or he would want to ask me on a date.

I’m here to tell you that all of those thoughts were lies straight from the pits of Hell, and so are the ones you’re contemplating right now.

I’ve known for a while that comparison owned me, but I didn’t want to enter back into pain where it started and I certainly didn’t want to tell anyone how I felt. I fell right into Satan’s trap. For over two years comparison kept me from growing closer to my Maker. For over two years I rejected the person God handcrafted me to be. For over two years I suppressed some of the very characteristics of God that He chose to manifest in me. That’s sin-full, y’all! In the words of one of my closest friends, Satan is a heifer!

The day I confessed my comparison struggle to a friend was the day freedom flooded my heart. Ask some of my running buddies (who still says that?! I guess I do…). I’m sure they’ll be happy to tell you all about my worship jazzercising. And guess what? I’ll let them without being ashamed. Why? Because I LOVE the joyful spirit the Lord’s manifested in me. In an earlier post, I claimed love as my resolution for 2014, but I’ve realized I can’t love the God who created me, much less others, without first loving the person God has made me. Talk about conviction. The Spirit pierced my tainted heart with Truth.

Comparison

Comparison is the thief of joy, and frankly it’s stupid. Here’s why:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

-1 Corinthians 12:4-20

 How well would the body work if everyone was a foot? Yes, we could get places, but we wouldn’t be able to see where we were headed. Knowing how clumsy my feet are, I’m certain that wouldn’t work out very well for God’s kingdom. I’m convinced that’s why God arranged the members in the body, each of them as he chose, knowing best how they would be used for His glory.

Don’t let comparison steal your joy. You aren’t lacking anything. You’ve been given everything you need to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. Don’t let Satan win by making you believe God has shorted you. The Lord’s too good to leave any of us lacking gifts we need to grow His kingdom. Just because your gifts are different than the person’s next to you doesn’t make you inadequate. Chunk those lies straight back into the pit they came from.

Advertisements

Life to the Fullest

I know it’s old news, but I’m obsessed with Kid President. His optimism inspires me and his message is powerful (not to mention he may be one of the cutest kids ever). We can learn a lot from his pep talk about what God expects of us while we’re spending time in this temporary home. So often we get caught up in the negative things happening during the day and forget that we are like mist that appears for a while and then vanishes (James 4:14). Even on the worst days our hearts are beating and air is filling our lungs. These two truths are a gift because none of us deserve another heartbeat or breath. I deserve the death Jesus died. I deserve the beatings, the nails, the pierced side, but He took the pain for me and for YOU. That Truth should change the way you look at life when you wake up in the morning. Someone died for YOU so that you can live the fullest life!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. -Jesus

I’d like to challenge you to look at the glass half full and live a life of freedom that is found only in Christ. Laugh until it hurts, dance like no one’s watching, play a part in making someone’s day a little bit better by making them smile, and live in a way that makes people wonder why you are always joyful. Whatever you are doing, do it enthusiastically as something done for the Lord and not for man (Colossians 3:23). Let Christ be your motivation to stay positive. Let every breath and heartbeat be a reminder of a future you will be spending in Heaven. Christ died, so that you could live. Do something about it!

This is life people. You got air coming from your nose!  You got a heartbeat. That means it’s time to do something!

What Christmas Really Means

As we celebrate Christmas, I thought I’d share a story that my mom’s best friend shared with her. We get caught up in gift giving, decorating, and cooking and it can be easy to forget why we are celebrating – God made flesh through the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Enjoy!

Just last Christmas Eve I had a strange visitor. This is how it happened;

I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, I saw Santa Claus himself stepping out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his lips so I wouldn’t cry out.

“What are you doing here…” I started to ask, but the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know. As I stood there in my robe bewildered, Santa said, “We’ve done it all wrong. You need to teach the children.” My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness.

Fumbling in his sack, he drew forth a bright shining gold star.

“Teach them the old meaning of Christmas – the meanings that Christmas nowadays has forgotten. Teach the children that the star was a heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a Savior for the world and a sign of the fulfillment of that promise was the great Star of the East. The star now reminds us of God’s love for mankind and of God fulfilling His promise. The countless shining stars at night now show the burning hope of all mankind.

Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a glittering red Christmas ornament.

“Teach the children, red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior. Jesus Christ gave his life and shed his blood that every man might have God’s gift to all, eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.”

As Santa was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. I wanted to say something, but he went right on.

“Teach the children,” he said as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament on the Christmas tree. The deep green of the fir tree was perfect background for the ornament. Here was the second color of Christmas. “The pure color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round,” he said. “This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind, and the everlasting life we can only get through His Son. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward – symbolic of man’s need to focus on heaven. The tree itself is a symbol of that other tree, the one that became a cross. The great, green tree has been one of man’s best friends. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him, formed his furniture.”

Santa’s eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago.

“Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found by the sounds of the bell, so should it ring for men to return to the fold; it means guidance and return to God; it further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. He left the 99 and went in search of the one.”

As the soft sound of the bell faced into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast an eerie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in the shadow slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.

“Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “that the candle shows man’s thanks for the star of long ago. It signifies the Light that shines within all God’s people. A light that should never be hidden. It’s flame seems very weak, but it chases away the darkness, just as the starts do. It’s small light is the mirror of starlight. At first candles were placed on the Christmas Tree – they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. Safety now has removed the candles from the tree and the colored lights have taken over in remembrance.”

Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large bow ribbon and said, “Teach the children. A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as me should be tied – all of us together, with the bonds of good will and love toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow.”

Now I wondered what else Santa had in his bag, Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over his shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. I thought he was hungry as he reached for a candy cane, purposely placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it.

“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep to the fold. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmastime. The candy is the symbol that we are our brother’s keeper. The red represents the Blood of Salvation, and the white the Purity that only comes from it’s cleansing flow.

Santa them paused. He seemed to realize her should be on his way. Later would be his big day. As he looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction and relief showed in his face. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it on the fireplace and said, “Please teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of God’s love; it never ceases, stops or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors, It reminds us all of the things of Christmas. Please teach the children.”

As I gazed at the wreath, he slipped away, his job done…pointing people back to the real meaning behind this celebration.

I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight, as I saw and viewed all those symbols that night. I dozed as I sat in the soft candlelight, and my thoughts were of Jesus and all He made right. To give and to help, to love and to serve, are the best things of life, all men can deserve. Old Santa Claus that jolly fat little elf, is not the best symbol of Christmas itself. Jesus gave us the gift of love and of life, the ending of evil the ceasing of strife. Santa’s message to me on the pre-Christmas night, has opened a treasure of deepest insight. The one thing on earth we all ought to do, is the teaching of children the right and the true.

Merry Christmas! God Bless!

Pain is Temporary, Eternity is FOREVER!

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” -James 1:2-4

Jump-training. We have a love/hate relationship. I despise it in the moment, but I love the results that come from the pain of jumping what seems to be a million times over the course of six weeks. In the end, the 45-minute jump workout, three times a week, gets me in tip top form for volleyball season. The pain is temporary, but the results get me through the entire season.

During the first day of jump-training it hit me that I also have a love/hate relationship with spiritual trials. If I’m honest, in the moment I despise the trial. The stretching is painful, filled with tears, and often results in change. It often reveals and makes me admit my biggest flaws and deepest fears. Who really wants to lay down their pride and admit their failures? Not this girl!

As Christ followers, these trials are necessary and during them we are called to be different. As seen in James, we are called to be joyful during trying seasons because we know we are maturing in our faith so that one day (in Heaven) we will reach perfection. Sometimes, this is a tough pill to swallow, but we find strength in knowing our joy isn’t found in our trying circumstances. Our joy comes for our Christ. Looking back on the trials I’ve faced and overcome with the help of Christ, I’ve matured greatly to who I am today. There is still a lot of maturing left, but I can approach whatever trials that are to come knowing that pain is temporary, eternity is forever!

Don’t get lost in your circumstances, get lost in the love of your Savior who died so you could live!

Grace and Peace,

Meredith