“In the south you dress right. Their customs run deeeeep, and you don’t mess with them…I was headed to a region where I once overhead this dialogue:
‘So, are you a Christian?’ ‘No, I’m a Southern Baptist.’
I wore my Haiti T-shirt on Friday night, and…my first sentence was a description of 7 with a What-was-I-supposed-to-do? reference to my outfit. I couldn’t help it. Okay, I could help it, but I had a social compulsion to defend myself, utterly vain and reminiscent of middle school.
Blame it on the Deep South. Blame it on my need for approval.
I blamed it on ‘respect for my audience,’ but that may or may not be genuine…But just as quickly as the insecurity wave crested, it receded, because we opened up God’s Word and let it speak.”
As Jen Hatmaker recounted this experience in 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I thought of the times in my life when I felt compelled to explain myself. Jen was speaking at a women’s ministry event in Atlanta, and because she committed to wearing only 7 items of clothing for the entire month, she had few choices about what to wear for a two-day speaking engagement.
Feeling underdressed when she took the stage, she began explaining why she was dressed in such a way; she had a “compulsion to defend” herself.
My decisions, my opinions, my past, my future, my purchases, my [insert just about anything here]…I feel as if I need to explain. And while I only feel compelled to explain to people I care about (usually), I still feel as if I have to answer to …everyone.
For example, I am in the process of moving. My husband and I feel this is God’s will for our family and our finances. The process so far has been super easy. Our house sold in two weeks; we bought the only house we looked at for a low, low price. See? Explaining.
Why do I/we feel compelled to explain? Justify? I used to think that justification only came when we thought we were wrong or sorta wrong.
I don’t believe that anymore.
We can fully believe we are absolutely correct, but still justify and rationalize our decisions to others.
Moving, homeschooling, quitting my job, training for a half marathon, blogging, volunteering at my church and on and on. My explanations play like a broken record in my head.
Why? Comparison and need for approval. When I compare myself to others, I then feel compelled to defend how and why my choices are different from or better than theirs because I need their approval. Sigh…..
God has been revealing my penchant for comparing myself to others for a few months…ok, maybe a few years, but I was an unwilling participant until a few months ago. My self-thought goes something like this, “I’d love to ______, but I could never do _______ as well as my friend, ________. So I won’t try/volunteer.”
I compare myself to others too much. And, in each case, I come up woefully short or awesomely above. Neither is healthy or Godly.
There’s no win in comparison …ever. (I stole this line from Andy Stanley’s sermon series The Comparison Trap. I encourage you to listen to the series if you struggle with comparison- i.e. everyone.)
How do we get over and past the comparison trap? Take a page from Jen’s book:
“But just as quickly as the insecurity wave crested, it receded, because we opened up God’s Word and let it speak.”
Let God’s speak:
Ephesians 3:16-19: 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Romans 8: 38-39 says 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He loves me – just as I am – widely and deeply. I am who He made me to be. I don’t need to be anyone else. He empowers me with the inner strength I need to resist sin through his Spirit. Nothing can separate me from His love.
“The average human gets around twenty-five thousand days on this earth, and most of us in the United States of America will get a few more. That’s it. This life is a breath. Heaven is coming fast, and we live in that thin space where faith and obedience have relevance. We have this one life to offer; there is not second chance, no Plan B for the good news. We get one shot at living to expand the kingdom, fighting for justice. We’ll stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us. We’ll have one moment to say, ‘This is how I lived.’ More than 13,000 of those days are over for me.”
Me too. 13,233 days to be exact. At least half my life is gone.
Do I really want to live the remaining day or 13,000 days comparing myself to anyone except Jesus? Worrying about what I wear? From what store is comes? And all that shallow garbage?
What a waste that would be.
As millions around the world go without basic necessities, I am busy saving for Buckle jeans because K-mart ones aren’t good enough?
Are you caught in the comparison trap too? Even just a little? I am praying that you break free. He has so much more for each of us.