the fatality of misplaced hope.

Isaiah 44:9-20 // “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless…The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!” They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”


Idolatry was a major problem for the Israelites. Throughout the Old Testament, they can be found repeatedly worshipping mythical gods or images, and involvement with these deities led them to engage in cult prostitution, human sacrifice, and other atrocious pagan rituals practiced by surrounding nations. A famous example is tucked in Exodus 32, where Aaron and the Israelites created a golden calf to worship (because they decided that Moses was taking too long to come down from his exchange with God in Mount Sinai). They continually chose the convenience and eroticism of worshipping counterfeit gods over the actual sacrifice that worshipping the one true God required of them.

In the passage above, the prophet Isaiah is stunned by the stupidity of idol-making. He points out that it literally involves the leftovers of ordinary human activity, being completely dependent on human hands to exist. The further irony here is that the materials of god-manufacture are created by God himself. Isaiah writes that the worshippers’ eyes are “plastered over” and their minds closed so that they cannot understand how ludicrous their idolatry is: why would God’s chosen people worship the things he has given rather than worship Him? They are bowing before scraps.

Reading this passage through Western eyes, most readers probably wouldn’t have much trouble grasping the absurdity of it. No one in their right mind would waste time drooling over statues fashioned out of raw materials. Yet, before we snicker at the Israelites, we could afford to consider that idolatry is equally present in the 21st century, though in snakelike subtly.

We, too, feed on ashes and then wonder why we’re so unfulfilled.

“We don’t have to collect all our necklaces and melt them down and give them to Aaron to make a golden calf. Anything we love to the exclusion of the Maker is a golden calf.”-Madeline L’Engle

OUCH.

idol·​a·​try // 1: the worship of a physical object as a god 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something

Tim Keller describes it as “turning good things into ultimate things.”

It is the act of exalting created things to the place of their Creator, and it has always been a heart issue stemming from disordered loves. Wherever there is a human body, there is a deceived heart within, and wherever our innate appetite leads us into fixation on something that is not God, this is idolatry. The problem did not miraculously evaporate when people lost interest in ancient gods. Idols such as scientific discovery, wealth, religious tradition and the law were simply put on the throne in their place.

In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he addresses the futility of idol falsehood (Romans 1:21-23) as a warning to the church that trouble and distress await those who do evil before the Lord. He recognizes that the deceived hearts of the idolators he is referencing were what turned them aside. Because of their idolatry, he says that God gave them over to a depraved mind. He will not tolerate divided affection.

Sin, is its essence, is any distortion of what is good. The Garden of Eden was in perfect Shalom. God created the earth in wholeness, exactly as it should be, but the bite taken in the Garden of Eden was rooted in idolatry of self, a desire to “be like God” (Genesis 3). Human greed warped his design.

& the most dangerous idol present in my life is myself. Full circle.

I’m really good at putting myself first. The truth, however, is that when I pursue only my own happiness, life quickly becomes opaque with the fog of a million sorry excuses for fulfillment that will never be God. I have to clear a lot out of the way(including myself) in order to see him in full transparency.

We all have countless idols. I know that I could go on and on if I were to list mine (comfort, financial stability, relationships, food, exercise, my schedule, physical appearance, people, even wise words of people…). Anything can become an idol if we choose to make it so.

A few questions can help us assess where we’re placing our hope. As a litmus test for where idolatry is present, ask yourself:

  • Who am I investing in?
  • How do I spend my time?
  • What do I think about the most?
  • What do I talk about the most?
  • What would shake my foundations if I were to lose it?

In Madeline L’Engle’s “Penguins and Golden Calves”, she draws the distinction between an icon and an idol. An icon, she says, “carries within it something of that at which it looks”. Icons are windows through which we can look to get a wider view of God. They should not obstruct our vision. If we look at the stars and then worship the stars, we have made them an idol, but if we look at the stars and then worship God, the stars have become an icon for us, or a glimpse of the indescribable. God speaks to us through many channels and often in striking simplicity. The key is that we attribute the praise accurately.

I know with every ounce of my being that a good and loving God exists, yet I still turn from him, just as the wandering Israelites did. HALLELUJAH that he sent his son Jesus Christ to save me in spite of my depravity. I could never muster up enough goodness in myself to live righteously. Yet, because Jesus died as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind, God calls me forgiven and offers me eternal life with him.

This is all he asks of us: our full affection, not our leftovers. He is righteously jealous for his children.

Lord, forgive me for trying to squeeze the life out of earthly things when my deepest needs are met in Christ. Help me to clear the stage and redirect my affection. You alone are enough. My soul is satisfied in you, O God.  

 

 

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the greatest liar.

This morning as I rolled out of bed and stepped into my bathroom, I immediately spotted a huge wolf spider in the corner (*cue me stretching out my fisherman-level exaggeration hands to stress that this thing was no joke*). My heart rate went wild and I’m pretty sure that I actually stopped breathing for a few seconds, but instead of picking up something to kill it with, I ran out to summon someone else to do it for me. [I’m shuddering as I type this because spiders just bother me.]

Maybe partially due to hypersensitivity, I’ve had encounters with them all day long since then. I found a tiny one on my BED before leaving the house; I brought my things into the camp cabin where I’m living for the summer to be greeted by one in the doorway; I almost walked into another dangling from a tiny thread at my head-level; I later stepped right into a giant web.

A friend recently shared that her goal for last summer was to conquer a fear head-on. For her this meant being a lifeguard because what scared her the most was drowning. As I nodded my head in admiration, my internal dialogue went something like, “Mm, good for her, that’s great.” However, as I considered my own fears (those more deep-seated than spiders) and how her challenge would translate into my life, the naturally following thought was “No, I don’t want to face it. I’m afraid of it.” In the moment, it was as simple as that. I was ready to move on to more comfortable conversation, to play with ideologies and abstractions in the safety of a cozy room filled with like-minded people. Hiding can be far too easy.

Fear is a ruthless vine that wraps around my heart, ridden by thorns like apathy, cowardice, and inactivity. It holds me captive, gripping me until I am immobilized. It chokes the life out of me.

We are slaves to the very mechanisms we use to “protect” ourselves, because the reality is that whatever we fear has a stronghold over us. Satan will jump on any opportunity to make us believe the lie that God isn’t powerful enough or else that we can overcome by our own power.

Shackles and chains.

Perhaps the sins most prevalent in my life are those of omission, choices to be cling to comfort rather than act out of obedience when I should.

James 4:17 // If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Fear can leave us glued to our respective pews on Sunday yet spiritually stagnant on Monday through Saturday.

Body of Christ, Sunday is not the main event, and church is not for our consumption but our commissioning to go out and love like Jesus.

Fellowship with the body is essential, but only a small piece of what church entails. We are to worship and break bread together and then boldly step out and declare the gospel to the ends of the earth. What really matters is how our theology moves into our hands and feet, so let’s move, church. Do something that scares you, because the Lord works immensely when we are willing to get uncomfortable and even fail at times for the sake of uplifting the body in some way.

A man’s journey of faith is never linear; The road is marked by winding turns and unpredictable barriers. We should be a dynamically serving body, willing to take risks for the kingdom and keep trusting the Lord when we don’t know what he is up to.

This doesn’t mean jumping out of a plane if you’re afraid of heights; I believe in small steps of faith every day. Put a foot forward ever so humbly in expectation that he will bring something good out of your efforts.

We weren’t given gifts and talents for our own pleasure but for his ultimate glory.

1 Corinthians 12:13-20 // Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (also see Ephesians 4:1-16)

Perhaps the place where we find ourselves most stretched is the seedbed for His redemptive work. When our weakness is highlighted, his strength looks incredibly strong.

I cannot help but wonder about the “thorn in the flesh” to which Paul referred in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. He wrote that it “tormented him” and pleaded with the Lord to take it away from him. The ambiguity of Paul’s thorn translates into a strange sense of comfort because regardless of what it was, the reality was that Paul’s life told the story of Jesus and revealed God’s power, which is “…made perfect in weakness”. We all fall short (Romans 3:23) but regardless of what thorns plague us, God is strong enough to work in the gaps in which we are weak if we will simply open our hands in surrender.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Turn your palms upward and let him take your fears. Full life awaits on the other side of them.

garden-variety wonder.

My family has taken a beach vacation every summer for as long as I can remember. At the end of each trip, I would always spend a few minutes “saying goodbye” to the beach as the sun rose and last things got packed into the car. I loved the memories wrapped up in our little getaways and leaving the magic of the sand & sea always had me literally on the verge of tears.

As I meet new people from all over the map, I’m continually intrigued by the fact that where a person grows up tends to lose its novelty in their eyes. As someone nonchalantly tells me where they’re from, I often gush, considering how wonderful it would be to live in a place like that while they shrug their shoulders at what has become commonplace to them. The wonderof the beach or mountains or plains or cityscapeis squelched by years of uninterrupted accessibility.

I don’t know that everyone would necessarily ooh & ahh as I tell them I grew up in rural Appalachia and I’ve definitely been guilty of either downplaying or criticizing it.

However, as I’ve spent some time away, I’ve been more inclined to swoon when I come home to Kentucky.

Sometimes it takes leaving and later returning to a place to really break into numbness with new gratitude and reclaim that sense of wonder.


Roots:

I am from homemade sweet iced tea and crawdads in the creek,

from the house on the hill that has always been home.

From drawn-out vowels

and words rolling off tongues with no hint of urgency.

From stringin’ green beans on the front porch swing

and hand-plucked basketfuls of blackberries.

From hide-and-go-seek at the family furniture store

and piles of snails unearthed beneath the back dock.

From fishin’ in the dark

and five “one more round”s of kick-the-can.

From carelessly bare feet

and bloody knees awarded by bikes crashed at the campground,

where we ran wild and slept on bonfire-scented hair.

From the sound of Papaw’s bluegrass guitar

and the Christmas story read from his corner chair.

From the simple gospel

and the “That’s right” and “Amen” echoing throughout weathered pews.

I swear that those hills we rolled down so euphorically must roll on for years

and everything in between them has shaped me.

I’ve grown just as the wisteria above the patio

and I smile upon the sweetness of childhood,

upon the starry rooftop skies and the world I built in my backyard.


I’m still captivated by beach sunrises & I still don’t leave the ocean without saying goodbye.

Maybe I did always believe that the grass was greener somewhere, anywhere else,

but now I know that beauty can be found wherever we choose to see it.

I’m thankful for where I’m from and where I’m headed,

but no matter where I land, the grass beneath my feet is green enough for me.

spilt milk & bottled tears.

At the beginning of this past school year, my roommate and I hung up some cheap globe string lights. We definitely jumped the gun on decorating considering that our dorm has no air conditioning and the August humidity makes it hard for anything to stay on the walls. Inevitably, a lot of the bulbs fell and shattered within a few days. We eventually gave up and just threw the whole set away, but we kept finding little shards of cheap glass in the floor throughout the year. They had somehow invaded the whoooole room.

As I pulled a trillionth shard out of a box while unpacking my stuff for the summer, I couldn’t help but consider how ridiculous it is that we didn’t just vacuum the entire floor immediately and buy a new, more sturdy set of lights to hang when the humidity settled down. Instead, we picked the pieces up one by one as we found them between August and May. The worst part was that we used a dim lamp as a light source when a set of bulbs would have made it considerably more comfortable.

I guess you could confront me about sloth (definitely part of my problem here hahaha), but I’m really getting at the fact that sometimes we make ourselves miserable by living right in the midst of our mess. When something is weighing me down, I push it aside over and over instead of taking it to God until I’m suffocating beneath its heaviness.

Don’t we all tend to medicate with movement, going & doing & chasing because we’re too afraid to stop, stoop, and clean up our deeper hurts? I live in months (or years) of messiness when I could find freedom in a few minutes of surrender. Don’t take this literally, because a simple prayer is not a guarantee for immediate healing. That would be like claiming that a homeowner can clean his or her house one thorough round and call it good for the year. The truth is that we have to keep pulling out the vacuum.

Maybe surrender isn’t just a posture of hands open to God but also dukes up to the devil (James 4:7)? This is a battle I choose to fight because I know that what He has for me is better than both my mess and the idols that serve to distract me from facing it.

Freedom and surrender are not in opposition because submission to the Lord is the ultimate freedom. Stop running and take your mess to God (and maybe even to counseling & good friends & self-care) because who wants to walk around with shards of glass in their feet??

Hiding is not conducive to healing. You are never too far from grace, so step into the light. God sent Jesus to earth in human flesh to step right into our messes, and he cares deeply about yours.

dirty dishes.

Luke 18:9-14 // Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people-cheaters, sinners, adulterers.” I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Of the two prayers, I’m afraid that mine tends to resemble that of the Pharisee more often than the tax collector.  Because “Pharisee” carries a negative connotation as read today (due to Jesus constantly calling them out in Scripture!!), I forget that they were THE most respected religious leaders of that time. But Jesus saw right through them. He called them every name in the book: “brood of vipers, whitewashed tombs, blind guides, hypocrites, fools…” The original snakes.

Brennan Manning writes in Abba’s Child, “Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists, or thugs. He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society’s most well-respected members.” The Pharisees’ dishes were clean on the outside but full of nasty residue on the inside. I am just as guilty of scrubbing my exterior self to perfection while my interior condition is anything but clean. Like the Pharisees, I want to assure myself of my own goodness. I cling to legalism and loveless obedience and believe even in times of spiritual stagnancy that I’m in the clear because—although I’m not actively working for God’s kingdom—I’m still following the rules. I’m showing up every Sunday, serving with a ministry weekly and never missing a morning devo. I’m listening to the right songs and saying all the right things. At least it looks like I’m on the right track. At least I’m not doing what they’re doing.

Many of the products on our shelves boast more about what bad ingredients are not present than what good ingredients are. Companies want us to know that our shampoo has NO sulfates, NO parabens, NO fragrances and NO dyes; our crackers are free of artificial flavoring and GMO’s and they’re even low in carbs and sodium!! We’re in the clear!!! By that standard, my heart must be in a good state just because I’m not struggling with anger,  gluttony or greed in the current season. But what about the pride and lust and idolatry and a million other offenses that appear in the ingredients on the back of the box? Stamp every health claim you’d like on the front of a chocolate bar, but it’s still a chocolate bar; The absence of a set of bad things is not assurance of wholeness. Ugh, humble me, Lord.

I should ask myself what fruit is present in my spiritual walk rather than checking off that certain offenses are not. In a world that protests everything, I want to be for something, I want to be about what matters—a pursuer of righteousness & justice—because advocacy requires far more courage than holding a picket sign.

Rather than being confident in my own righteousness, what if I walked in confidence that the blood of Jesus is powerful enough to make even me righteous?

I pray that I never become blind to my own sin because even on my best days, I’m full of it. The good news is that Jesus died so that I don’t have to live in bondage to it. God loved us enough to grant us free will, but because he sent his sinless son to die so that we might be saved, we should want to walk in obedience out of our love for him. Yet, we can never do enough or be “good enough” to earn his affection because the price has already been paid. The deal is sealed!! The Lord longs for our daily humility and repentance. All we have to do is lean into that grace which covers it ALL: no matter how far our wandering feet have taken us. He has a track record of showing how much he loves us and will be faithful again & again!!!

“God have mercy on me, a sinner!”

taking strides when we’re mapless.

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This phase of life rocks.

I’m fumbling through most things + feeling quite small + hearing a million voices from a million different directions.

I’m being met with questions of myself that I never seem to know the answers to + supposed truths from authorities which I am left to measure against biblical truth.

My GPS is broken and I’m driving through miles of fog.

BUT I’m blessed with youth + free time + sweet friendship + travel + soooo much learning.

Most of all, I’m learning that I will be  m i s e r a b l e  if I don’t master the art of laughing at myself in the humbling moments, and that I’ll be  r e s t l e s s  if I don’t choose to love where I am.

Allen Stone’s song, Where You’re At, talks about “keeping your dirt on the surface” & “loving where you’re at”, and I think that’s so relevant to this phase!!

I adore this concept of not only loving where I am but loving from where I am (like, COVERED in dirt).

I’m tired of calling it the in-between. This is not the waiting. This is LIFE, happening right now, not a someday husband or degree or job or home.

& I’m tired of talking about God’s plan for my life as if it were one right answer that I just have to land on.

I believe with my whole heart that he has planto bring fruit out of my daily obedience, wherever he has me in the present time. I want to step aside from the cookie-cutter model of what my life should look like according to the world & into the daily will of the Creator!!!

…into the discomfort, the risk, the thrill of the unknown spaces in which I have to lean completely upon Him.

I’m often so terrified of making the “wrong choice” that I don’t move at all. I wallow in what feels like constant gray & complain that my prayers aren’t being answered.

Then suddenly I’m paralyzed, sitting in spiritual limbo, waiting for a green light when all he wants me to do is take a step.

What if he’s just answering my prayers differently than I expect, and what if there are lessons and opportunities for growth that can only happen in the absence of answers??

{{ This is faith, y’all!!! }}

It means obedience in the now, even when I don’t know where I’m going and what I’m even doing. I was not created to sit in comfort with a box of answers in my lap; I am called to MOVE and ask the Spirit to lead me into spaces where I can make God known.

Bob Goff says, “We shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t understand what a God who says He surpasses all understanding is doing.” Would I really want to worship a God whom I have figured out?

Beyond the comfort of the black and white, I trust that he is God & I am not. He is always merciful and just.

“And we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” // Romans 8:28-30

This doesn’t mean that things will always be good, but that he will use difficult circumstances for ultimate good. He has predestined us for his promises. As hard as I try to make my own plans, he knows what is truly good for me better than I do.

I’ll step back and let him be God. {after all, WE are the ones who brought sin into this world: depraved abusers of freedom – far from what we should be – but STILL saved by the sweetest grace!!}

“Do the next right thing.”

Take a step forward in expectation that he will bring something good out of it. Just go somewhere, do something, and make more of Jesus.

Ben Rector (OOPS quoting another singer-songwriter) says that “life is mostly what we choose to see.”

I choose to see the pieces of beauty woven into the crevices of these ordinary days. So yeah, this phase of life rocks and so will the next one!!!

 

the threat of seeing only threat.

“It could be worse; I could be ____.”

Fill in the blank with just about anything in order to magnify another’s weakness or minimize a personal sin, because society says that it’s all relative. In spite of the individualistic proclivity of American culture, we spend a lot of time watching our neighbors, and measuring our own worth in proportion to their [public] image. The obsession with what others are up to can circle back to self in dangerous ways.

It’s like Snakes & Ladders—one-upping and climbing to the top. We’re constantly aware of where our neighbor’s piece is located on the board, checking to make sure that we’re ahead. We may even groan when they get to climb up a ladder, and celebrate when they slide down a snake. 

Silently, of course. 

We offer up pseudo congratulations through a plastic smile.

I’d like to carefully select the word envy within this conversation.

Envy refers to “an uneasy awareness of another’s advantage and a desire to possess it”. It is a state of resentment toward someone else’s well-being, arising when our eyes lock upon something that they have that we don’t.

It is sometimes accompanied by feelings of jealousy, which refers to “fear of loss of possible rights or love”. Jealousy entails the negative emotions, self-degradation, etc. surrounding this fear. It tends to occur within the context of a friendship when a third party is involved. I know too well that it can wreck relationship with one another.

But envy is the offspring of comparison, manipulated by the puppeteer sin with its dirty hand beneath all other six: Pride. 

Comparing ourselves to others breeds selfishness in one of two ways: We either place them on a pedestal and therefore think less of ourselves, or tear them down so that we might think more highly of ourselves.

Why is it that when a friend receives or accomplishes something, my first thoughts are self-centricalPride is hard at work here, because I shouldn’t even be thinking about myself in the first place. Rather than genuinely appreciating someone else’s success, I wallow in thoughts of self-degradation.

Do I measure up? 

Imagine running on the treadmill at the gym. You’re feeling confident until you look up and notice a group of girls nearby. They carry weights in hand, and their perfectly sculpted figures model the results. You start to wonder how you should change your workout routine.

Or you’re sitting at an easel in the back of a classroom. You’re content with what you painted, until you look up and scan the room. Suddenly, your canvas feels inadequate, because your peers’  look differentbetter. 

The eyes follow, and the heart wavers.

The message that I hear from others’ successes is that I am not enough. I long to be prettier, smarter, and better than them [Andy Stanley’s -ER principle]. Nothing robs me of my joy quite like this.

“And the thing about meausuring sticks, girl? Measuring sticks try to rank some people as big and some people as small — but we aren’t sizes. We are souls.  There are no better people or worse people — there are only God-made souls. There is no point trying to size people up, no point trying to compare – because souls defy measuring.” -Ann Voskamp

I think that a lot of times, our armor to comparison is the comforting reassurance that all of those picture-perfect people are actually carrying heavy baggage not shown by their polished Instagram. We’re encouraged not to compare our insides with their outsides, the core of who we are with the “highlight reel of their lives”. This is true. We all carry burdens, hurts, and weaknesses.

However, is stating that someone “isn’t that happy [interchangeable with great, successful, attractive] after all” really a healthy way to approach strengthening self-identity?

We’re all created in the image of God. Their victory is not my loss, and their loss is definitely not my victory. 

Would I ever want another person to look at me and see only flaw? To wait in anticipation for me to stumble? To seek out opportunity to rip me apart?

A classic biblical example of comparison is outlined in the story of Cain & Abel (Genesis 4). Both brothers brought an offering before the Lord, Cain’s being some of the fruits of the soil and Abel’s fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. God favored Abel’s offering, but looked down on Cain’s. Cain was greatly angered by this and his face was downcast. He then led his brother out into the field and killed him.

The jealousy that led Cain to murder his own brother was most likely the result of Abel’s favor with God, although we can’t be sure of what their conversation in the field even looked like. Three parties were involved. Cain felt that he wasn’t enough, and responded in anger.

Tearing down his brother didn’t bring him closer to God’s heart. Tearing down my brothers and sisters won’t either.

Community is shaken where comparison is present, leaving us in polarity with our neighbors. It removes the sense of us.

Why can’t we have both? You participate in my joys, and I in yours. Celebrating in friends’ victories breeds a deep kind of multiplied joy. 

Shared joys, y’all!!!

I could lay out a 3-step action plan or formula or tool of some sort to guide the process of celebrating with others, but I think that it has to be tackled at the heart-level first. Honestly, I can’t give definitive answers. Comparison is a sin that I’m constantly working through. It’s endemic in our media-saturated society and especially prevalent among the college scene, where everyone can seem to have their crap together and pressure to advance up the ladder is impending.

A first step toward authenticity in relationships: meditation on words of truth.

Philippians 2:1-4 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

For now, we can lean into the truth and pray for the Spirit to transform our way of seeing.

When looking too closely at others’ lives, we always seem to wind up nit-picking in front of the mirror. 

Let’s just step in front of it now and ask some raw questions of our hearts.

Let’s encourage one another.

Let’s walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing in burdens and joys.

Let’s be willing to learn from them.

Let’s speak the beautiful things we see in them and mean it.


http://annvoskamp.com/2013/11/how-the-hidden-dangers-of-comparison-are-killing-us-and-our-daughters-the-measuring-stick-principle/

For more reading on the topic, here’s this!!! ^