Avoiding the Comparison Trap

I’m learning to avoid the comparison trap.

 

I am still adjusting to this stay-at-home-mom gig. This wasn’t part of my plan. Nor was the unexpected illness that put me here. It’s been thirty-four months and eleven days since I was medically forced to walk away from my career as a pharmacist. One would think by now, I would be adjusted to my new role, but I still struggle.

Finding contentment in this new realm is my struggle.

This summer, my neighbor had her backyard excavated to make way for an in-ground pool. Meanwhile, God excavated my heart to make room for contentment.

Per instructions by Priscilla Shirer in her book, The Resolution for Women, I scribed these words on an index card and attached it to the front of my fridge.

In my desire to find contentment, I began with a simple prayer: “Lord whatever my hands find to do today, may you look upon your servant and find me faithful. Amen.” 

Later, I simplified this to a four-sentence prayer: “Lord, find me faithful.”

This prayer is based on these verses in the Old and New Testament:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

When I pray, “Lord find me faithful,” it helps me put on spiritual blinders. Keeping the simple prayer on the forefront of my mind repels my desire for comparison to others. It allows me to remain faithful in my role, where I am, and with what God has provided for me.

The death of contentment is comparison.

Steven Furtick

Pastor , Elevation Church

During God’s summer excavation of my heart, He showed me two passages in the Bible where the main characters felt unequipped and unqualified in their role because they were comparing themselves to those around them.

Gideon the weakest in his clan hid from the enemy. God finds him, calls him a “valiant warrior” and tells him to fight the enemy. “Go in the strength that you have.” (Judges 6:12, 14). Reluctantly obedient, Gideon and his motley crew of a few defeat the enemy in an unexpected way.

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, we meet an unnamed woman who is a recent widow. Left with debts she cannot repay, the debt collectors threatened to take away her two sons. Desperate, she pleads to the prophet Elisha for help. Instead of helping, he asks, “What’s in your house?” She confesses to having only a little oil. Elisha instructs her to gather as many jars as she can from the neighbors. (Can you imagine the humility of having to ask the neighbors for help?) Elisha blessed what little oil she had and the oil miraculously continued to pour until all the jars were full. She was able to pay off all her debt and keep her sons.

What’s in your house?

How can you go in the strength you have to bless others?

In my realm of a stay-at-home-mom, I have the margin of time and rest in my day. This week, God found me faithful packing lunches for my friend and me. In my house, I already had all the fixings for Meg’s favorite snacks and lunch. Going in the strength I had, God found me faithful as I drove my friend to her chemotherapy infusion. We enjoyed our day together as we laughed, cupped mugs of piping hot Starbucks, and shared stories of God’s faithfulness.

Reflecting on the stories of Gideon and the widow woman, ask yourself:

How can you use what you already have to bless others?

What is God calling you to do?

~April Dawn White ©2018

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Dear Mother Who Puts Herself Last: Guest Writer Angela Jamison

I see you in the grocery store, hurrying along at 9 pm. I can imagine the thoughts running through your head from how you just want to be in bed to how badly your feet hurt because you’re not sure if you’ve sat down all day.

I see you in the doctor’s office massaging your temples, wondering if this headache will ever go away. Wondering if uninterrupted sleep will ever be something you get again.

I see you in the restaurant, trying to enjoy the beauty of not having to cook or clean up, but worried about the mess nonetheless.

I see you. I am you.

I, too, am a mother who puts herself last.

Although it was my deepest desire to be a mother, I didn’t anticipate losing myself in the process. I didn’t anticipate some of my favorite things becoming foreign or dreams disappearing with diapers.

I had no idea my deepest wish would be my greatest joy and my hardest trial in equal parts.

I bet you had no idea either.

I’d imagine your children are your world, the most important piece of your existence, but let me let you in on a powerful truth … you’re important too!

We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. When you take care of you, you’re teaching a far more powerful lessons than when you run yourself to empty.

We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. Click To Tweet

Those dreams that disappeared with the diapers, rekindle them. Your children need to see you have a passion and work toward it. Some of the best encouragement in the world comes from children! Allow them to enrich the path to your dreams instead of being a roadblock.

That nap you skipped because there were bottles to wash, laundry to fold and floors to vacuum, take it next time. Your health is imperative to healthy kids. When you are healthy, you are happier and when you are happier, your children are happier. Take the rest and allow your children to see you slow down. In a “go go go” world, our children need to know it’s ok to take a break.

Putting yourself last seems to be in the unwritten motherhood handbook. I’m tearing that page out and so should you! Our children may be our world, but the more powerful truth is – we are theirs.

Take care of your children’s world, you, by moving up in line. As mothers, we’ll never be good at putting ourselves first, but we can happily fall somewhere in the middle.

We are more important than being last.

Sincerely,

A Mother Moving Up in Line

Angela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the director of a Christian preschool. After struggling with infertility, she and her husband entered the world of foster care where they have been overwhelmed exploring the path laid before them by the most perfect Father. When she is not entertaining children, Angela loves to read, write, and connect with mothers and parents to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on earth. To learn more about Angela, visit her webpage at http://www.angelajamison.com or follow her on Twitter, @AngJamison04.

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles: Guest Post by Amy Ahrens

I am honored to introduce you to my friend, Amy. When she shared this principle with me, I asked her to share it for Red Chair Moments. Enjoy! ~April

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles

by Amy Ahrens

Recently, I pulled on a sleeveless dress to wear. Observing myself in the mirror, I realized I needed to start working on toning my arms. At the gym, I asked the physical trainer about toning my upper arms. Once I was taught the exercises, I began to implement them into my routine. If I put on that same dress today, would I miraculously have toned arms? No, it will take several weeks of exercise before I start seeing results of this discipline.

Later that week, I facilitated the Experiencing God, Bible study by Henry Blackaby. The class discussion for the week focused on the difference between being self-centered and God-centered. One of the women raised a great question, “Now, that I’m aware that I’ve been more self-centered, how do I change to be more God-centered?”

I responded, “Just as my upper arms were not toned overnight, in a similar way, becoming more God-centered is not going to happen overnight. Once you become initially aware, ask God to help you become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice in your day-to-day life. Ask for the courage to listen and obey.  As you begin to “exercise” this muscle of listening and obeying, the more strengthened and toned this muscle becomes.”

However, the more we ignore and disobey God’s Spirit, the harder our hearts become to hear His voice.  It’s like each time we put another cotton ball in our ears, until there are so many we can’t hear anymore.  The hardest times to listen and obey are in the tense situations, such as an argument where you sense the Spirit cautioning you not to speak hurtful words,  but you are so angry that you find yourself doing it anyway.

Take baby steps. Start exercising your spiritual muscles by obeying in the non-tense situations. This could be when you feel the Spirit nudging you to reach out to someone who is hurting or by praying if God wants you to fast.   Fasting is a spiritual discipline like communion, prayer, and reading your Bible.  It is the act of denying yourself of particular foods, drinks, or a meal, or activity (such as TV or social media).  When you deny yourself, and feel that craving for whatever you are sacrificing, reach out in prayer. Cry out to God in a hunger for Him.  It makes you more aware of what He is doing in your life.  By fasting, your prayers will be more fervent, and it exercises that spiritual muscle of becoming more God-centered.

This year for Lent, my daughter felt led to fast from ice cream and soda. It was difficult for my husband and two teenage boys to remember. However, it was a great learning experience for her. Shed had to stand firm when people around her were eating or drinking those items, and not bring attention to herself. Ultimately, it deepened her relationship with God. Each time she cried out to God during those difficult times of craving ice cream and soda, was reevaluating why she was fasting to begin with.

Sometimes God calls us to fast when He knows we are about to encounter a trial. It strengthens us as we shut out the noises of the world and connect to the Vine (John 15:5) When we remain in Him, we produce His fruit (Gal 5:22-23) in every area of our lives.   Trials would be those “tense” times, and after strengthening those muscles, then we are more likely to be “toned” and to act in God-centered ways in the midst of the hard times.

The more we obey and experience God at work, the more we trust Him.   We see in the Bible how God works in unexpected ways, and as we see Him working in our lives. We also see that He answers in unexpected ways. Trusting in God’s promises when we can’t see His hand will tone our spiritual muscles.

Amy is married to Peter and together they have 3 teens.  She works from home as an administrative professional in addition to owning her own Mary Kay business.  She serves in her church as a middle school small group leader and coaches and mentors moms of young children through a ministry called Moms & More.

Rest and Praise: Underutilized Weapons of Faith

trace-gods-hand-trust-gods-heart-quote-spurgeon-pixabayRestlessness is an Enemy tactic. Restlessness loots our heart of peace and leaves a destruction of doubt in its wake. If left unattended, a restless heart will corrode. The faith-filled heart, once anchored to trust, will begin to rust as our hearts silently question our Lord’s ability and Sovereignty.

The shift from faith to doubt is subtle. I recently caught myself following the breadcrumb path that lead to restlessness. Unbeknownst to me I’d shifted postures from waiting on God to the I’ll do it myself posture.  This shift towards self-sufficiency was slow and subtle.

We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart. Spurgeon. @RedChairMoments Click To Tweet

Recognizing the subtle shift away from God’s Sovereignty toward my self-sufficiency, I prayed and asked for forgiveness. I realized restlessness as an Enemy tactic to keep my mind anxious and stressed instead of filled with peace and rest.

While praying, I compiled a list of weapons of warfare: Prayer, Love, Meditation, Praise, and Rest. By understanding the areas I am most vulnerable, this enables me to understand which of these weapons I need to utilize in times of unrest.Weapons of Faith

Weapons of Praise and Rest Verses:

“Cease striving, and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31, NIV)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

When circumstances appear grim, remember to grab a weapon of faith and praise and rest in God’s Sovereignty.

What area of your life do you need to “cease striving” and rest with God?

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay *Scripture is via Bible Gateway.com

P.S. This post was originally posted on Inspire a Fire.com, an inspirational website that features my writing the second Monday each month. Please check it out for additional encouragement.

Victory Perspective

What if you approached your battle from the stance of victory? Click To Tweet

Photo courtesy of 88.5 Lite FMThe biggest battle I face is not wondering about direction in my current season. The biggest battle I face is trusting God has already won the battle on my behalf.

I love to highlight passages of scripture where God uses past tense grammar to describe a current or future victory. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Joshua and Jericho

“See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” (Joshua 6:2, NIV)

Joshua stands before a small city fortified with tall walls. Assessing the giant walls, God said, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” I wish I could see the look on Joshua’s face at that moment. Queue the climatic music. Staring up at the walls, did he have a look of skepticism or determination? Before God offers an unusual battle plan, He assured Joshua, “I have delivered” this city into your hands.boots PIxabay

Joshua entered into battle from the stance of victory.

Moses’ Commission

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20-31 (NIV)

Moses led a million march–a motley crew of former slaves, out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards freedom. God in is mighty way parted the Red Sea and the people marched right through toward freedom. Before the split, God assured Moses, “I am sending an angel ahead of you…to a place I have prepared.”

With Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army closing in behind, Moses walked in a stance of victory on dry ground as he crossed the Red Sea.

Gideon’s Call

“Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” (Judges 7:15, NIV)

A chapter before, the Lord finds Gideon hiding from the enemy. Now God has called him to fight. Before God issues an unusual battle plan (by the way, most of God’s battle strategies are unusual) He assures Gideon, “The Lord has given” the enemy into your hands.

Gideon enters into battle from a stance of victory.

The victory is yours. Go get it! Click To Tweet

sword-790815_1920 pixabayWe can learn from Joshua, Moses, and Gideon. These men faced insurmountable circumstances, yet they entered into battle from a stance of victory.

Before God issues an unusual battle plan, for our lives we can rest assure He has already prepared our future and delivered the victory.

What battle are you facing?  The victory is already yours. Go get it.

If you need musical motivation, I recommend listening to Go Get It by Mary Mary.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay and 88.5 Lite FM

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Celebrate Goals: Making Progress

Celebrate Goals of Making ProgressJune 2, 2016: Hey, I’m making progress! This thought occurred to me while pushing the grocery cart to my car, alone. This was a minor shopping trip consisting of Gala apples, bread, and juice. To most, this was a minor trip; however, this was my monumental day.

June 13, 2016: Facebook entry: “I cooked today. One person’s chore is another’s progress.”

Since this neuromuscular disease hijacked by body eight months ago, activities previously dreaded have now become a sign of progress. I no longer take health and ability for granted.  I consider it joy to have the strength to purchase apples and push a cart alone.

One person’s chore is another’s progress Click To Tweet

My body easily deceives me into thinking I can do more without suffering consequences.  Unfortunately, my strength is short lived. In both instances, light grocery shopping and cooking dinner,  my energy (or spoons*) was quicklCelebrate Goals Making Progress Snail quote Charles Spurgeony depleted. I am thankful for my children who hauled in the groceries and cleaned up the kitchen.

The above mention of spoons refers to the Spoon Theory, a highly popular article written by Christine Miserandino (www.butyoudon’tlooksick.com) who succinctly shares life with a chronic illness.

Each of us face a chronic battle. Maybe you’re trying to be more thankful, take more steps, or drink more water. Perhaps you’re battling a chronic illness, anxiety, fear, depression, or addiction.

Whatever goals you have set, celebrate each time you catch yourself #MAKING PROGRESS 

Are you racing snails? What recent goals are you celebrating? Please share!

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. Charles Spurgeon. Click To Tweet

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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