Monday, March 7, 2011

The Comparison Monster

I've known for a long time that I struggle with comparison. I think all people do on some level and, if you say you don't, you probably don't realize that you do. But I won't focus on cyberspace-you and will instead focus on me.

Over the past few years, a time of more heart change than I ever would have dreamed possible, the depth with which I compare myself to others was peeled back. Even so, last week the Lord revealed to me that that comparison is so deep that it defines the way I view myself and my relationship with him. And this comparison practice has pushed me down into striving to live by the law even though I am made free from the law through grace in Christ Jesus. Essentially I was hit by a spiritual 2x4 last week when I stumbled my way into Galatians 3, particularly the first six verses that say:

You foolish Galatians! (aka you foolish Sarah!) Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing in what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain - if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

More and more since last week, I've realized how comparison has bonded me in the chains of the law as I continually try to determine if my life looks like it should. And if it doesn't, how do I force myself to change to make it look like some ambiguous vision of what I think is right. Essentially how do I finish my salvation by means of the flesh!

This morning I was praying as I have no idea how to free myself from these chains. What am I supposed to do Lord? I finished my time without a clear answer and headed into work. About an hour into the day, I found myself comparing as different people talked about how many hours they worked over the weekend, etc. I felt guilty that I didn't crack my computer open except to pull a recipe and instead devoted the weekend to my family (more on the baby shower for Morgan Elisabeth later!). I am thereby a bad worker.

I was then reminded of a sweet girl in our small group who took a moment to thank me last night for consistently coming to shoreline. It was an encouragement, but bits of guilty creeped in as I skipped the month of October as I was just tired from the whirlwind of things in my life. Did that make me an unfaithful leader?

I missed church yesterday due to family time and shoreline, but was just able to catch-up on the sermon as I worked on a project/ate lunch. It was about doubt and I definitely recommend it. (Go here to listen) Doubt was something I battled last fall in a big way, but then also had a realization as it relates to my continuous comparison and living under the law.

I doubt that God will change me, mold me, and direct my steps; therefore, I look for humans to measure myself against.

Wow. Talk about a 2x4 against the head. It is SCARY to let go of the reins of my life. It is SCARY to trust that God will not let me go. That he created me with this personality, set of giftings, set of weaknesses, fears, doubts, etc and that he did so beautifully.

The theme of the shower this weekend was Psalm 139. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am saved by grace alone so that I cannot boast. Walking by the Spirit, knowing that I am already covered by the grace of Jesus and have no need for comparing myself to created beings is SCARY. I don't know why I'm so hard on myself since my heart is continually on-fire for pointing others to grace, but I am desperate to remove the chains of the law.

It is SCARY, but it is sweet. Trusting every moment of the day demands continuous communication with the Spirit, leaning into his urgings when I feel myself looking to another instead of looking to the Cross. I know I'll fail at times and I know I'll need to be reminded of grace. Thankful God doesn't let me go.