A very dear friend of mine said something to me recently that has changed my whole perspective. She told me that God doesn’t have anyone to talk to about us. I believe she was talking about how other people talk about us. Friends talk about us behind our back. Family compares notes on us to each other. “Did you see what she did?” “Did you see what she wore?” “Did you hear what she said?” It is all around us.
Just look at FaceBook. Here is a forum where we can display our accomplishments for everyone to see. I believe that FaceBook can be dangerous. I did a study in the spring that really forced me to look at myself. Not my outward appearance but my heart. What motivates me? Where did I need to change? What did I need to surrender to God? It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Started, I mean. I am not done yet. I noticed that I became very critical of other people when I went on FaceBook. I like to keep my posts very “safe”. I don’t notify everything to everyone. I don’t brag about my husband. He doesn’t have FaceBook and I am a strong believer in tell him things to his face. I also try to compliment him in person. I think it is more effective that way. I found myself comparing myself to others, though. The photos of how much weight someone has lost. The pics of someone else’s new car. Someone else’s perfect spouse, kids or family. The update about how God is using someone else’s story in such amazing ways. All these things made me hate myself a little more.
We were recently at a family gathering for someone’s birthday. It was less than a week after mine. I didn’t want to have a party. I am a quiet person (generally) and I get self-conscious easily. My daughter told the waitress that it was my birthday at the restaurant we went to for dinner and I was almost physically ill when all the wait staff came to sing and bring me dessert. It isn’t the way I’m wired. The problem started though, when the relative who was having the birthday started listing all the people who had called/texted her to wish her a happy birthday. I immediately started comparing. Then another person at this get-together started telling my husband how God was opening up a new opportunity for her to lead a Bible study. All I could think about was myself. And I started a pity-party. A party for one (I don’t like big gatherings!).
Since Arlynne died it has been even more difficult, this tendency to compare myself. A lot of times it is comparing other’s response to her death. There are a number of young people who have died that have had a lot more attention drawn to them. Their moms have started new organizations. There are memorials in their honour. Legislation has changed. There is something bigger than the person herself that keeps her memory alive. I understand that. That is every grieving mom’s desire. That someone will remember her child. I have been there.
The high school that my daughter attended has had a number of students die over the years of the school existence. There are a number of plaques and awards in their honour in a showcase in the front hall of the school. Every year the parents gather at the graduation ceremony to award a graduate the award in honour of their child. All these parents sit together. It is just something that happens. I was told that there would be an award in Arlynne’s honour for a student in her graduating class. We did everything we had to do for it and it was awarded to her best friend. In a telephone meeting with a staff member, however, it was stressed to me that this would be the only year that this award was given. I knew that there were memorial awards given out for years. I took it very personally when my child only had that one time.
There is also the opportunities for other moms that arise from her story. I have been to a number of meetings where a woman has shared her story. She has been asked to. After Arlynne died, I spoke at 8 different occasions in 7 weeks, including an appearance on a Christian television program. I know that other people have submitted my name to share at groups but no one has called. It leaves me questioning God. It makes me feel that much more inadequate. That I am not as good as that person. That my story isn’t good enough. I could also get caught up in how many people have come to visit my blog. I was thrilled on the day that I went from a handful of visitors to quadruple that. But then, the numbers get smaller again.
Time and time again I have been faced with that same feeling. The feeling that someone else is getting something instead of me. I look to God and ask Him “why them?”. “Why not me?” “Haven’t I been faithful?” “Haven’t I sacrificed for You?” I have a new perspective now. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.”(HCSB) When I do things for God, when He becomes my primary focus, my perspective changes. The response of people around me becomes less important. I am not doing things for them anymore.
God doesn’t compare us to each other. He is not talking about me to anyone. One of the times we read about God talking about one of His children to someone else is in Job 1:8 “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.'”(HCSB) God is proud of his faithful servant Job. He is saying that Job is walking in His ways. In the same way, I don’t believe that God is looking at me and comparing all my faults with someone else. He looks at me and sees me. The woman He created. The woman I can be. The woman who is seeking Him. It is all about God and me.
I was recently directed to a verse by a couple of different sources. Actually, I believe that God was directing me there because I needed to hear it. It is Zephaniah 3:17, “Yahweh, your God, is in the midst of you, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”(WEB) The thought of God rejoicing over me is overwhelming. I have been raised that God loves everyone but I have not really accepted it as a personal truth. I am just part of a group. Like when a singer screams “I love you” to his adorning fans. It isn’t about the individual, it is about the crowd. When I accept the fact that the God of the universe, my Creator, the one who know me better than anyone else, loves me it changes my whole perspective. When I can accept His love, I can better focus on HIM. Sure, there are still all those ways around me for me to compare myself but they fade when I keep my face continually fixed on Him.
I am not there yet. I go through the times when all I can do is praise Him but there are also the times when I struggle. He knows that because He knows me. All I need to do is keeping listening for His voice. Isaiah 30:21 says “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”(NIV) This is a promise that I can stand on while I walk through this life.
I don’t know what this life still holds for me. But my Father God does. He has it all. All I have to do is walk in obedience. I’ll leave the rest to Him.