I was on a 16-hour drive to Texas to pick up my brother to then get on an 8-hour flight to Hawaii…you can imagine how many topics I thought about with that much time on hands. I have always loved driving and no distance was ever too far for me, maybe because I love that time away to just simply think. I laugh, cry, feel inspiration, see God’s creation… it’s really nice. I usually end up talking to God for hours and I cherish that uninterrupted time with just Him and I. For some reason, every time I talk to God I end up in tears (does this ever happen to you?), whether it’s thanking Him, being moved, letting out pain that I’ve held on to longer than I should, praying for others or just pleading for Him to come near. Whatever happens during my time with God, it will naturally bring tears to my eyes.
Sometimes the enemy will distract me while talking with God though, saying things like “I bet so and so has a closer relationship to God” or “They are doing better at life than you,” and then I start feeling the green monster come to life, you know, that mean, bitter, envious monster that rises up jealously. I’ve compared myself with anything and everything under the sun. From looks, to shape, to success, to popularity, to brains, to progress, to jobs, to clothes, to models, to height, to weight, to skin tone, to even others gifts (I’ve listed enough for you to understand that I am super human in this area). If you have never compared yourself, you must be a God.
For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you are you not of the flesh and behaving only in human way? 1 Corinthians 3:3
Whoever I was comparing myself to at the time ended up on a pedestal. This pedestal was loaded with people I could never measure up to. I know some people find flaws in others just to make themselves feel better, but I was the opposite. Flaws and scars… I have many, so I wasn’t interested in that. I found beauty, strength and qualities others had and found enjoyment in building them up. Then the night would come around and I found myself comparing and trying to match up to their beauty or gift. It was a weird cycle of confusion. “Why would I do this?”
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30
As I compared myself I remembered all the times I heard others mumble under their breath and say some of the same things I have like, “Why can’t I look like that, have a gift like that or look good in a swimsuit like that.” Then it hit me, ALL of us have someone (or SEVERAL…..okay- maybe that’s just me) that we compare ourselves to. This very thing, I believe is killing us. it’s killing our relationships, authenticity, our originality and more. We must pray and develop our gifts so then we may be a gift to someone’s world. If we don’t become who God created us to be it could be disastrous.
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 1 Corinthians 12:7
What if your gift is one that could save someone’s life. If you and I had every good gift from God, then there would be no room for you and I to help each other and we wouldn’t need anyone. Wouldn’t that defeat one of God’s purposes for our lives- to help and make a positive difference and represent Him as a light in this world.
The person I compared myself to is comparing herself to someone and that person to someone else and then there may even be people comparing themselves to me and it creates this big destructive cycle and we lose sight that we were all made different so we could help each other- not break down or hold back from each other.
Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless-like chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4
With my mind on overload now and with only one more hour to go before arriving to my brother’s house, I looked to the sky for answers- the inner child in me enjoys doing that. Trying to find some hidden message in the clouds and allowing my imagination to run wild with stories involving characters I find. Whether it’s getting lost in the shapes and depths, or just gazing up hoping for a miracle that God himself would tell me exactly what to do and then wipe my doubt and tears away, I liked looking up to the sky. Although God can do that and is able…I received something different. My eyes were locked on the sky and something from within began to feel calm, like I wasn’t alone in this tough season I’ve been going through. It was as if everything connected- the universe, the heavens, my mind and my heart all aligned for those few seconds. Tearfully speechless, I wiped my tears away to look deeper into what suddenly calmed me down.
So, I took a picture of what my eyes were fixed upon to help make sense of it all.
When I saw this, I felt like it described my life. People called me sunshine and I was always such an energetic, happy-go-lucky girl who overcame obstacles and odds, loved everyone, was always a bright light with a joyful smile and was hardly EVER down for long (to some this is the definition of being naive and those “some” can go away). When things happened that I did not expect or something hurt me in any way, it was a quick recovery. Then one day, a series of past-memories came rushing in (even things from years ago, that I thought I permanently deleted from my mind). This rush of pain and guilt on top of my current circumstances, turned my never ending good days into a bad one. This one bad day turned into weeks, then months and then a current dark and silent season. I had never faced or healed from the pain that was actually buried inside me, but as my story goes, it will eventually catch up.
I am still smiling and sense joy deep, deep within me but there is this feeling of dread. Like a heavy dark cloud approaching to take what good positive energy I had left away from me. I couldn’t see it with my physical eyes but I could feel it, it was real, and it never let me forget it. Its darkness would taunt and haunt my every smile and hope for the future. The clouds haven’t even covered me yet but I know they’re there… lurking. Honestly… it’s like I got so comfortable and use to being sad that it would’t let me be happy for too long- just worrying about the next disappoint or setback to come instead of enjoying the current moment I was in. It tells me “Wouldn’t it be easier to deal with pain and disappoints if you’re already depressed… so just stay there. Stay in pain, stay unforgiving, stay bitter, stay anxious, stay doubtful…stay depressed. That way when bad things happen, you’re already there and it won’t hurt as bad.”
What the hell?! What is that?! How deceiving the enemy is! …This made logical sense to me though to be honest. I felt like he was saving me from the crushing fall of happiness(high) to sadness(low)… like he kind of cared about me in a way. (HAHA!) Again, how deceiving!?
The only way I got him off my back (for a little while) was when I was depressed, doubtful and full of insecurities. He would finally stop threatening me with storms and just let me cry in my own self-pity. When I cried though, he wasn’t around to comfort me or encourage me to get back up. I discovered it wasn’t that the enemy finally stopped, he actually left because he got what he wanted…one of God’s children down and discouraged.
It’s not the prettiest picture or even impressive, quite average really, but then again, that describes my life too. I could have easily replaced this photo I took in such a candid powerful moment, and I could have found a prettier version online which would draw more attention, but I didn’t. The value of this picture was not found in the lighting or what it looked like through the lens- It was worth more than that. The value was found in its depth, its meaning, its purpose, and its selfless act of kindness it showed me in a desperate hour knowing I could give it nothing in return.
How many times do we wish we could just screenshot a better, prettier, thinner, more successful version of ourselves and just download it in real life? As we take our “nightly scroll down Instagram lane,” and emotions start stirring up of not being enough and then we start comparing ourselves and end up going to bed in tears wondering when will this awful cycle end? Have I become addicted to this?
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:16
This dark cloud was becoming closer to engulf the sun, eagerly ready to dim its light and suffocate its only purpose. I was thinking that the sun would still warm and shinning underneath all those clouds and darkness but soon I would no longer be able to see its radiating light. There is nothing like a Texas storm. Once it starts rolling in, you can expect some damage to whatever gets in its path. (Sound familiar? Aren’t humans just like this? When we go through storms, we take on its destructive identity and damage whoever is around us and, well, basically… we take it out on others). As darkness took over the sky, I started thinking more.
This was the last time I would see the sun for today and with my windows down, cruising on I-20 West, I experienced the last feeling of warmth on my skin.
Then, it was goodbye.
I wondered, what if the sun wasn’t ready? Did it know it’s goodbye was coming so it could take one last look, shine bright one last time, and provide warmth for one last minute before the willing storm took its unwilling surrender. What if it wasn’t finished yet? What if it planned a date with the ocean tonight to share its beautiful colors during a sunset? What if it wanted to stay a little longer looking over the top of that mountain? What if it wanted more time to play shadow games with kids and give them a few more minutes of fun outside before having to go inside due to the storm? What if it even wanted to spend this last hour with me on the road- guiding me with its light and making sure I got there safely?
WHAT IF IT WASN’T READY?!
How many times have we looked at people helplessly while slowly being suffocated by dark clouds? How many times has someone looked at us knowing something wasn’t right or as bright as usual?
WHAT IF IT WASN’T READY?!
I noticed how strong the sun was though- allowing the storm to come without running away from it. Almost like it knew everything was going to be okay. The sun didn’t cry, but the clouds were as if they knew what they were doing…how they were hiding such a beautiful gift to the world.
The sun remained what it was. It didn’t conform into the clouds shape or follow the drops of rain into the trenches, it didn’t strike out in anger… no, the lighting did that, it didn’t turn cold due to the darkness and it didn’t roll with the loud crowd of the thunder. This was because it knew its purpose. It didn’t become frightened or envious… it remained itself, bright, warm and radiant with colors.
In fact, maybe the sun needed this…? During this storm, its light may not have been radiating outwardly for all to see, but it now had time to reflect within. To feel the warmth and light shine within itself. There was no audience, approval, applause or eyes watching it’s every move. This was the sun’s time alone- with itself and its creator.
As the storm intends to destroy you, God is using it to design you.
God designing the skies reminded me of hope and faith. Hope told me that this is just a cloud, a storm, a season and that I too will shine again with warmth. Faith told me that it wasn’t “goodbye,” because in the morning I would see God’s glory shining through my windows.
When I compare myself to this world and people in it, I allow Satan room to come between me and God. Every time before I write, the enemy always tells me it’s pointless, that I’m voiceless and mindless, in hopes to make me joyless, hopeless, and faithless.
Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Jesus Christ that you do this. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
BUT GOD tells me to trust in His promises, not to stress and that I am a beautiful work in progress. He reminds me that I’m not here to impress, but for my love for Him to be confessed. Rather than looking to the world to patch up spiritual wounds (which it can never do), we can instead look to God and find hope. When we focus on God and become “busy” in loving Him, He starts building up a new love within our hearts.
All the comparing, doubt and insecurities always comes when I am focused on myself instead of Christ. I am not perfect, not even close or a little bit…but Christ’s perfection results in restoration of my mind and heart.
Never changing your focus from yourself will eventually destroy you.
Changing your focus to God will eventually design you.
What the storm meant for destruction, God turned into peace.
By the way, I may have left Texas in a storm but now I am meeting a peaceful, unhurried and beautiful Hawaiian sunset over the ocean.
What the storm meant for destruction, God turned into peace. And remember this, not everything is what it seems. Just because you feel like your light is gone, I promise you it’s not. Just because you can’t always see it shining from where you are, doesn’t mean that it’s not shinning in the place God is taking you next. He is not finished designing you and the storm won’t last forever. Close your eyes, take a deep inhale and exhale and now just like the sun, get ready to rise and let’s keep our eyes set on Jesus Christ.
He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity (a sense of divine purpose) in the human heart (a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God)—Yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11