Encouragement Outweighs Envy Every Time

CT.4-3
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


And let us consider how we may spur
one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more
as you see the Day approaching.
~ Hebrews 10:24-25

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Three… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

I have a short and sweet takeaway today. It’s not because there isn’t much to chew on from today’s Scripture and devotional, though. It’s because there is just SO much to dwell upon within this verse, and I’d just prefer you do just that.

Encouragement outweighs envy every single time, and it truly gets us out of the comparison trap.

With the Scripture verse in mind, I’d like to share Sandra’s closing prayer for the Day Three devotional. Please ponder both today, and be an encourager by spurring others on toward love and good deeds!

“Father, I’m so grateful for the people who have cheered me on to past achievements with their prayers, text messages, and affirming notes. Show me how to be the encourager my friends, family, and co-workers need to accomplish the big things you’ve planned for them.”


 

The Sprint to Compare My Prayer

CT.1-6
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating. 


Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
~ Philippians 4:6

 The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Six… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

I just love this verse and its instructions on bringing our prayers and praises to the Lord. I can’t help, though, when I read it, to know that I fall short in accomplishing it.

“Do not be anxious about anything…”
Ok, then… I’m not doing that.

“…but in every situation…”
Ok… I’m not doing that, either.

“…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving…”
My journey with the Lord has helped me to feel better about that next part, as I certainly do a lot of asking, but I also do a lot of praising…now! (Please know, though… It hasn’t always been this way. I’ve had to consciously choose to offer up those praises, and it’s been a process of repetitious reminders to get to this place in doing so.)

A cherished friend of mine has always been good at adding the “thanksgiving” to her prayers. When our girls were little, we’d gather with a few other ladies for some mother-daughter time, and her continual reminders for us to offer up praises helped to shape my prayer life in a significant way.

There was an early time in our relationship with one another where I felt like I was falling comparatively short in the thanksgiving and praise part of my prayer life. I envied how it seemed to be so natural to her. I felt so far behind that I consciously tried to make up for it by practicing my prayers at home and in private just to see how much thanksgiving I could plug in to them.

I took what should have been something I celebrated in her, and I made it a competition in my heart. I practiced, and I brought Him my prayers and thanksgivings, but in doing so, it became more about matching her said-out-loud praises. I was doing it for the wrong reasons.

But somewhere along the way, after spending many years loving to listen to her prayers, I stopped comparing my ability to praise Him, and I started to celebrate her ability to do so. It opened up my heart, and it changed me from the inside-out. I finally got to a point of being able to praise Him, because I had a lot for which to praise Him! Instead of continuing in the race, I began dropping to my knees for the right reasons.

Moving away from the trap of comparison and moving more toward genuine love and conversation with God brought new life to my friendship with her and new life to my desire to connect with my Lord. Looking back, I know He was using that season to prepare me for the dark season to come, when being able to find the blessings would be oh-so important to my spiritual survival. I’m glad that along the way, I stopped comparing my prayers to hers and instead learned to celebrate her and see how He was using her to lead me.

The comparison trap can cause us to feel like we need to catch up, and when we’re willing to examine our hearts through His lens, we can see more clearly where it is He is trying to lead us.


 

 

 

Monday’s Musings — At a Loss for Words

This has happened to me more times than I care to remember, and I know it has also happened to you:

Someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them. So, you don’t really say much of anything.

When we’re at a loss for words because of the hurt another is experiencing and we choose to say nothing, we fall short of providing hope to them. The simplicity of a few words to tell your friend or acquaintance they are being thought of can lift them up. Saying nothing does nothing.

After going through my own devastating hurts in the last few years, I’ve experienced this from the other side, also. There were many times I’d run into someone who knew bits of what I was going through, but they’d skirt the topic, avoid me completely, or just stand there acting like nothing ever happened. I’m sure most never meant to be hurtful in their avoidance, but doing so did not help me at all. The people who offered me a kind word or thought were the ones who impacted me. They were the ones who offered me a piece of hope.

Yes, there are times when words are not necessary. You’ll know what that looks like with your closest friends. But, truly, how many times have you walked away from a co-worker, an acquaintance, a family member or a friend in pain and not said anything? I’m guessing when you did, your next few moments were thinking about YOURSELF and how YOU didn’t know what to say.

“Why didn’t I say something?”

“What should I have said?”

“Wow, I fumbled through that conversation.”

“I am so glad that isn’t me.”

“I am so glad my life isn’t that messed up.”

In these circumstances, why do we often think first of ourselves instead of thinking about the person who needs a glimmer of hope in their life? We, instead, have the choice and the chance to genuinely think about them and find a way to help them through their trial.

So back up.

Back up to the approach where someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them.

This time, here’s what to say:

“I’m thinking of you.”

“I’m praying for you.”

“You have been in my thoughts.”

“I will continue to hold you in prayer.”

“I can’t begin to understand all you are going through, but, please know, I will pray for you.”

Do you see the hope? Do you see how you are still using the word “I,” but the focus has become about them and what YOU can do FOR them. Prayer does this.

When we lift others up in prayer, their trials begin to have hope. The amazing thing about this, too, is that when we have a chance to offer hope to others, we, in turn, feel more hopeful.