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.


 

 

 

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The Struggle with Choosing What Matters Most

CT.1-4
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. 


Better one hand with tranquility
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:6

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

I’m totally guilty of having two handfuls with toil and feeling as though I am chasing after the wind. Totally guilty. I have a lot of tranquility in many areas of my life, but I’ve been guilty of compartmentalizing certain segments of my life, too.

In today’s devotional, Sandra Stanley asks a few questions based on the childhood game, “Would You Rather?” The first question really made me think. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it before… this time, though, I think I was supposed to think about it in the context of today’s Scripture verse. That is something I’ve consciously avoided doing before today.

Sandra writes, “Would you rather get the promotion that everyone in the office is vying for or have consistent nights of dinner around the table with your family?”

I don’t think a promotion like that exists at my job, and if it did, it probably wouldn’t take me away from dinner with my family, but the concept of increasing my work time and realizing how that could impact my family did hit me square in the head when Sandra asked that question.

I was an at-home momma for 18 years. I’ve homeschooled all three of my kids, volunteered as a team mom in every sport or activity in which they’ve participated, have enjoyed serving at my church, have helped my husband with a home-based business, and I’ve found fulfillment in cooking great meals for my family and caring for my home. A few years ago, circumstances with my husband’s career changed, and I knew the time was coming when I’d need to consider re-entering the outside-the-home work force. Sixteen months ago a door opened to that possibility, and fifteen months ago I walked through that door.

I enjoy it, but almost too much. Other than now having only one child left to homeschool through high school, none of my family responsibilities have been lessened over the last year or so, even though I do now work outside of the home, too. If I’m really honest with myself, my home-based responsibilities have actually increased in this timeframe.

But I like my work. I work in an aspect of ministry, and being able to do so does my mind and soul some real good! I really cherish the opportunity to help people build personal relationships with God and with others. It’s hard for me to look at what’s written on the photo above, because my job in ministry does contribute to that which lasts… those relationships and bridges I’m helping to build really could last well into eternity.

In this season of my life, there’s another ministry to which I’ve been called:  I’ve been called to care for and minister to my family as the primary caretaker, teacher, and source of income. The ministry of lovingly caring for my husband and my children is important, and I need to make sure I’m focused and available to meet those needs. The relationships and bridges I help to build here are also an investment which will last well into eternity. It’s just not time for me to be spending more mental and physical time at my job than I do in my home-based job.

Based on the Scripture verse for today, the photo with the artistically-crafted reminder, and the insight-filled Challenge of today’s devotional, I really do need to focus upon and dwell upon more of what matters most, because one has a shorter season left than the other. Even though my work time and my home time are both spent “ministering” to how I’ve been called, my primary ministry is to my family. It won’t be long before my youngest child graduates from high school. It won’t be long before my husband will, once again, be able to help to support our family.

My “someday” for whatever is to come will be here soon enough, and when it does come, I can trust that God will open the right doors through which I can walk. In the meantime, it’s important for me to stop toiling in my mind, worrying about the money I need to support my family, and chasing the wind that challenges my contentment in the ministry of being fully present for them.

It’s a season, and soon enough, the wind will change. For now, I need to focus on the tranquility of that one open hand, find a way to help to open up the clenched fist in the other one, and breathe in the peace and satisfaction of knowing that finding balance for all of us is what matters most. The “more of what matters most” is them, and today’s devotional has been a reminder for me.