We all have a story. Some seem more beautiful, creative, and (let’s be honest) easy. And other stories may be full of disappointment, pain, and ugliness. I find that most stories are a combination of both. The reason I use the term “story” instead of “life” is that story has movement. Your story is unfolding each and every day. Your story is riddled with intrigue and beauty, pain and redemption. I love our stories. I love how unique and different each one is. I don’t love how painful our stories can be but I love how we are rescued from these places and given new perspective to offer the world. I want you to start loving your story too and yet I know that this may be difficult. We see others around us living the life we want and it chokes the joy out of us.
We’re all familiar with the saying “Comparison is the enemy of joy”, right? Well it’s true! Comparison is the villain in your story. This villain is envious, covetous, creating a poor view of yourself and of others. It ultimately dilutes our stories into fictional scenes that are full of lies which lead only to our discontent. Combatting this villain is no easy task because we may not even be comparing ourselves to someone else but to the person who we think be “should” be. In order to fight back we must retrain our brains to think differently. Here are a few ways we can begin to think differently about ourselves and those around us.
Take some time to get to know yourself…seriously. Celebrating who God has made you is an offering of thanksgiving. You are beautifully and wonderfully made! If you feel stuck in this place of comparison or just need a refresher, here are a few exercises I encourage you to do to discover your uniqueness.
- Ask your friends and family about what makes you, you. I know this sounds silly but just try it. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- What are my strengths?
- What do you like most about my personality?
- What are some of my unique gifts? Developed and underdeveloped? (I will get to this later)
- What would you want for me in the next 10 years?
- Take a Strengths Finder test and circle the words that you feel describe you best.
- Myers Briggs and CVI are two great personality tests I recommend. Read through your results and highlight sentences that are exciting to you.
- If you are a Christ-follower, take a spiritual gifts test. Take this test at www.SpiritualGiftsTest.com and find out how God has uniquely gifted you to serve the body.
I seriously have these posted on my wall in my office. They are an objective view on how God has made me. They remind me who I am and how I should be spending my time, and energy. We too often spend time managing our weaknesses and in turn neglect our strengths. So take the time to get to know yourself better. Self awareness is an essential tool in our stories!
Take a Break
I know it’s ironic that I am saying this because I just posted this blog on my Instagram but seriously, sometimes we just need a break from social media and Netflix. I gave up Netflix during Lent session one year and haven’t gone back to my old habits since. I feel more fulfilled and use my time wisely, giving attention to the areas I am passionate about. Start small if needed. Take a week off or limit your time each day. If this a real problem for you, reach out and ask for help.
Some of you (myself included) may roll their eyes at this exercise because of its overuse but it really works! Creating a habit of gratitude alleviates stress and forces you to look beyond just what isn’t going right in your life. If you don’t have a guide or gratitude practice already, my favorite version is by Ann Voskamp from her book “One Thousand Gifts”. Find her guide here at her website www.AHolyExperience.com under Freebies. It gives you a list of 3 things each day you can be thankful for. Super powerful stuff!
Celebrate Each Other
Celebrating who we are is the gateway to celebrating who we are not. Sounds a little strange but stay with me here. When we see ourselves more clearly then we start to see others more clearly. We realize that we cannot do it all and heck, we shouldn’t be doing it all. When we know and accept our limitations we can begin to start celebrating those strengths in others. However, when I see a gift in myself that is underdeveloped but is fully grown in another person this could become a potential pitfall. Our tendency to beat ourselves up over this very issue is often too commonplace. So instead of letting the feeling of “not good” creep in, step back and revisit your unique strengths that are currently developed. Take it as an opportunity to learn in a state of humility. Enjoy the growth process and discover that vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity!
When we stop comparing ourselves to one another one thing I know for sure starts to happen: healthy community. Our stories were never meant to be lived out in isolation; We need each other, sisters! I hope that through this journey of stepping into your story you will begin to love your story as well as others. We only can do this by knowing that we are fully and completely loved for who we are as unique individuals. You’ll hear me say this time and time again but if you only take one thing away, let it be this: