Faith

The Comparison Struggle

June 20, 2017

Many of us like to think that we don't get sucked into the comparison trap. We try to focus on our own lives and happiness but, to be completely honest, that's a pretty tall order. I used to be much worse about comparison - looking at everyone's life around me and wishing that I looked like her, or I had her relationship or her job. It drove me absolutely crazy and caused me to constantly beat down on myself or feel that I was a victim because life was simply unfair.

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Luckily, with a lot of work and grace, I've come a long way from that mindset. I learned that no matter how good someone else's life looks on the outside, you don't know what's really going on behind closed doors. I learned that we all have our own struggles for a reason, that my life is a gift and that I need to appreciate all the beautiful things that I do have, rather than focus on what I think I want.

Nevertheless, comparison is something that is very hard to get away from no matter who you are or how much you enjoy that life that you have. We're all human and we aren't blind to everyone else. You may not even be comparing yourself to someone in particular, but simply judging yourself and your life on what society considers "success" and whether or not you're meeting that standard.

There's that word: success. What does it even mean anyway?

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Even according to Merriam-Webster the definition of success is a little hazy. Why? Because success is not a universal thing to be achieved but something that is individual to each person and situation.

I was having my "quiet time" the other day and came across a passage in James that struck me and got me started on this topic in the first place:

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

James 3:16

To me, this verse means that when you're focused on envying what others have and trying to be better than other people, you'll endure a life filled with disorder and pain rather than one of love and joy. Focusing on impressing other people, having the fanciest things or prettiest house, or thinking that dropping two dress sizes will make you happier or more loved is only going to end up with you feeling disappointed.

Yes, it's hard not to want those things. Sometimes it's hard to look around and be not only satisfied with but grateful for what you have right now. However, at the end of the day, we have to remember what is really important. What are you going to look back on from your life and remember? When you slipped on that pair of jeans or looked good in that photo? Or are you going to remember the laughter with friends or the peace that came from doing what felt right and good to you?

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Whenever you find yourself in one of those moments, whether it's when you see your friend's new house, that person's amazing vacation photos on Instagram, or your coworker kicking butt at her job, take a deep breath and remember this:

You are exactly where you're meant to be. You have so many things to be grateful for and you are loved just as you are right now.

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Allow It To Be Easy

Feb 15, 2017

This was exactly what I needed to hear at this time in my life.

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“Allow it to be easy.”

Isn't it great when that happens? When you come across a quote, a bible verse, a song, or a mantra that just hits home for you? That's what happened to me when I heard Megan's story and mantra for the week.

In this short podcast, Megan Hale describes how she kept searching for one kind of job, applying to things she was overqualified for and hearing nothing back (I can SO relate). Then a different opportunity fell into her lap. She was offered an amazing opportunity, just not the one she had been looking for. She had spent all this time insisting that another path was where she was supposed to be until she realized that God was paving the way for her in another direction.

She chose to let go of what she thought should happen and go with what she was given.

I spent months and months not sure what direction I needed to go in. I thought I was meant to do social media work. I enjoyed it, I love doing it for my own blog and coaching business, so wasn't it the right fit? I applied to job and after job for almost eight months, got a couple interviews, but basically ended up nowhere. Then a completely different opportunity caught my eye and I applied. I figured, why not? It's not like they'll respond either. But they did and two weeks after that first email I was offered the job.

To say I was shocked and overwhelmed was an understatement. This job was a great opportunity, not to mention with amazing people and at a wonderful place to work, but it wasn't what I'd planned for. After a weekend of phone calls, prayer, tears and overwhelm, I decided to let go and surrender to God's plan. I decided that this had happened for a reason and it must be where I'm meant to be.

But you know what?

I've been fighting it every step of the way.

I'm not allowing it to be easy. I'm walking in with a controlling mindset, everywhere from "Did I make the right choice?" to trying to control each and every little thing that I do at work. But I can't plan everything. I can't control everything. I simply have to do my best and allow what happens to happen. As events unfold and people do what they do, it may not all go according to my plan and I have to be okay with that. I have to be positive, flexible and go with the flow.

Not everything in life has to be hard.

Whether it’s something huge like changing your career, or something small like a meeting with someone you don’t know, allow it to be easy. Don’t go in trying to control everything, just go in with a positive and open mind.

I need to remember this sentiment every day, not just today. I need to stop and come back to this mantra and idea of letting go of control throughout my daily life because trying to control everything only makes me miserable. It causes stress and it makes me want to just run away and never come back, because controlling everything is just not possible.

If you feel the same way - take this mantra and put it somewhere that you'll see every day. Let's let go of our controlling ways one day at a time, and allow it to be easy.

See Yourself Through God's Eyes

January 9, 2017

Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with feeling confident in how I looked. Back in middle school, (even though I tried to block that from my memory…) I used to tie sweatshirts around my waist every day because I felt so uncomfortable with my stomach. Hoping no one would notice me, I would try to make myself small.

I can’t actually remember a time in my life where I didn’t have that voice in my head telling me that I’m not good enough.

I used to think that this voice was telling me the truth, stemming from the fact that I was a little chubbier than the other girls. But you know what? This voice got worse, she got mean, when I was at my thinnest. Not so shockingly, I developed several different eating disorders. Each time I’d come up with some new plan that would make me thin, and therefore “worthy” and even when I was thin that voice would tell me it wasn’t good enough, leading me to give up or binge eat and start the cycle all over again.

While I still struggle with this mean girl voice in my head, I’m now able to recognize that it’s all lies. I’m able to shut her out of my head and tell her to be quiet. But how?

I found my worth in God.

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My baptism in Lake Michigan!

All of those years that I was struggling with eating disorders and a huge lack of self-worth, I had no relationship with Christ. I actually wasn’t even sure I believed in him. But he believed in me. I felt called, constantly, to seek out more information about the Christian faith until finally I joined a church and a small group, hoping I would learn from other women who walked in the Christian faith.

I learned from them and from my church’s teachings that these voices in my head were put there by Satan. That they are just lies, directed at my insecurities, to bring me down, to keep me from being a light. I learned that I am perfect in God’s eyes, that we all are. That each and every one of us is unique and sent to this earth for a purpose, and that purpose is NOT to just be thin or pretty or have tons of money.

I learned that my value is in being a child of God and that what I give to the world is not what I look like, but the love that I’m able to spread.

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Now all of this is great… for me. But what about you? Do you struggle with that “inner mean girl” voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough? I promise you, that voice will never go away, but there are lots of tools you can use to quiet her down and turn around your thoughts much more quickly:

Affirmations.

Using the affirmation “I am a beautiful child of God and he loves me just as I am,” made a WORLD of difference for me to help overpower those negative thoughts that were in my head. Find one that works for you and SHOUT IT if you need to drown out the negativity.

Bring voice to your shame.

Oftentimes, we’re ashamed of how we feel or what we really think. Share those thoughts, worries and insecurities with a friend that you truly trust.  Simply vocalizing them will shine light on them and make you feel less ashamed.

Gratitude.

We so often get wrapped up in the negative things in our lives that we don’t realize just how blessed we truly are. Take the time each day to think of new things you are grateful for, no matter how small or silly.

Celebrate what makes you different.

When I was a kid, I HATED my curly red hair.  Now I love it because it makes me unique. What makes you unique? Embrace those things and share them with others. Your uniqueness is your gift to everyone else.

Don’t judge yourself.

Jesus has granted all of us grace, so accept that gift and don’t be so hard on yourself. Do the best you can every day and know it’s okay if you mess up. It’s in the mess of life that we grow.

Just remember, this takes time and lots of practice. It would be lovely if we could have an epiphany, check that off our list of struggles, and move on, right? But often we have these struggles for a lifetime.  We just learn how to handle them better and, most importantly, how to help others with the same struggles.

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We are all in this life together, so let’s be lights. Let’s share love and lift one another up, even if that means sharing the difficult parts of ourselves. You are valuable, you are worthy, and you are so very loved.