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Chelsea Eubank

another knock against comparison

Posted in faith

If you’re a female, I hope at some point in your life you have had someone challenge you not to compare yourself to other women – especially in a way that tears you down or causes you to feel superior to others. Growing up in the church, as a young woman I heard it every other week it seemed. And it’s a great message, applicable in almost every category of life, and often a culprit when we find envy, anxiety, or pride bubble up in our hearts.

Comparison is a heart habit I’ve spent a great deal of my life beating down. The circumstances were different – beauty, brains, capability, athleticism, personality, confidence – and the people encouraging me away from it range from peers to mentors. Today, to a good friend, I said, ‘you’d think I’ve have it handled it by now.’

Lately, comparison isn’t handicapping me in relation to appearance or hobbies, but in loving God.

Like many I’m sure who will read this, my insides are whirring with feelings, doubts, ideas, desires, and Truth. Things we want to do, ways we wish we were doing better, sin we’re burying (or trying to battle), worries about circumstances, wondering if we’re on God’s path, etc. Right? Comparison has stolen a good bit of freedom and joy in God from me lately because I’m believing my loving Him must look the same as someone else, or even as it looked for me 2 years ago.

The same friend from earlier shared a story of a conversation between she and her son. He was basically saying the 10 commandments was a lot to keep up with and remember. She encouraged him with the two greatest commandments Jesus gives us, where “all the Law and the Prophets hang on” them:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

His words: this is the first and greatest commandment.

Not a particular Bible-reading method, or copying another’s habit of prayer, or being able to teach a class on the book of Exodus, or going to a popular exercise class, or never watching Netflix, or not reading as much as I used to because my schedule is more full, or attending every ministry activity no matter how tired you are.

Okay, so those are random, particular, possibly extreme examples. But I think Holy Spirit is prompting me to consider the why more important than the what or the how.

Comparison will take a friend’s story about how she felt the presence of God while she tended to her children and distort the gratitude I could feel into insecurity that maybe my faith isn’t strong enough.

Comparison will take someone’s Biblical encouragement or teaching and distort the excitement over Scripture I could feel into guilt I’m not studying it enough.

Comparison will take a pastor or author I admire sharing the peace and confidence they have in God and distort the joy in God I could feel into shame for not being as disciplined or mature or strong as they are.

I could continue writing scenarios, right? Maybe some come to your mind. I am in the middle of this, and I think it boils down to one thing — Jesus’ first and greatest commandment to me, to us, is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. My heart, soul, and mind are continuously changing — prompted by unexpected circumstances, tempted by sin, renewed by the Bible, challenged by Holy Spirit. My loving God can look different, from year to year, or month to month, and from everyone else, but it’s the loving Him with all that I am that matters.

When my faith is weak or strong, when I’m tired and only want to numb with distractions, when I’m full and pouring myself out, when I’m happy in Him and when I’m prone to wander… love God. What am I saying to Him? How am I loving Him? How am I showing Him I genuinely like Him? How often am I thanking Him? What is He seeing in me?

At first blush, maybe considering the why more important than the what or how looks like this…

In the morning before I get out of bed, and all throughout the day, telling my Father I love Him, and asking for the help and heart to love Him even more, no matter how it looks or what I’m doing.

A recent article by Scott Hubbard had two statements I consider profound:

You may lose yourself when you give yourself up to Christ, but only those parts of yourself that deserve to be lost.

We begin to discover that we become most us when we forget about ourselves and become consumed with him. We will discover that we are happiest when we care least about how unique we are, or what sort of personality we have. We would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, gazing upon his face, than hold a mirror to our own in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

Comparing my how and my what to others conditions my eyes to fix on them or myself, and hardly ever on God. In my experience, comparison fuels self-reliance by putting on unnecessary not-from-God pressure to always do more and be better. Comparison handicaps the practice of allowing God to inform our being and our life, and puts in its place our own understanding, paving the road for habits that don’t prompt worship of God like pride, doubt, or insecurity.

So.. what if for a little while things were simpler? If my greatest life is found in loving God and people, then whenever the ‘how’ or ‘what’ changes and shifts, there will be grace upon grace, because I’ll be met with His love all. the. time. He is enough. He is worth it. He ultimately satisfies.

His kingdom come. His will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).

How might the habit of comparing be influencing your relationship with others or with God?

(P.S. Photo explanation: My husband works in the timber industry. Nice tag, Georgia Forestry Association. I like it.)

Yielding The Power Of Your Tongue

Posted in faith

The phrase bursts from your lips like a bull through a rodeo gate. The self-conscious part of you longs to take it back the passionate part of you is racing to form your next thought.

You launch into a detailed story about yourself, with every intention of “relating” to the friend sitting across from you in the crowded coffee shop, only to see them respond in hurt. They soon leave feeling discouraged, wrestling with life and saddened by your seeming lack of genuine care.

It’s late afternoon. Your friend sits dazed in the passenger seat, because it’s been 45 minutes in the car and you haven’t taken a breath, unloading details about the week you’ve had.

You enter a crowded room, full of socializing strangers, and you can’t seem to control the long train of words racing down track out of your mouth. You’re anxious, hoping the words rambling off your tongue mask your insecurity.

You don’t realize until they’re 14 years old how much your children are affected by your verbal discontent with your body, home, or job. You begin hearing your opinions come out of their mouths, and you long for a reset.

Do you find yourself landing on one side of dialogue more than the other?

If there is one powerful element to life that is underestimated, it is our speech. The way we speak, the opinions we fancy, and the time we choose to speak have greater consequences than we realize. James charges us to “be quick to hear” and “slow to speak” (James 1:19-20).

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relationship practices for the holidays

Posted in relationships

Holidays. Family. All the gatherings.

Do you love the holiday season? I certainly do. The glow of the Christmas tree before the sun comes up. The retelling over and over of the story of Jesus’ entrance into the world. The snacks, the traditions, the music, the Christmas Wreath candles, the smiles over gifts.

Over Thanksgiving week, my husband and I spent every minute with family, close and extended, those who live in our town and those who traveled by plane. We engaged in a lot of meals and stories and celebrating. Since then, these practices (hopes, rather) have been rattling around in my mind. Already, I’m seeing how transformative they can be. Maybe one can be life-giving for you as well.

Love people exactly as/where they are.

We are all on different paths, maturing at varying paces, and interested in a gazillion different topics. Give those around your table the space and freedom to be fully themselves. Truthfully, this is sometimes challenging for my helper-fixer (enneagram 2w1) tendencies, but it produces a much lighter and enjoyable atmosphere. God is sovereign, I am not. God is Redeemer, I am not. God changes hearts, I do not. God is Lord, I am not. Because He is everywhere, I don’t have to be. I believe He is enough, so I don’t have to be. This is the environment for real joy and love, supporting others in who they are. (I confess, this is where I find myself praying, Holy Spirit, help, every other hour. #truth)

Speak truthfully, but graciously.

It’s healthy and normal to disagree or admit an opposing thought, and in my recent encounters, the key is to speak as graciously as possible. I’ve also found it beneficial to be a little vulnerable before I share a disagreeing or concerning opinion. Not only sharing why you might disagree, but the path that led you there (not just facts, but stories), can ease the tension and give the other person an authentic glimpse into your perspective. J and I have been practicing the art of interjecting Jesus into a conversation. Most often, He comes up because that’s what we’re most often thinking about, but sometimes particular situations feel more intimidating or awkward. Hallelujah, we can ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and courage, and He helps us.

Ask intentional questions of (although not exclusive to) those on the fringe. 

And let them talk 90% of the time. You know who I’m talking about: the family member you only see once a year, or a quiet friend, or the person who seems super stressed. Presence is often one of the sweetest gifts, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or overdone. Sneakily help with the dishes and ask your aunt about their childhood Christmases. Practice making your grandma’s favorite dessert with your cousin and ask what they’re hoping for in 2019. I have a few standout question askers in my life and I always leave them feeling a little more known and loved.

Be faithful with what is in your control, and release what isn’t to God.

This, my friends, should probably be #1 for me. My husband and I have this running joke. When he makes a suggestion aloud he’s simply brainstorming to the room, and when I hear it I seal it in my mind with an expectation. Then when the situation doesn’t happen like I thought it would, I’m bummed. This month, among the ins and outs of holiday plans and gatherings, I not only want to share with God particular hopes, but ask for help to reflect Him in the moment, and release the pressure of the outcome.

Partner with the Lord and be generous.

Time, chores, a phone call, the purchase of a gift, cooking a meal, sweeping the kitchen, all these things can be an extension of God’s love to our family and friends. We can ask the Lord to guide us, to reveal someone’s heart to us, to be our joy and energy, to give us words to encourage someone. Look for Him in the embrace of a family member, in the laughter of a friend, or even in a delicious meal. Inhale God’s presence, exhale pleasing everyone. Breathe in deeply His goodness, and breathe out gratitude. Rest in Him as your All, and cheerfully give.

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I always feel a little extra delighted to be a child of God at Christmastime. So if we can treat others in a way that introduces them into a deeper life with Him, I pray we will be faithful in it. It looks different for everyone. (And He promises to help us.)

Let’s love our people in a way that causes them to think about Jesus.

P.S. 2011 family photo to make you smile.