The Age of Comparison: Or How To Reject The Temptation to Do What Everyone Else is Doing

The pressure to "do what you love" is at an all time high.

Just "follow your dreams" we all tell each other.

Make a website. Change the world one kickstarting, water well at a time.

But how long can our self-gratifying, do-goodedness keep us feeling warm and fuzzy? To what end will our efforts continue if only to change with the next bandwagon that comes along?

We live in a world driven by fear. Duh! Even our walk with Christ begins, and ends, with fear. But a Godly fear is unlike the world knows fear. Side note: I still don't totally grasp how the two are different. I only know that one leads us to wisdom while the other leads us to folly.

So then how do we learn to move past the selfish fears we have that keep us in safe places? How do we find the boldness to explore the unknown? I'm finding that we can't do it alone. We weren't made to be individuals. However much we want to believe that we are special and unique, it just isn't the whole truth. I am like you in more ways than I am different. I am the annoying little voice in your head that says I am no good. I am the sleepless walk to my daughter's bedroom at 3 in the morning when she won't sleep. I am the cold and freezing air that bites your face to the end of the driveway to take the trash out. I put my pants on one leg at a time.

When it comes down to it we need those around us who will lift us back up when we fall, who will call us on our shit when we're not acting right, and who will, above all, love us in action and truth. We weren't made to be together to compare ourselves, we were made to live together in the hopes that we would share each other's burdens and celebrate each other's victories. This is the only way I know how to move past selfishness and really do what it is I love.

On Faith - Doubt

I've asked this question of myself a lot lately; "What do I really know?" On any given day, I feel like I only really know about a handful of things:

1. Wake up

2. Drink coffee

3. Work too much

4. Change a diaper or two

5. Lack grace for myself and others

But it seems to me that I'm in the perfect place. I mean, who really feels like they know it all anyways? I wonder if Jesus ever felt like He knew it all? I remember reading somewhere that He only did what he saw His Father doing. And that's all I really want to do. But most of the time I feel like I'm stumbling around in a thick fog waiting to see what's next. And that's when I can start to doubt the goodness and faithfulness of God. Because if it isn't happening right now it feels like it never will. Damn you, instant gratification!

Doubt can be a serious crutch for the creative person. Speaking to myself here. As one who is intuitively feeling and judging, I am prone to feelings of rejection and failure. You can stay in this place, feeling like you can only create out of a place of hurt and pain, but it will hinder you. Self-pity confuses who you are with what you do. Always striving to prove yourself. I know because I've been there before a million times. Where do you think that saying, "starving artist", comes from? It's not just about food, but starving for one's own identity. We flounder around like fish out of water. Desperate for the water to fill our lungs again. We try to douse ourselves with the praise of others or the fleeting success of our work, but it always dries up.

Doubt can also be a powerful tool. I believe that doubt is just as important in our walk with God as faith is. The two are more complimentary than we think. I have a hard time believing that God created man, and woman, to respond to Him without questions. If we never allow ourselves to question our faith then how do we expect to find answers? Just look at Jesus' own disciples as the perfect example. They were always asking Jesus to explain himself, and when He spelled it out for them they still seemed confused. I'm sure at one point or another we have all stood there feeling even more frustrated by the truth in front of us.

I find it comforting to know that in my doubts I can still have faith.

God didn't create all of this beauty only to leave us frustrated. He has come to set us back in our right place. To create an order out of the chaos. I don't have to know it all to trust the one who does. I don't have to see the end from the beginning to believe the one who can. And I don't have to conjure up some enormous amount of faith only to fool myself, and others, that I've got it all figured out. If faith is a gift then let's choose to believe that great things really do come in small packages.

Be Still

Sometimes, not often enough I feel, I get this stirring in my soul to write. Maybe it's only after I've walked through trials of my own and come out the other side that I only feel I have something smart to say. I don't know. But, what I do know is that in the midst of so much information on the internet today it's easy to give up before you even start. And if the past two years have taught me anything, it's this: life can only be lived one day at a time. So breath in deep the breathe that God has blessed us all with and don't worry about tomorrow, for today has enough troubles of its own. On another note. Today I received an envelope in the mail from my local Postmaster. Enclosed in said envelope was half, okay not even half, of a torn up check from one of my clients that somehow got lost within the great mystery that is the United States Postal Service. The check itself was already two weeks, but that's not the part the baffles me. On the back of this envelope, in a very informal tone, is printed 5 short paragraphs apologizing for the damage to my mail and how they know how important my mail is and blah, blah, blah.

But here's what I really wish to share with you. My gut instinct was to drive straight to the Post Office and give them a very big piece of my mind. I mean, who are THEY to mess with ME? Right? Does this sounds familiar to anyone else? And then it happened, The Lord very softly spoke to the storm upon the horizon of my soul and said, "Be Still." Who am I to judge another human being for something that was out of their control? Who am I to think that I deserve to have my mail delivered on a gold platter? Exactly, I am one that is called to extend forgiveness freely just as I am freely forgiven. I am one that is called to judge not, lest I be judged.

So this holiday season when you feel like you've been dealt an unjust hand, I urge you to step back and ask yourself: Who am I? And I pray that the love of The Father washes over you and speaks to your heart with the same gentle affection, Be Still.

Just enough

Why do we ask for just enough from the God who desires to give us all of who He is? Didn't Jesus teach us a better way to pray? Read Matthew chapter 6 and you'll see an example of prayer that doesn't ask for just enough, but instead asks for the very will of God to be done. A prayer that invites the Kingdom of God to come, here on earth as it is in Heaven. That doesn't sound like just enough, that sounds like everything we will ever need and more.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of just enough. I desire all that God has for me.

The Fog

Have you ever driven through thick fog before? I'm talking the really big fat heavy fog. The kind that makes you worry maybe you're the last person alive. This is where I feel I've been mentally the past few months. Just kind of wandering around without knowing where I am. But it wasn't until today that my eyes were opened to just how beautiful this foggy season of life really is.

Now, take that same big, fat fog and get out of your car. Suddenly you start to realize that everything is almost dreamlike. The ordinary has become beautiful. There is a certain mystery in the air that causes you to feel overwhelmed. It's all so breathtaking. Your heart is excited.

This is a much better place to be in the midst of the unknown. A place of holy expectation and gratitude. Just because we can't see doesn't mean He doesn't know. God does not hide the world in fog to confuse or scare us, but he covers the ground in fog for us to be in awe and be witness to His all-encompassing beauty.

So if you, like me, don't feel like you know what's right in front of you, take heart. There is comfort in knowing that God has not forsaken us, and more than that He is calling us to himself through the thickness of the fog.

Heart Space

Why does it so often feel that our life in Christ is stumbling over rocks more than walking on water? Have you ever wondered why we still experience doubt as born again believers? And why would God, the great I AM, allow us to suffer through all these emotions? I'm convinced we're a people who live entirely too much out of our head space rather than our heart space. Knowledge isn't a bad thing, but it isn't the only thing worth seeking. Do you think it took all of Peter's gut wrenching courage or book smarts to step out of that boat and walk on the water? Yeah, me too. But trusting your heart isn't any easy task. Especially when we have verses like this thrown at us from the pulpit:

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

I don't question this verse, I believe it holds truth in its proper context. But I also believe that after we accept Christ he begins to change our hearts through the power of His Holy Spirit. Not to say that in an instant all our past heartaches and troubles are over. But I can say from my own life experiences I have begun the journey to take back ground in my own heart. From sex to work to love God has moved mountains in my heart. The following verse has been a consistent prayer of mine for many years now:

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

When it comes to living more from our hearts I don't think there's anything to do but find/create space to be still. Embrace the moments of quiet space you have every day, and work to create some new quiet spaces in your life. Fight through the urge to "do" something when all you need is only to rest and trust. Don't be scared of doubt and fear, as those are totally natural to us humans. Arm yourself with Hope and fill your cup with living water. This, I believe, is how we become more in tune with our hearts. And over time our hearts will learn the drown out the distractions around us and focus solely on the One who created it.

Friday Food for Thought P3

Welcome back to my irregularly scheduled blog post series. By the time you read this I will hopefully be up to my eyeballs in freshwater trout. I am writing this prior to my fly-fishing camping trip this weekend. But I've had a lot on my mind lately and don't like going for long periods without sorting out my thoughts. So here goes nothing.

Things Are Changing

For those who haven't heard, I am stepping back from full-time work with Over. It was a mutual decision, but one that I ultimately believe is the best step forward. I will continue contracting with them for the next 3 months, but I will no longer be in charge of creative direction for the app itself. I wish the team all the best.

Our house has now been on the market for a whole week. The anticipation and faith required in this season of life is truly great. But, I for one, am always excited by the challenges of the unforeseen. I've really felt more empowered lately to just trust God, I mean like really trust Him. There's a certain point you reach where you know you've done all that God has required of you and then it's totally up to Him. Now we just get to watch and see what happens next.

My wife has felt our baby move a few times, me not so much. I tried keeping my hand on her belly the other night to see if I couldn't feel anything... nothing. Patience is a virtue though. So we continue on in the planning of parenthood. I really enjoy getting to watch my wife grow into a new mother. There is a certain beauty to it all that's hard to explain. Sometimes I look at her and it's like I'm seeing her for the first time again. This is definitely a season I don't take for granted.

Things I'm Challenged By

If you truly love something let it go. Don't be afraid to fail. Just sit down and do the work.

All of these things swirl around my head. They are good sayings, inspiring even. But what does it mean to me in the next season of life? Sure, it's easy enough to go in to default mode of what I know I can do, but I would much rather feel what I should do. Really it comes down to being quite and learning to listen to my heart. The last thing I want to do is make the "safe" decision.

Words. Words are never enough. The word "love" is never going to change anything without legs to walk and arms to hold and mouths to kiss. I feel like the same is true with work. The word itself is good and noble, but never does any good without breaking a sweat. I'm finding it really difficult in this season to draw upon a newness in my work. It just feels like I've been labeled as one thing, and so I should just stick to that. When really I feel like I have so much more to offer.

Things That Inspired Me

The pursuit of anything worth pushing past your own (dis)abilities. A smile. Belly aching laughter. Delicious dark chocolate. The smell of a campfire. The great outdoors. A day of rest.