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Entries in Comparisons (2)

Tuesday
Jun132017

How To Run without Looking Back

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, I want to encourage readers to run the race of life wisely, and especially without looking back!

How are you running the race God gave you?"

Pause. Think. Read on.

I hated field hockey. As a junior high student, I didn't like anything about it—the endurance running (with my asthma), the craziness of scrambling after the ball, and especially all those swinging sticks!

But I remember one game in particular where I really blew it and suffered embarrassment for days.

My stance was fine, my Indian dribble fair, and my slap shots sufficient. But my coach repeatedly yelled, "Stay focused, Dawn. Quit looking back."

Pretty good advice considering I froze and looked back every time I heard the pounding of footsteps behind me. Whenever I had the ball "corraled" and girls rushed toward me from behind, I tended to spin around and get out of the way to avoid being run over!

My athletic sons would shake their heads in embarrassment if they could time-warp to see me back then.

One day, when the stampede of girls behind me once again scared me to death, I spun around, lost my footing and fell awkwardly, spraining an ankle and hitting my head. Sprawled on the grass, little birdies spun around my head, tweeting. (Back then, those were life's original "Tweets.")

Not exactly a star player.

I never really liked those wayward hockey sticks either. Or bruised knees (when players somehow missed my shin guards).

Like I said, I hated field hockey.

But that "looking back" thing? I still do it. In life.

I look back when I live with regrets, compare myself to others, or lose focus.

Life, unlike a field hockey game, isn't optional. And I don't want to stay stuck in fear. I want to grow in faith.

The Lord wants me to learn, grow and run my race well "to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).

So ... what am I DOING about that "looking back" problem?

1. I'm dealing with regrets biblically.

I know I can't go back for life re-dos. Looking back is fruitless except as I take my past to the Father and allow Him to redeem it (Isaiah 44:22).

When we confess our failings and leave them with the Lord, His forgiveness, mercy and grace allow us to move forward with God-confidence and fresh obedience (1 John 1:9).

The Lord will keep refining us as we run our race (Psalm 66:10; 1 Peter 1:7). It's His work, and He will perfect us (Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6).

2. I'm learning to compare myself only with Jesus.

My sidetracking temptation in playing field hockey was to idolize the best players. When I did that, there was never any real progress—at least not as far as I was concerned.

The truth is, my coach didn't want me to become Beth, Angie or Mary. He wanted me to be the best Dawn possible.

That's what the Lord wants for all of us too.

It's so easy in Christian circles to compare ourselves with women who have it "all together for Jesus," forgetting they have their own struggles—their own weaknesses, sometimes hidden beyond our view.

The Lord simply wants us to live in the ways and for the purposes He created us, all "to the praise of His glory."

Earthly comparisons are foolish (2 Corinthians 10:12). But finding out God's purposes and imitating Jesus in pursuing those purposes—that's wisdom.

3. I'm learning to focus on the Father's will.

  • The goal isn't to look back and regret what might have been.
  • The goal isn't to look around and constantly strive to be better than others.
  • The goal is to finish the race God sets before us in ways that please Him.

We will desire to be obedient. Holy. Wise. Purpose-driven. Loving and compassionate. Serving in kindness. And we will allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in us as we follow hard after the Lord.

The goal is to imitate Jesus and align ourselves with what our Father God is doing (John 5:19).

We accomplish this goal in the power of the Holy Spirit—not in our own strength, and certainly not with our own agenda (Zechariah 4:6; I Corinthians 2:4).

As Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, "Spiritual power is the divine energy God is willing to express in and through us and the divine authority needed to carry out the work God has called us to do... God will not place you into a position or ask you to accomplish a task for which He will not fully equip and enable you." *

So we are empowered, equipped and enabled; but our FOCUS is crucial.

The look is important:

  • Looking back, we'll stumble around in painful regret.
  • Looking around, we'll be distracted and hindered.
  • But looking forward and up toward the Lord, there is sure hope for progress in Christ.

Let's think more biblically, and run our race with a God-centered focus.

Running with wisdom, we're less likely to take a tumble!

Are you living with regrets? Comparing yourself to others? Unfocused or confused about the goal? Ask the Lord to help you clear direction from His Word and empower you to finish well.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Field Hockey graphic courtesty of keithjj, Pixabay

* Charles Stanley quote, here.

Thursday
Jan162014

A Surprising Way to Upgrade Your Sleep

I admire author Deedra Scherm for her dedication to family and the creativity she uses to teach and encourage her boys. This post about her choice not to compare herself with others is great advice for any woman, but especially moms with young children. They need encouragement … and sleep!

“This week I had a stranger make a comment to me about my kids,” Deedra said. “It’s not uncommon. I get several each week.”

I know Deedra’s mom, Dennie, and this young “apple” doesn’t fall far from Mama Tree! They both are creative and love children. But I digress. Deedra has some simple, profound wisdom that can make a difference!

She continues …

You see, we decided to start homeschooling our three young boys (ages four, six and eight) this year. So they are with me every day. All day. All. The. Time. Don’t stop reading! This won’t be a homeschool vs. private school vs. public school debate.

I was at the store picking up a few things, when the boys asked if they could look at the greeting cards. After a morning of teaching, my to-do list, and my lack of sleep the night before due to lesson planning … everything in me wanted to say, “No!  Keep on moving!” But I try to be a cool mom. 

Soooooo, I told them “Yes!” What followed were a few minutes of grabbing cards, extremely loud fall-on-the-ground laughing, and a whole bunch of, “Hey!  You’ve got to read this!” yelled back and forth. 

There was a woman who came up behind me as I was half slumped on my shopping cart. After watching for a few moments, she said, “You must really sleep well at night.”

Yes. Yes, I usually do.

But there are nights I don’t.  And the reason isn’t a lack of tiredness. 

Have you ever had those nights where you get in bed and your mind seems to go and go, replaying all the things you could have done or should have done? Visions of how much better life would be if you could just be more organized, eat a better diet, yell less at your kids, exercise more or even dress better?

Comparison is not hard to accomplish. It’s easy to look at the pictures our friends post on Facebook and feel less than good enough. 

I see homeschool families with all their kids sitting at the table together (all at once—can you imagine?) They’re doing some amazing craft project that I could never put together. I see other mothers (who have more kids than I do) tanned and toned and dressed in a size four. I see posts of women who have traveled to other countries building wells, tending to the sick, and rescuing orphans!

It’s easy to feel less than enough. But you don’t have to stay there, in a place of “I wish I could be more like that.” 

You could do what my friend Katie does.  I had to #LOL when she tweeted, “When I feel down about myself … I just watch an episode of “Hoarders” and then I don’t think I’m that bad.” 

Funny, but there is a better way. I’d like to share with you some things that have helped me kick the habit of bad comparison.

1. Rejoice!

Yes!  You should rejoice because God has created you wonderfully!  In Psalm 139:14 it says,  “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….”  When you feel less-than, stop and give thanks to God for how He made you. 

Just as Esther was created for “such a time as this,” you were also created for this exact moment.  God knew what your strengths and weaknesses would be, what your personality would be and the resources you would have at this time. He gave you the children, husband, job, neighbors and the family you have. God hasn’t missed one detail of your life, and you were created wonderfully for it. Rejoice that He will work it all for good!

2. Refocus! 

God doesn’t want you to focus on the business of others. I love this little tucked-away verse in John 21 where Peter ask Jesus about circumstances with one of the other disciples, and Jesus says to him in verse 22, “… what is that to you? You follow Me!” 

When you see a Facebook post that makes you feel envious or frustrated, or when you are with someone who seems to have it all together and makes you feel less-than, it’s time to change directions. When you feel like focusing on what others are doing, stop yourself and say, “What is that to me?” and refocus on what God has called YOU to do today.

3. Release!

Take a moment to release the negative pressure you put on yourself. Reflect on the fact that God is responsible for making things “perfect”…not you. Stop worrying that you have to do more or be more in order to make everything work out. Philippians 1:6 says,  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  

Even in the midst of a struggle, you are promised that God will continue to work in you to work things out. You can trust Him! Keep recalling this verse to mind until you can release the outcome of your circumstances into the loving hands of Jesus.

Rejoice ... refocus ... and release! It might not be a lullaby, but it sure helps me sleep better at night!

Which of these three tips for upgrading sleep is the most challenging for you today? What choice can you make to change that?

Deedra Scherm lives in Dallas with her husband and three boys. Between homeschooling and writing, she's on constant watch out for "parents night out" so she and her hubby can get one of bookthose things called a date night. You can find her best selling book, The ABC Bible Verse Book,  and other books and DVDs at lemonvision.com or at  amazon.com