Comparison is Lethal, Celebrate Instead

I will never forget the late night when I was dozing off in bed and Scott said these dreadful words, “What’s the worst thing I could tell you right now?” A surge of adrenaline had me sitting straight up, wide-awake responding, “You’re having an affair?” He chuckled, “NO! I got laid off today.” Biggest sigh of relief ever, because in my mind, losing his job I could deal with, an affair…devastating. So, I don’t think that was his ploy in sharing the bad news, but it worked because after I let my mind go there, I could totally deal with the idea of job loss. At that point, we decided as a couple that he would pursue his dream of writing. He’d already been writing in the evenings. He’d also had a quadruple by-pass a few years before, which significantly changed our perspective on the future. I had the bright idea that he should pursue his dream while I would be the breadwinner. My family (even today) think that's bizarre and some of them even say so. But I live with him and know how hard he works to write stories, homeschool our daughter and remodel The Barn. I believe in our church’s motto that “We give up something we love, for something we love even more.” So, while I support Scott’s pursuit of his dream, sometimes I question why he has yet to publish a book. I even question God, out loud, “God, if You are all-powerful, surely You can make this happen?” I am pretty sure this is me mocking God. As Francis Chan says, "Christians have amnesia." I forget His timing is perfect and does not conform to my plans. Ha!

This past month does mark exciting times in the lives of two of our family’s friends. A year ago I might, no, not might, but would have whined to the Lord, “Why can’t Scott sell a book? He works so hard. I work so hard. Why, God?” But I called that what it was, sin. And after one of those painful growing periods, I moved past the sin. Now, I’m celebrating their success because (1) they’ve worked hard too and we aren’t the only ones with BIG dreams; (2) their message of Truth is powerful and impactful; and (3) their success makes me believe it is still possible for us. Shouldn’t success come in threes?

Over a decade ago, we used to “act” in our church’s hellhouse each October. Brent McCorkle, was the quintessential Jesus actor.  “He looks just like Jesus!” the scared-to-salvation viewers would exclaim after seeing him resurrected at the end. He really was perfect for the part. He went on to pursue his lifelong dream—a film career, which we followed and rooted for. His directorial debut, Unconditional, hit theaters and hearts this past September. Personally, it helped propel me out of the funk I was in at school. I’d been having a rough start to this academic year and was cranky blah, blah, blah. This film reminded me why I do what I do as a public educator. I change the lives of kids and that’s pretty significant.

Our close friend Kyle Sherman is also enjoying an exciting milestone with the release of his album Hear Me on iTunes and in stores. I love this quote from his website: “Kyle’s life demonstrates what can happen when our timing is set aside for God’s timing.” Kyle and his sweet family have been pursuing this dream for the past decade, this did not occur overnight.

The point of this post is two-fold, first to shamelessly promote our buddies’ endeavors, but also to share my “recovery” from jealousy. Conviction first came from Beth Moore’s Bible study James. In week one, day four she discusses how comparison is lethal! It slapped me upside the head because I was doing this, comparing others’ success to our own, and I was toxic. Moore says:
“We talk as those who believe God is omnipotent and omnipresent, but we often act as if he can only work through one person, one method, or one kind of ministry at a time. If we don’t refuse ourselves the indulgence [of comparison], we can lapse into the mentality of a spoiled child who thinks that, if God shows [my friends] favor, He must hate me.”

Yep, I was that spoiled child stuck in a trap. Moore had us personalize Galatians 2:8, “God who is at work in the ministry of _____ as a servant to _______, is also at work in my ministry as a servant to ________.” God is BIG enough to do both!! I’m so thankful the Lord used her study to help me along the way so that I can now stand here in a place of celebration instead of comparison.

So, Scott, Brent and Kyle as you continue to pursue your dreams, as one who writes, as one who directs, as one who sings—remember I Peter 4 verses 10 and 11 (NASB): “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

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