Eyes on Your Own Paper: The Comparison Game

9:52 AMHeather

Don't you remember the angst of adolescence when you wanted to know what other people were doing before you made your own plan?

The homecoming dance.  Okay, who is going?  Then, I will decide.

What are YOU going to wear? Important to know for decision making.

The teen years seem wrought with comparison.  Going along with the crowd.  Not wanting to stick out or be different.  

Um, or maybe that's the adult years?  I get them confused.  Because it's hard when you are the last to get married.  Or to have a baby.  Or you consider the glamorous lives of others and it makes your life seem so dull.  

Perhaps its group fitness activities, oh say, like an early morning boot camp, when you realize that you can't do the same number of burpees as the girls next to you.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

We seem to spend our lives sitting at our desks with our eyes wandering to the paper of our neighbors.  I can nearly hear the voice of certain teachers from my past screeching, "Eyes on your own paper!"


This whole bent of our human nature is only fueled with the fires of social media and modern technology.  Where, at a moment's notice, we realize that so-and-so is on some fabulous vacation while we are cleaning up dog throw up.  Or, those other moms planned some amazing Easter activities and family fun.  While we went to worship and came home and did a whole lotta nada the rest of the day.  Oh and wait a minute...those pins on Pinterest tell me that a friend is planning and plotting something big while I am just hoping to get to Friday.

Yep.  We expend a great deal of energy considering what others are up to.  Measuring sticks and plumb lines set through instant information.  It can leave us feeling that our lives and our plans pale in comparison.  

I read THIS during my Bible reading this morning.  And, oh, the freedom this truth has to offer for each of us.

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave ME to do.
John 17:4 NIV

I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned ME to do.
John 17:4 The Message 

This is part of Jesus' prayer in the garden, just before He is arrested.  He is telling His Father that He brought glory to God by completing the work that HE was given to do. Not the work for John the Baptist or the tasks the multitudes hoped for in wishing for a military king who would conquer their enemies.

Nope.  The hard work of listening intently to His father's call and staying so close to Him that He spoke His Father's words.  Obeying His Father's leading.  Even to the point of surrendering his own life in a horrific death.

In other words, we bring glory to our Father by completing the work that HE gives US to do. We all have our own unique task lists.  Yet, we can get so caught up in looking at others' papers. Then we either don't complete our own work or we miss the joy in doing so.

Listen, if you are married, then part of the work you were given by your Father is be the spouse that your partner needs.  To love and cherish and support and serve them and affirm them on their own journey of faith.  If you are a mom, by birth or adoption or fostering, then the work He gave YOU to do is to care for those children.

Yes, dear bloggy mom friends.  Your work on earth is indeed filling up sippy cups, wiping little bums, answering a zillion questions, cleaning up baby puke, and collapsing from the fatigue of the mundane.  It may not be glamorous, but it's the work He gave you on earth.  

I was just emailing with a friend this morning about the upcoming Swap and Shop.  She was offering kind words about how she could never organize such an event. 

Um, HELLO!  She is a very talented singer and actress who offers her gifts and time at church and community theater.  I could never do THAT.

But it's the perfect example of embracing our own work and doing it well.  It's the work our Father gave US and we bring Him glory when we just do it.  Whether that means traveling the globe to sing or act or speak or care for orphans.  Or never leaving your home state and being willing to do the little things.

My husband's Mamaw was such a beautiful example of this Scripture--this call to do the work we are given to do.  Head to the plow, full steam ahead.

She helped her parents on their farm while growing up.  She cared for her siblings and helped her mom run the household.  She graduated valedictorian of her class of 17 seniors at Ponder High School.  She worked hard as a telephone operator.  Married the love of her life and waited patiently as he served in World War II.  Tried for years to have babies, enduring multiple miscarriages.  Tried to adopt, and then got pregnant.  Denied the twins that were to be hers when she notified the adoption agency of her pregnancy.  Cared for and prayed for her baby girl who was born needing a risky surgery she may not survive.  Poured herself into mothering her daughter and helping raise her nieces when they needed her help, living with her for months at a time.  Took in and cared for aging parents and in-laws in her 800 square foot home.  Loved her grandson and poured herself into his care as needed.  Served at church.  Woke up at 4:00 am to fix a hot breakfast for her husband before his early morning factory shift.  Worked.  And worked.  And worked.  With love and grace and without complaint.

She was not famous.  She was not rich.  But, she found joy in completing the work that she was given.  And that set her apart.  That made her amazing.  That brought glory to God.

Herein lies our challenge.  To stop and consider what work we've been given.  Here's some clues to uncover your assigned work.  Who has God placed in your life?  And how can you love and serve them?  What dreams and hopes and plans do we have?  Ask God to show us which of those translate to the work He has for us?  What gifts and talents and passions do you have?  Pray about how to channel them, according to His leading. Then, just jump off the boat and do it.

Most importantly--learn to free yourself from the trap of comparison.  Consider where and how you get messages that make you feel defeated or less than.  Cut these things out!  That may mean deleting the Facebook app from your phone.  Or avoiding Pinterest.  Or avoiding certain television shows or books or magazines.  Instead, dive into the truth of His Word and spend time in prayer to ask Him about the work He has for YOU.  Ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you as you seek to complete God's assigned workload so that you bring HIM glory. 

We all have our very own race to run.  Our path will not look like that of others.  Neither will our pace.  Chances are, the work you are given on earth will be hard and tedious and mundane much of the time.  But this does not diminish the fact that this work is indeed glory work.

Glory work.  Pointing others toward your Father.  It has eternal value.  Diving into your own task list, your own talents, your own calling.  And doing it to completion.  To bring Him glory and thus point others to Him.  Keeping your eyes on your own paper.  Ignoring the crowd or trends or the culture.  

Just running, with all your might, the pathway He has for you.  Remembering that completing the work He gives you in each day is indeed, glory work.

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