Originally published Monday, 25 November 2013.
When I think of Ann Voskamp, I think of beautiful, poetry-like writing that stirs emotions deep within and points my heart to God. I leave her writing longing not for more "Ann", but for more of God.
When I read Kristen's blog, my heart is drawn to love the poor, especially young girls who are becoming mothers too soon in Kenya.
When I read Emily's blog, her words are like artfully mastered brush strokes on canvas. After reading her words, I start to notice art all around me.
When I read The Nester's blog, I see that imperfection in my home can be beautiful. Her amazingly decorated rooms feel comfortable, and never untouchable.
I know that each of these bloggers has found her "place". She has tapped into the uniqueness of her own life, specially designed by God Almighty, the Creator. To know your place, and to feel comfortable in your unique calling is something that has always escaped me.
I just don't know...
I have no idea what makes me unique, if anything. I'm just being honest. I am totally and overwhelmingly lost in a crowd.
That's how it feels, anyway.... you?
Then, it starts. Instead of looking only to God, I start to look around to others. I realize that because I can't pinpoint my unique place in the blogging world, that maybe God doesn't want me to blog. Maybe this is just a silly hobby that I have decided to do without considering whether it's from Him. So, I pray and ask for His guidance.
"God, why would you design me with a love of writing? Why do you make my heart burn words that will never escape my lips and only feel comfortable being poured from my heart through typing keystrokes? I've always felt like writing was a gift from you, but is it? Is this love of writing from you or is it just me? I've decided to just quit writing because I don't have a little five step plan of twenty precise goals you want me to accomplish. I'm floundering here."
... and then, since He knows my heart, I figure I might as well be totally honest.
"God, it's just that.... well... everyone else seems to have it all together, and I'm a hot mess".
Can you say "hot mess" in prayer? I hope so.
Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel like everyone else has their "thing" figured out, and you are just a hot mess trying to take a shower at least every other day and act like your head is above water (even when you feel like you're drowning)?
"What's it to you?"
I have never heard God speak aloud, but as I pray, my heart is reminded of a verse I just read about the Apostle Peter. After Jesus rose from the dead, He fixed breakfast for the disciples, which is pretty amazing in itself. Can you imagine being served breakfast by the risen Messiah?! After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter always replied, that yes, of course he loves Jesus. Jesus replied each time "feed my sheep".
Then, Peter and Jesus had this amazing exchange that I had never noticed. In fact, I had to go back and re-read it again. It says in John 21:
"I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God.
Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
Peter was looking in the very face of the Messiah. The One who was tortured, crucified, and had risen from the dead.
And what did Peter do?
He compared himself to another disciple.
Yep, he did. Right there in front of Jesus. I think that's why I love Peter so much. He didn't pretend to have it all together, and was perfectly fine with transparently showing when he was a hot mess.
"What about him, Lord?"
What about that other blogger, Lord? What about the one with the book deal? What about the one with half a trillion blog subscribers? What about the lady in the supermarket with the perfect hair and exquisite wardrobe? What about the mother in church with the well-mannered, perfectly behaved, obedient children? What about them, Lord?
... and then I can hear His reply.
"What is that to you, Melanie?"
Instead of looking all around me, and wanting to just quit when I can't measure up, I am learning that I just need to look in His eyes. I just need to seek Him, and He will take my offering -- whether it is my writing, parenting, work, marriage, money -- and use it the way He has planned for my life. What God has planned for someone else adds nothing to or takes nothing away from what He has planned for me.
Are you with me on that?
Are you feeling like you want to give up? Are you comparing yourself to others? May I just whisper one thing that is helping me? When I compare myself to another and say "well, so-and-so is doing this great thing", I just have to remember "What is that to you?".
And maybe this is where Thanksgiving starts. In being content with where we are. In not knowing the plan. In being totally dependent on God's direction and strength. In being a hot mess on our knees.
There's no sin in asking the questions. However, it's what we do with the answer that matters. I am praying for a more content heart, and one that doesn't compare itself to others. I am praying for God's direction, and obeying His "follow me" order even when I don't know where we are going.
Especially when I don't know where we are going.
So, I'll keep writing, even if only two people read it. I'll keep encouraging, because maybe those two people are the ones that I am called to encourage. There is no task too small because God likes to take a motley crew of ordinary people to do His extraordinary work.
Will you walk along with me? And sweet friend, if you are struggling with the comparison trap, jump out and join me in the truth of contentment.