Do you ever find yourself looking at someone else and thinking, Man, Christianity–this whole relationship-with-God thing–looks so good on her? Outwardly, you’re trying to actually feel joy and happiness for her, because she seems to get it. But really, you’re pretty annoyed. Like, she makes it looks easy. Effortless, even. Her screw ups are probably minuscule compared to my own.
Can we step back for a moment? I know, I’m asking a lot from you as a reader. But I promise you this is ridiculously important.
When I was a new wife, I was in the bliss of marriage and a new pregnancy. I felt unstoppable, in that, there didn’t seem to be much missing from my life. It was blissful. It was a joyous time. I was actually only a year or two out of being a teenager, and I truly wanted to appear like I had my life figured out. Plus I had a great church. And we had just bought our first house. I even worked at a job that challenged my faith in great ways. See, blissful and joyous.
I was actually comparing myself to every other woman, mom, and mom-to-be. I was looking at other non-pregnant women and thinking about how they must feel so well-rested while I felt like an exhausted sea lion. I overlooked every woman who might have wanted to be my friend because I wanted to perfect the way my life looked more than invest in letting people see me and my life in all of its imperfect glory. I saw the “competition” and thought, Jesus and motherhood look so good on her. Effortless. Joyful. Truly, I was so annoyed that she looked more complete than me.
I didn’t see what I was doing when I was doing it. I didn’t hate anyone, I never wanted anyone to not succeed. I just never wanted to get vulnerable and honest about it, because no one stepped up and did that for me. I don’t blame anyone but myself. I could’ve been the first one. Instead, I waited for years. Just long enough for what seemed like the “right time”. I see it now: the right time was the exact moment when I looked at other women as my competitors.
Step back for a minute. That woman who intimidates you with her powerful love for Jesus and joy? What if we wiped away your preconceived notions about her? That freedom you long for–the freedom that means you don’t have to worry about what anyone thinks of you–what if we grasped the truth that that freedom is not out of reach for you? You think confidence resides in the outfit you wear and the way your kids behave in public–can we put that to bed right now? Can we clean off our slates and get rid of our comparisons, fears, and whatever is making us say, “But…” or “Yeah, but, what if…”? Let’s do that. Right now. Shed it. Get rid of it.
Okay, so, if none of these fears exist, if none of our concerns about confidence, intimidation, or comparison are in our face, how does this change us? What kind of women do we become when we aren’t competitors?
I see my friend across the room–who is now my friend, mind you, because remember? I shed my fear of thinking about how she is such an amazing woman of God–and I go up to her and give her a hug and tell her that I am grateful for her. I see Jesus in her. And her presence, here in this room, is calling me up to step it up a notch. To meet Jesus where He is calling me, which is right next to this awesome woman.
What is it that we can afford? What kind of women can we afford to be, if we’re women who claim Christ as our King?
I can afford to be a woman who gives Jesus just enough for it to be called a relationship with Him. I can afford to keep my same friends close, to only get real with those who actually know me. I can afford to be lukewarm about a Jesus I love because I don’t have much to risk. I have so much comfort, I could be lounging in a room of pillows.
You know who can’t afford that? This world, and all the women in it. Maybe you can afford to give just a little bit, but the women who are standing in your church or in your workplace are standing there, looking around, might be thinking, Look at her. Look at how poised she is. She seems to love Jesus. I wonder what that must be like. You can afford to be lackluster because you’ve already taken the leap of faith. Now that you’re on the other side, it’s easy to live each day as if you have the world as your playground, and the other women are just comparisons, competition, and intimidation. But there are women who see you, friend. They wonder what is different about your life. And would you believe me if I said that they want to clear off their slate, just as much as you?
Let’s do that again. Get rid of your preconceived notions about that woman. The one you know or the one you don’t, the one who definitely doesn’t care about Jesus, and the one who does. You know who she is to Jesus? A precious daughter. He shed blood for her. She is worth more to Him than anything on this earth, just as you are worth more to Him than anything on this earth.
You only think you can afford to be a woman who holds faith like a handbag, but I can promise you are not. You are that woman. The one who has a faith that can make the world say, Man, faith in Jesus looks so good on her. Because it’s on you. His blood is on you, sister. You have a name to uphold, and it is not your own.
Let’s take our slates, one more time. Let’s just throw those out the window. There are women in your life right now who are waiting for your vulnerability. They’re waiting for you to call them up, to join them, to rally with them, and to step this all up a few more notches. You can do that. You know why? Because you can afford to.
If you can afford to cross a room and risk the reputation of your own name for a King who already sees Himself in you, why wouldn’t you? And what are you waiting for?
Slates out the window. Preconceived notions trampled on the floor. Comparisons disintegrated. What kind of woman are you going to be today? And what woman are you going to befriend because of it?