When I was in elementary/middle school we didn't do nearly as much writing as kiddos do today in their classrooms. I liked to do it though. I wrote stories all the time and they were crazy. I remember writing one about cowboys that were attacked and killed by their horses. As a horsie lover that saw movies where cowboys spurred and whipped their horses to make them go faster, this story made perfect sense to me. I even illustrated it with pictures that caused my teacher to have a serious meeting with my mama who in turn had a serious talk with me about drawing cowboys with their arms cut off. Never again.
Today they write more than they draw and have all kinds of nifty tools and graphic organizers to use to get their creative juices flowing. One of the more difficult assignments, for me, was the compare and contrast essay. You know the one you had to write where you compared the similarities of sea turtles and tire swings and then simultaneously contrasted their differences. Today they use what's called a Venn Diagram. A Venn Diagram is two overlapping circles; the writer includes similarities and shared characteristics in the over lapping area and the differences stay in their individual remaining area of the circles. Google it. I'm not very good at explaining it. But I use that Venn Diagram all the time...even in my thoughts and it's one of my biggest faults. Let me explain.
A few months ago I had breakfast with a beautiful group of ladies from my church. We were getting together to celebrate a birthday over eggs and bacon. I showed up in jeans, running shoes, and a hoodie; backpack slung over my shoulder. I was late and sat down to a lively conversation about the upcoming ladies conference. I had missed every single meeting to prep for that conference due to conflicting schedules and the recurring evil of strep throat in my household. I sat quietly listening to these precious ladies. They were dressed in layered chevron prints and infinity scarves, cute winter boots, chunky necklaces, jingley bracelets, and perfectly styled hair. I felt like a frump. My only jewelry was the hair tie I had taken off my daughter's hair earlier in the morning. I had no clue what the conversation was about. How did I get here? I didn't fit in. There was no place for me in that overlapping circle area...
My Venn Diagram was empty in the middle.
Is this just me? Do you ever find yourself comparing your wardrobe, family, kids, jobs, Bible Study, diet, looks, body type, husband, pets, and talents with the people you come in contact with? Let me answer that for you in case you can't be honest with yourself: Yes. You do.
Here's another instance. I just took my daughter to a birthday party for her very best friend. Her BFF is a boy she met at her Homeschool PE class. They love dragons and each other. That's all they need. Those two things fit perfectly into the middle of their Venn Diagrams and they are quite happy to never even acknowledge the rest. When we got to his house, I literally walked into a scene from Pinterest. Go to Pinterest and search for "Kids Camping Party". His backyard will pop up. No joke. I went ahead and set up my circles to compare his wonderful and doting mother with my poor daughter's mom... who has not one crafty bone in her body.
Those are two pretty big examples but this is an area that the enemy uses against me all the time. Many of us are either selling ourselves short or running ourselves to death trying to keep up while playing the comparison game and trying to force ourselves into areas of a circle we have no business being.
Can I just help you with the stress and the heartache of this? Stop. Just stop it. Stop comparing yourself to the Pinterest mom. Stop comparing yourself to the woman that is so heavily involved with women's ministry. Stop comparing yourself with the stay at home mom. Stop comparing yourself with the working mom. Stop comparing yourself to the woman who never wears jewelry or with the one who always coordinates her purse and shoes.
Ephesians 2:8-10 can handle that Venn Diagram for you when it starts getting out of control. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
See what I mean? With Christ there is really only one part to the circle... Our circle and His doesn't even overlap. Whatever traits we share are all His. But when you start comparing yourself to others you put yourself in a crazy nit-wit mess. The good works that you have to do, are yours. The good works that my sweet girlfriends have to do, are theirs. The good works that I have to do, are mine.
I finished my breakfast that morning and shared the circles my mind had been drawing all morning. As I expected, they were all precious and embraced me like I was nuts for even thinking what I was thinking. ( Ahh, If you all only knew half the junk that rattles around my hat stand). It occurred to me that my Venn Diagrams really just need to go away all together- but that morning those precious ladies revealed what we all share. The circles had many individual characteristics: Jewelry, tennis shoes, sandals, working mom, stay at home mom, teacher, Bible Study leader, vocalist, musician, runner, crafty, animal lover... but they all had ONE center: JESUS.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.