Comparisons stand out as the thing with cross-culture life that is wearing on me. It seemed to be prevalent whether I was traveling on a mission trip, mentoring a lad from the inner city, getting to know my host daughter, trying to understand my daughters MK beau (MK: missionary kid), relating to my husband, my sisters, my former life, new relationships, broken relationships… the last two years especially have been a state of comparison. I come from a family of seven girls and I’m raising a daughter. The best advise is to not fall into the trap of comparison; yet we do.
If we have a healthy outlook on life, on our spirituality, we fall into the trap less frequently. However, as we work to better ourselves, we tend to compare our old selves to what we are becoming and looking ahead to what we aspire to. Biblical counsel training refers to this as purposely putting off old habits to put on those that are Christlike [reference]. Biblically, comparing ourselves to the example of Christ is all that we should be doing. The standards of the world are askew with a bar set far too low or with the wrong priorities.
Ironically, I’m writing this morning just before a Christmas gathering with my extended family. There’s nothing like a reunion with my six sisters and their offspring to prompt an over-anylitical assessment of where I’ve been, where my heart is currently, and where I’m headed. As time progresses and I mature, I find myself justifying less and finding contentment where God has led me. In a sibling group, we often see behaviors and habits that we see in ourselves; like it or not.
I found this to be true of parenting as well. As my daughter came into her personality, I saw behaviors in her that came to her by example. Around the adolescent age I tried to correct things that were glaring at me like a flashing neon sign. It takes time and patience. In this season of my life, I’m trying to teach more through my actions than my words. I’m also trying to rise out of some deep pits created by my words and actions. It will take more time; more patience. It will take days of putting off old, comfortable tendencies and putting on healthy habits to grow accustom to a way of life that is more pleasing to God.
My daughter entered into a relationship sooner than we anticipated. Due to the separation of several continents, the relationship grew too fast and too deep than was appropriate for kids finishing high school. In hindsight, there is little that could have been done to prevent the missteps. Both kids were wise beyond their years thanks to the dysfunction in both families. Like it or not, we all have imperfections, even if we are following Christ. Unfortunately, a false sense of entitlement can come to those walking by faith. Like wolves in sheep’s clothing, we may not initially see the snare that we are walking into. The gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation are worthless if not put into practice due to pride. If there is one lesson I took away from my separation and near-divorce, no issue is black and white. Rarely in life is one party completely innocent from the other. Whether it is our perception or our response, we all play a role in the negative interactions in life. Thankfully there is just one God over all of us. His omnipotence and omnipresence gives Him a vantage and perception we will never know this side of life. Recent readings have brought great comfort with this insight. I’ve put myself far out on a limb for people for whom I am passionate and I’m certain I can easily be perceived as mildly insane. But God knows my heart and my motivation. God is my vindicator.
I feel like I’ve digressed and headed down a rabbit trail leading me off topic. It is merely an assessment I’ve made in recent days. I’ve wrongly evaluated the investment I’ve put into a failed relationship that is preventing me from investing too much into other relationships. Do I truly believe what I’ve said? Is it better to risk loss to have known love?
I just need to appreciate each relationship for what it is. Each of the teens I have invested myself into may forget all that I’ve hoped to instill in their hearts and minds. I’m hopeful each will consider our house their home for as long as I live and no matter where I live. I have to have faith that God is ordaining the opportunities for conversations and the words spoken. With that same faith, I have to trust His sovereignty knowing some regretful conversations and transparencies may have caused wedges in these relationships. I must know this or it will drive me to madness that I’m failing at relationships with humans as a measure that I’m failing in my relationship with my savior.
Yesterday I had a brief meeting with a friend I hadn’t seen in many years. I tried to determine my emotions prior to our appointment and determined I felt nothing– no fear, no apprehension. By all human understanding, these emotions should have been predominant as we had a falling out to cause a huge gap of time. After our visit, I realized God had been at work in each of us. While our outward appearance and even some of our stories revealed we were still the same people, there was a presence of new life in each of us. Nothing in our former lives mattered. God is good. I’m hopeful that both our daughters saw this or will soon see the beauty in this and apply it to their own adult lives.
One prevalent theme in our conversation is that life on earth is a blink of an eye compared to eternity. At times, years go by quickly. Then again, as we wait on God’s timing, time appears to stand still. We’ve had our share of spiritual mountaintops yet know we need to make a decent to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
Even so, through those valleys. I will fear no evil.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
near with Your protection and guidance,
I am comforted. -Psalm 23
I’ll continue writing more on the topic of comparisons. There is still much to be revealed and more enlightenment I want to share. Today’s family gathering may provide new examples as well. Time will tell…
Time will always tell. Truth prevails, no matter how we set up our comparisons. God has a unique measure, all His own. I trust that.