Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 9: Optimist Challenge

Day 9: Stop thinking that you dont measure up.

Skinny bodies. Huge homes. Fancy cars. Organized play dates. Prada shoes. Swimming pools. Country clubs. Expensive jewelry. Perfect marriages. Well behaved kids. Seemingly perfect lives.

Preachers. Pastors. Reverends. Priests. CEOs. Executives. Eloquent speakers. Successful people. Godly bible study teachers. Perfect moms. Submissive wives.

Two very different categories above - but all things that can make us feel inferior. When we compare ourselves to others that we look up to, others that we wish we were more like, or even others that we are jealous of and think they have it all together - the result is nothing but a bunch of "stinkin thinkin".

A couple years ago, I caved in to my daughters pleas to be involved in a local community beauty pageant. Against my better judgement, I allowed her to participate, hoping it would be a good time with friends, and a little morale booster - but I could not have been more wrong.

She was dressed in a royal blue tea length dress, with ruffles down to the knees, a fitted waistline, and lots and lots of sequins. She had dainty, clear Cinderella slippers with shiny sparkles across the toes. Her beautiful long golden hair looked like something out of a Pantene commercial, with flowing locks halfway down her back. And I even let her wear a little bit of makeup and lip gloss to brighten up her smile. She was absolutely, stunningly beautiful - and she knew it.

She hopped out of the car, flipping her hair back in an "I am all that" kind of way, and ran into the auditorium; beaming with pride and wearing a big smile as she waved goodbye.

I went inside and found a seat near the front, waiting for the pageant to start. But then less than five minutes later, I spotted her behind the curtain.

Then she began slowly making her way down to the seats, heading straight for me. I noticed that her look of pride and self worth had been replaced with discouragement and sadness. As she got closer, I also noticed a sparkle in her eye, not from sequins, but instead from a few little tears that she was desperately trying not to shed.

"Mommy, all the girls are wearing full length gowns, and I am only wearing a tea length gown. I look ugly. I will never win."

My heart broke into a million pieces. My first thought was, "bad, bad mommy! I should have bought her a better dress!" But my second thought was, "she is the most beautiful girl up there, because of whats on the inside, not the outside".

I spent the next few minutes trying to rebuild her confidence, and reassuring her of how beautiful she looked. She regained her composure and wiped away her tears, and somehow managed to find that sweet little smile again. But as she headed back to the stage, I was reminded of God's truth.

The truth that He shares with us in Psalm 139: 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

The other truth is, that even as grown men and women, we do the same thing that my daughter did. We look around and make our own assessment, that in one way or another, we really dont measure up to everyone else.

We compare ourselves to people at work, school, in our neighborhood,and in our churches. We assume they are better, smarter, and more capable, at everything, and that we have nothing of value to add to the world as a result.

If we arent careful, that "stinkin thinkin" can become our every day attitude, instead of just an occasional twinge of jealously or lack of self worth.

That "stinkin thinkin" results in a really ugly, negative outlook on life - from the inside, out. As a result, we begin to hide our insecurities and low self esteem behind a mask of negativity.

This faulty line of thinking causes us to fail to recognize and remember that we are a whole, complete and beautiful child of God. It causes us to forget that He formed us in the womb, exactly as we were supposed to be. Unique and valuable.

Not perfect - but fearfully and wonderfully made - on purpose - for a reason.

Dont fool yourself into believing that all those people whom you admire or look up to........all those people you may be jealous of......that all those people whom you feel you cant measure up to........ are not experiencing the same insecure feelings that you are feel. Most people are just really good at putting on those masks every day, and some are better than others at hiding what is behind the mask. All those things in their life that they dont want other people to see.

We have a major enemy against us, who loves nothing more than to make us feel worthless, of little value, and incapable of doing anything good for anybody, much less a sovereign and holy God.

That mean ol enemy will most assuredly hold your mistakes over your head; remind you of your short comings; engage in a game of self condemnation; and be thrilled if he can paralyze you with low self esteem - but he can only do this, if you invite him to play the game.

It takes great faith and courage to admit that we are not perfect, and to own up to our mistakes. It takes even greater faith to see ourselves and our value through the eyes of the One who created us, rather than the eyes that are looking back at us in the mirror every day.

It takes great faith to love ourselves for who God made us to me.

2 Corinthians 10:12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Challenge: Stop thinking that you dont measure up. Guess what - you do!

Gods grace is sufficient. The blood of the lamb has cleansed our souls and made us white as snow - but you have to believe it, to live it.

If you have been practicing the art of self condemnation, ask God to help you break the addiction to be down on yourself.

Pray for the supernatural ability to be able to see yourself through His eyes, and not what you see in the mirror.

If you have sins in your past that you have not forgiven yourself for, forgive yourself today. Allow God to pierce your heart with the redemption that He desires for you to feel. He does not keep a record of our wrongs, so we do not need to keep records on ourselves.

The next time you find yourself in a comparison game in your heart, stop and pray. Remind yourself of who you are, because of who God made you to be.

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Brandi said...

I am very guilty of stinkin thinkin! And it is going to STOP! I feel inferior and it is just my thought that make me feel that way. I pray that God will help me redirect my thoughts. And pray that I just stop comparing myself to everyone around me.

Lori said...

Dear Tracie,
This post was meant for me!
I loved the idea:
"the next time you find yourself in a comparison game in your heart, stop and pray. Remind yourself of who you are, because of who God made you to be."

I'm taking Beth Moore's Esther class now and during her last video she talked about how EVERYONE has a particular 'issue.'
It keeps us from serving our purpose that God has before us.
We allow it to hold us back.
I'm working on this one!

Thank you so much for serving us through your blog!

Lori - Mesa, AZ

Joyful said...

It's this very reason that years ago I began placing little "princess" items around my home. They are small, but they are reminders to me that I'm the daughter of the King of Kings and He sees me as beautiful. I have a little tiara magnet on my fridge; a hand held mirror in the shape of a crown with the word "Princess" etched right on it...I even have a pink Minnie Mouse head, sporting a crown on my car antenna!

The comparison trap is deadly, but there is One who loves us beyond compare.

Rejoicing that the King is enthralled with my beauty, (Ps.45:11)

Lori said...

I love your ideas! Visuals around the house to keep me centered on the one I'm desiring to please! Thank you! It's God's favor I'm after, not people of this world! God loves me for who I am; afterall, he created me just the way he wanted me to be.

Lori - Mesa, AZ

Lori said...

I just have to write this...I walked in my woman's Bible Study this morning and placed at everyone's spot was a "princess crown hat!" God must have known I'd need a 'visual' to remind that I am the daughter of the King of Kings! I totally felt God's presence with me!

I promise I won't leave ANOTHER comment today!

Lori - Mesa, AZ

Anonymous said...

I try and ready your blogs every day. I have found great joy in them. Our daughters go to school together so you will know where I come from on this statement. At 13 years old the kids in the Middle school worry about the clothes they wear the shoes they have and so on. I so wish that that was not the case. Some parents can not afford to buy the Hollister or what ever may be in style for the day. I find myself praying that my daughter is a kind person, who does not judge others based on the size of the home the style of clothes the wear. I do however fear that society has made our young ones this way. It is up to the parents to reach out and TEACH the children that it is not what is on the out side that counts but rather it what is on the inside that makes all the difference. You are so right when you say that. Now if we could just teach all the children this it would make life a lot easier. God loves you no matter the clothes you wear the color of your hair or the size of your home. This has been a very good series of blogs! Keep it up.

A Panther Mom

Carmen. said...

I usually have in mind who I am because my Heavenly Father is the King of Kings, my problem is when I have in front of me insecure people with low self esteem that compare themselves with me and gave a look full of jealousy and arrogance, I struggle a lot specially if we work together or share time, that put me down very easy.
Please Lord help me to remember that your creation is unique, and to love even those who don't know you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tracie!
'Stinking thinking' I often fall into that trap. Setting my standards using human standards and other people's achievements, who they are and what they have!

Thanks for reminding me that I am a special somebody. Though not perfect - I am FEARFULLY and WONDEFULLY made by the Almighty. WOW!!!!! today's challenge has made me feel so special, loved and precious! I need to look at myself through God's eyes, the eyes of my Maker who knows me and my every thought. I pray that God help me overcome the negative, the inferiority and inadequate feelings. I pray that God will help re-direct my thoughts and that I focus on him and his greatness always!

Thank you so much Traciee and may God bless you.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made CT

Tracey said...

I definately struggle with putting myself down. Especially when I've messed up or forgotten something. I am my own worst enemy. Since I've started taking an anger management class through my church, I've learned that what we think affects how we feel, how we feel, affects how we act. It all starts with what we think. I think God is definately trying to tell me something. It's definately not a coincidence that what I am learning in my small group is related to the challenge I'm following with you. Thank you.