Real Talk: Comparison sucks.

The more years I’m alive the more I am learning that I am not alone. I am not terminally unique in my thoughts, desires, or needs. Meaning, if a crazy thought passes my mind, I’m sure it has crossed others as well. There’s comfort in that. I want to talk about comparison. Everything in me is dying to make this “Catchy” and “interesting” so you’ll want to read it and then be impressed and then i don’t know what, but that’s a lot of pressure. So i’m just going to type and if you keep reading great, if you skim it awesome, if you stop after this sentence then go for it. So, here we go: comparison.

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t compare myself to someone. Growing up, I compared myself to my brother. He’s funnier than I am, he’s stronger, he’s good at music.  In 5th-12th grade, I compared myself to the “popular girls.” They are prettier than me, they are smarter, the boys like them more than me. In college, I compared myself to my Christian friends: they read more of the Bible than I do, they love God more than me, they serve more than me. BUT this also goes both ways. When I was a kid, I felt better than my brother cause I did better in school and didn’t get in any trouble. In 5th-12th grade, I felt better than the popular girls because I was more “mature” than they were and was a nicer person. In college, I had a fair share of people to compare my actions with (not drinking, smoking or failing classes)  and give myself a nice pat on the back for being “holier” than them.

For all of my life, I have compared myself to others. I try to figure out where I fit in a group of people. Then by the time I “know” them, I’ve got us all ranked up base on my own opinions of people. This sends me in dangerous seasons of feeling way less than some people (popular girls, super spiritual people, leaders/authority figures) and desperately wanting their approval versus other seasons of my life where I feel way better than others which leads to pride and a crummy attitude. Several problems with this mentality: If I base my self worth on others, the people around me are always coming/going. How do I know where I stand? I might feel super confident and awesome around one group and then terribly shy and undeserving of attention in a different group. Then you have this distorted view of yourself like you get when you walk through a fun house with all those mirrors that make you look super fat or skinny.

I read this book on Self-Worth and one part really stuck out to me.

Wrong Belief: My Self worth is based on how I see myself in comparison to others and how others view me.
Right Belief: My self-worth is not based on how I see myself or how others see me, but on how God sees me, for I was created by Him in His image. Not only did Jesus pay the highest price for me by dying on the cross for my sins, but He also lives in me to fulfill His plan and purpose for me.”

Do you live your life comparing yourself to others? Does someone getting a job, a raise, engaged, a new house, or a baby, bother you? If it irks you a bit, you might be comparing yourself to them. I really struggle with this and singleness. It’s so easy to go down that road in my head when someone close to me gets a boyfriend.  “No ones asking you out Marlie. No guy has given you his number. No guy has seemed interested in you. and (this friend) has experienced all that. Therefore, you must not be as pretty, funny, awesome as (this friend.)”

The people in your life should not be used as measuring sticks to make you feel better or worse about yourself. That’s giving someone else the power to define your worth. A friend of mine said once “If someone offered $5 for the Mona Lisa, that doesn’t mean the Mona Lisa is worth $5. It means that person is an idiot.” You’re worth a lot more than the Mona Lisa, friend. And don’t let anyone try and tell you that you that you’re worth a few bucks.  Christ already decided how much you are worth. Nothing and no one can change that.

I wrote something a few months ago in my diary a few months ago and I want to share it with you to close up this here blog.

God made the Earth and everything in it, from beautiful daisies to cascading mountains, from a herd of wild mustangs to colony of ants. The earth is His and everything in it. Look at His creation and you’ll find design, purpose and beauty. I am part of His creation, therefore design, purpose and beauty all exist in me. He did not make any mistakes when He made me. I am intricately designed by my Father’s hand. He knows my past, present and future. I am still breathing therefore I have purpose here. Purpose in the mundane, purpose in the pain, purpose in the joy. None of it is wasted. But, beauty? Years of lies tell me I am the exception. There’s not beauty in Marlie, the enemy sneers. Sunsets are pretty, oceans are pretty and so are forests. But Marlie? She got the short end of the stick. For so long I believed that lie, and to an extend I still do. But today, i am taking small steps to believe that God didn’t screw up when He made me. I was not an afterthought, unwanted or just merely tolerated. Jesus died for me, and if I was still the one sheep who didn’t get her crap together, Jesus still would have come. Lord I believe, Help my unbelief.

 

 

 

Lord we believe, help our unbelief.

 

-Marlie

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London (part 1): Getting there.

I walked past the flyer every day for 3.5 years. I got e-mails about it. I had several friends, even roommates go. But to each of them and to all of it,  I stuck my nose up and said, “Study abroad in London? No thank you.” There were a number of reasons why I didn’t think I wanted to go. First being fear. I was afraid to leave such a comfortable place,  a place where I felt loved and had tons of friends. I was afraid of living in another country because all I’d known my whole life was life in America. I put myself in a box. I saw pictures of the people that went to London and I always thought to myself: “They’re so adventurous. I’m not like that. I’m not like them. I could never do that.”

I was sitting at a computer one day, Spring of 2014,  looking at my degree audit and looking at the flyer for the London Study abroad program that I had nervously picked up. I walked into my professor’s office and uttered the words: “I think I want to go to London next year.” You know how you say something and it feels it wasn’t you who said it, like it was some strange new person you never met? Well, that was my first introduction to the new Marlie. I  got to know her more in London. She spoke up that day. She talked her parents into considering London. She wrote, edited and defended her thesis early so that she could be good to go to London in the Spring of 2015. The other Marlie spent hours googling things like “10 reasons to study abroad” or “what are the best and worst things about london?” She also spent a great deal of time talking with friends who had gone to London, asking them silly questions. Then, Marlie, went to her professor’s office and asked one more question: Is it worth it? Giving up my last semester on campus to go to London? Will I regret it?
To which she responded “I’ve never had a student regret it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

That’s the day that new Marlie became me.

A year later, 3 months in London behind me. I’ve never been more thankful for that day I picked up that flyer I walked past so many times that said “Study abroad in London: Spring 2015.

the last day

We’ve all experienced the “last day,” whether it be a last day at a job, last day of school, last day in the neighborhood you grew up in. I experienced a pretty big ‘last day’ recently. I arrived in Texas on Friday after 3 months of studying abroad in London, England. (I’ll blog about it later.) I knew that I had 3 months and 3 days in London. Near the end of the experience, people began to countdown. 2 weeks left, 11 days, 3 days, 24 hours. When Thursday came, the last full day in London, all of us were so excited to make the most of our last day! We spent days planning, we asked each other what we wanted to do. I went to sleep that Wednesday imagining what the next day held: sunshine, roses, cotton candy machines, everyone skipping joyfully and smiling. In reality, that Thursday was just like the other 80 some odd days in London. The only difference was the knowledge that this was our last day in this city.

This applies to any situation where we know its our “last time.” My last day of high school was the same as the previous four years, writing my last college paper felt just like writing all the other papers I wrote. The last time I rode the tube in London, felt just like all the other times. We expect so much out of our ‘last’ moments that we forget its just another day. I had to readjust my mindset about half way through the day in London, I had to lower my expectations: the last day wasn’t going to solve all my problems  (i got 99 problems and leaving London was one),  the last day was not going to provide ultimate satisfaction (only Christ can do that), and certainly Chris pine was not going to fall out of the sky and propose to me (psst Chris pine! I’m in texas now!!) It was just another 24 hours in London.

I think i’m beating this point to a pulp. Moving on.

So, fellow sentimental beings,  what do we do with our ‘last day?” (Again, i’m not speaking of death here, just the end of careers/experiences/etc.) Exchange that feeling of expectation, that “me, me me” attitude, and turn it into action: be intentional. So this is your last day! what are YOU going to do with it? Don’t wait around for the day to serve you, go serve during the day. Be intentional, be proactive.  Make every moment count. stop counting the moments. I think I got that from a t-shirt or an e-harmony commercial,  or something.  Next time, don’t wait until the end to make it count! Start early, be intentional when you have several weeks left. Shoot, be intentional from the beginning! Because when I really think about it, we don’t really know how much time we have in the grand scheme of things.

So, friend, go make today count.

Why?

I wrote this in April. Forgot I never posted it!

——

Ever hang around 3 year olds? They ask “why?” all the stinking time. I’ve heard moms deal with their 3 year olds and more often than not they’ll answer a few of the “why’s?” then when they get fed up with answering it or don’t know the answer they’ll ignore it or just respond with “Just Because!” or “That’s just the way it is.”

I’ve been asking God “Why?” a lot this past year. If someone had told me a year ago, I’d be where I was today. I’d laugh and say “No way. That’s terrible, I’d never be able to get through all that.” Here I am today, going through it. I am spouting off the Christian answers to life’s troubles to try and soothe my soul. “It’s happening for a reason.” “God will redeem this.” “You are not alone.”  Deep down having no earthly clue what to do because  I haven’t heard from God at all since any of this happened. I’ve felt really lost. Confused. I felt like he was done listening to the why questions I kept asking and has just settled with ignoring me or saying “Just because.” Believing that you are suffering for no reason is like the worst feeling in the world and this morning I had reached that point. I believed that this was all for nothing. This morning, after deciding that God was never going to answer why, I gave one last little silent plea:
God, Why am I in pain?

He answered that question with a question.

“Is it worth it?”

“Is what worth it?” I asked

“if a year, 5 years, or 15 years down the road, you told your story, this

story, with this pain. And a person was so moved by your testimony that

they accepted Christ, is this pain you are feeling right now, worth it?”

I stopped folding my laundry immediately. And thought about it. My heart pounded and I shook my head yes. There’s a lot of hurting people out there. And the more I go through, the more I struggle the more I can say with confidence to others: “Um, I went through this and this. and there is no stinking way I did it by myself. God comforted me, God gave me reason to wake up in the morning. And I know you are  struggling and I want to point you to Him who can help you too because life sucks way too much to try and do it alone. He loves you”

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When

they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has

given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

I met Jesus at a job interview

I was alone in the room which sported: white walls except for the occasional motivational poster and a white board with various indiscernible scribbles in red marker. The employees words: “The General manager will be with you soon,” bounced around the walls in my head. My fingers tip-tapped the table twice the pace of my heart. I turned my phone off so I had no idea how long I waited for my interview to begin, but it was an agonizing wait. This job interview literally combined all of my fears into one situation:

a) the unknown:  Unknown questions asked by a stranger.
b)possible rejection.
c) a test : No really, upon arrival, the employee handed me a brochure and said: “Study this information. You’ll need to know it for the interview.” 

I went over the four main points of the brochure in my head over again and once I knew I had it. I decided a quick prayer might be of good use. “God, I really need you. I’m scared. I don’t want to blow it. I’m scared because I’m alone.” This was my first job interview that was one-on-one. There was an empty chair next to me and I don’t know if it was my idea or God’s, but I pictured Jesus sitting there next to me. Just like in those cheesy cartoons that are floating around Facebook. But, I imagined Jesus incarnate right next to me and him pointing to me and saying to the imaginary manager: This girl is rad, you should hire her. Not only does Jesus have cool lingo, but  He really is there. God is always with us. And as a visual learner, picturing Jesus there (like He really is) actually calmed me down immensely. Just in time too because the manager walked in. We exchanged handshakes and “nice to meet you’s.”

Upon sitting down, he said: “I’m sorry the employee left you here all alone.”

“That’s okay!” I said with a smile and I thought to myself:

 I wasn’t alone. 

 

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

But really, why?

It’s a New Year and many Christians will download the “Bible in a year” app on their phone with the thoughts of “Yes, this year I will read through the Bible. I will!” And then, if you’re like me, you do so well for a month and by February you forget a couple days and then decide you’re too far behind and will try again next year. I heard a sermon last Sunday all about the importance of reading your bible. I’ve heard it all before yet why do I still struggle to get in the word every day. It’s like Paul said: I don’t do the things I know I should and I do the things I know I shouldn’t do. (my own words) I know I should be reading the bible but I don’t. Instead, I read the whole Hunger games series in a week, or watch episode after episode of New girl. Or spend hours on youtube. I know I shouldn’t be spending so much time doing those things, but I do. So the question I am asking myself and am going to answer honestly is: Why? Why don’t I read the Bible?

I came up with several reasons why.  And maybe you can relate to a few.

I’m very emotionally-driven and so when I sit down and read the Bible I feel like there’s something wrong with me or my relationship with God if I’m not having this big emotional moment like so many Christians talk about. I’ve heard friends come up to me and say “Ya know Marlie, I was reading this passage yesterday and man God just flooded me with a peace and love.” Well, that’s great. But now I have this expectation that if I read that same passage, I too must be flooded with the same emotions.    It’s similar to the feeling of shame you get when you’re watching a movie and you know you should be crying because it’s sad. And all your friends told you they cried when they watched it. But, You watch it, don’t cry, and your friends ask you later about it and you lie and say “OH YEAH i WAS A WRECK. A BALL OF TEARS MAN.” Cause we didn’t want to be labeled as “cruel” or “heartless” or have someone ask us if we had seen what had happened. 

I’m scared to sit in silence or meditate on God’s word because I’m scared He won’t speak to me or that He will and I’ll miss it. I’m scared I’ll walk away from an experience with way more questions than answers. The world makes thing simple: love your friends, hate your enemies, be happy and be successful. Just basically do you cause you deserve it. You open up the Bible because you’re stuck in a tough situation with a friend and you realize that following Christ means forgiving that person, praying for them, loving them.  Cause let’s face it, following Christ is hard. Love our enemies? Pray for those who persecute us? All the while the Enemy and our sinful nature team up against us and tell us all sorts of lies. No, you deserve to be angry at that person. What they did was crossing the line. 

The world also makes things fast. I went through the drive-thru of a restaurant, it was lunch hour so there were tons of people. I ordered, paid and got my food in less than two minutes. It was almost creepy how fast it was. We’re all obsessed with our own schedules and we hate when something is late. Sometimes I find myself treating God the same way. “Oh hey God, I’m going to give you this 5-10 minutes to speak to me via my time in the Word, prayer or in meditation. So speak now or forever hold your peace.” And it’s wrong, so wrong for me to expect God to work in my time-frame. It leads to so much uneasiness on my part when He doesn’t speak in the timeframe I give him. The enemy has a field day in those moments when God (from my perspective) is not speaking.

And finally, I struggle with the why.     Why do we read the Bible? I know it’s God’s word. I believe that. Do we read it to better know God? To better understand His story? To change ourselves? To make ourselves feel better? I was pretty scarred once at a bible study when someone said something along the lines of only selfish terrible people look for comfort in the bible. it’s not about us.  the bible is only so we can know God better.  Do I believe what he said? Not at all. But does it still haunt me, yes.

These are some of the things that keep me from reading the Bible. Aside, from blatant rebellion, pride and laziness which I think are the more surface level issues. These are more of the issues that are beyond the surface. Hence the blog title. I long to be more honest and vulnerable because when you are, someone can say “Yeah, I feel that way too.” And suddenly, the shame and fear of being alone in a struggle is gone. My mom shared something with me on facebook today and I want to share it with you guys too.

“When we are going through difficulties and start to get discouraged, we often stop reading the Bible…and that is exactly what the enemy wants you to do. He wants you to lose hope and believe his lies that say God has abandoned you, that God doesn’t hear your prayers and that God doesn’t care about you. We are in spiritual battles and the Bible is the Sword of the Spirit…it is the offensive weapon we’ve been given to battle back against the doubts, fears and lies the enemy whispers to us. When you start to doubt God’s character and His promises, read your Bible. God’s word is truth and when you use it to fight back against anything that goes against what God has declared in His word, you will start to see mental and spiritual victories in your life.”–Debbie Kay