I worked a lot this week. Just sayin'. It's also been a hugely emotional week. I don't want to go into it here because it's not my story to tell, but I will say that it's always hard seeing old friends because of sad circumstances. I'll also say that life is precious, and if God's given life to me and you, it's a pretty sure thing that He wants us to live it. It's just hard sometimes getting that head knowledge into my heart.
When I see old friends, all of which who are a few years younger than I am, it's hard to see them as adults. But they are adults...and believe it or not, so am I. Most of my old friends are married. Most of them have real jobs. Some of them have kids. It's easy to start playing the comparison game so I can feel guilty about what I haven't accomplished that I think I'm supposed to have accomplished. It's also easy to fall into the trap of comparing myself to those who seem to have it less together than I do. Up front I'm all smiles, but in my head I can be thinking, "I may not have a real job, but at least I'm not like so and so...."
Such thinking is judgemental. Such thinking is prideful. Such thinking is also a distraction from the truth. And if I'm honest with myself, then I have to admit that I've been playing this kind of game for most of my life. And it's successfully distracted me from the truth time and time again.
When I was a freshman in college, I compared myself to all the other Biblical studies majors. I knew I didn't want to be a missionary. I knew I didn't want to be a pastor (it wasn't allowed there anyway because I'm a girl). I did want to be a pastor's wife back in the day, but even then I knew it was unlikely to happen because I was never quite the pastor's wife type. I didn't fit in with the Biblical studies people. They all had this language and lingo that I didn't speak. And I let Satan fool me for a little while. I let him trick me into believing that I couldn't do ministry if I wasn't like everyone else.
And it's weird how this happened. I found a really old cassette tape. Do you know what those are? The six year old I currently watch didn't know what a cassette tape was. She saw one in my car's tape deck (I leave my "The King and I" soundtrack in there at all times, partly because I occasionally want to hear the dulcet tones of Yul Brenner, and partly because it's like the only cassette tape I still own) and said, "WHAT'S THAT?" I said, "It's a cassette tape." She continued to stare at it in wonder. "What does it DO?" I said, "It plays music. It's what I listened to when I was a little girl before cds and mp3 players came out." She wanted me to demonstrate, so I popped the tape in. "Shall We Dance" blasted on my car's speakers. She said, "I don't like this song. (ME: WHAT? HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE THAT SONG!?) Skip to the next one." I said, "I can't skip it. We'll have to wait for it to fast forward." She was dumbfounded.
Anyway, when I was an insecure 18 year old college freshman, as opposed to the insecure 31 year old wanna be author that I am now, I found this old Amy Grant cassette tape. That's right. Amy Grant: The Collection. When I was like 8 years old, I used to do a pretend musical to this tape. I rocked my own socks off, let me tell you. Of course, now if I heard it, I'd start screaming in agony about how she totally screwed up "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" by Rich Mullins--but at that time my musical taste was pretty much geared towards whatever tapes or cds my sister bought. Since she didn't like Rich Mullins, I didn't know who the guy was.
When I found the tape as an 18 year old, I just put it in for kicks. And I heard that old song, "All I Ever Have to Be." I'll just go ahead and post the lyrics, just for your Classic Contemporary Christian enjoyment:
When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head,
And the thoughtful words of health and hope
Have all been nicely said.
But I'm still hurting,
Wondering if I'll ever be
The one I think I am.
I think I am.
Then you gently re-remind me
That you've made me from the first,
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst.
And I realize the good in me,
Is only there because of who you are.
Who you are...
And all I ever have to be
Is what you've made me.
Any more or less would be a step
Out of your plan.
As you daily recreate me,
Help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do
What I can find.
And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be
Is what you've made me.
When I was 18 years old, this song was a reminder to me that I don't have to be like everyone else. It was a reminder to me that God made me the way He made me because He had a plan for me that was different than what He had for anyone else--He had a way He wanted to minister through me that wasn't like the way He wanted to minister through others. So I couldn't fairly compare myself to anyone. And if I tried to be like someone else, that would be a loss.
Now, all these years later, it's still a reminder to me. It's a reminder to me that I don't have to compare myself to anyone. This doesn't give me an excuse to be lazy. This doesn't give me an excuse not to try. What it does, though, is give me freedom from the silly games I play--trying to compete for a prize that none of us are going to win. It doesn't matter if I never achieve anything lofty. If I never get married or never have kids, or if I never hook a literary agent, or if I never finish that cd I hoped to finish, or if I just stay in childcare forever and ever and ever--it doesn't matter. If I do accomplish those great things and more--it still doesn't matter. There's always going to be someone who seems to have things better than I do. And there's really no reason to compare myself to them.
Because God only made one me. God only made one you. Role models are fine, but in the grand scheme of things, the only person any of us has to be is the person that God made. And the pressure is off us, anyway, because God is the only one who's worthy. We're just worthy because of His worth--because He is worthy and because He wants us. But, thankfully, that's a pretty big deal.