Sharing our faith can be hard sometimes. We want to do it in love, but sometimes we just straight up offend people. It's a hard balance! We never want to be shy about our faith, but we also want to do it in a way that makes other people feel loved.
Here's a few thoughts and experiences I've had at successfully sharing what I believe with honesty, while valuing and honoring other's perspectives.
Listen in above.
This podcast is very near to my heart and was incredibly hard to share. For so long, I've been afraid to even speak of this season of my life that I struggled with panic and anxiety. I was fearful that by even speaking the names of these things, they would be triggered to return.
But I truly know that I am healed and that stories of healing are meant to be shared. Have grace with this podcast. I am rambly and a little disorganized, but it's because I'm emotional and it's all so personal.
I believe that by putting biblical and logical concepts of discipline in place, we can manage anxiety and find peace. But my 4th point is the most crucial and life changing for me. I believe that by the power of Jesus and his Holy Spirit, I found the true and absolute healing I was looking for.
Please listen if you or someone you know deals with anxiety and have grace for my bumbling words. I pray something in here resonates with you and helps you understand concepts that could help you.
During this time, I wrote the below words as a way to remind myself that there was healing from all the pain. I wrote a lot during that time, and never shared most of it, so I might little by little post it here. Kind of scary to me, but it's also healing.
I’d always grown up believing the best of the world, seeing it with rose colored glasses.
But darkness scraped off my childishness, removing my skin, rendering it ashes.
I had a choice
To sit, to remember, to anger, to condemn
Or I could re-grow that skin, painfully stronger than it had been.
So you know what I did?
My skin grew back, tough and more rosey than ever before.
I have a power inside of me that spoke to the darkness ‘no more.’
‘You do not have to be broken to be real.
You don’t have to be broken to feel.
You are mighty in your wholeness.
Strong and growing and healed.
And your rose-colored glasses are glasses no longer,
but have become the way you see what is stronger.
the darkness only wins if we sit in our anger
but in healing, that childlike-rosey light is now your anchor.’
Morning (and night) routines are one of the most important things in my life. I was really struggling emotionally during a certain period of my life and I found that by setting healthy boundaries and routines (even in the midst of crazy traveling), my well being and joy increased dramatically.
I don't prescribe anything as being a fix-it-all solution. But I do think that we have trained ourselves to stop listening to our bodies. Learning to shut off social media and distractions to really listen to what we need will tell us so much. God designed our bodies to have boundaries, and if we are not respecting how we were created, we will be trapped by the broken emotions that come with being out of touch with this fleshly vessel we call home.
Here's just a few things that have worked for me in my morning routine:
1. Phone = OFF and OUT OF SITE
At night, I put my phone in the kitchen and turn it off. When I wake up, it is not near my bed and is not the first thing I go on.
I used to 'use' my phone as an alarm (alarms are $12 at Target, people). So everytime it dinged, flashed, or vibrated, I'd roll over and check to see who was liking, emailing, commenting, etc. As soon as I woke up, I'd convince myself I needed to 'relax' for a few minutes before getting up. Even when I turned my notifications off, the constant awareness that it was always there was too tempting.
I used to have a lot of trouble sleeping too and when I'd have nights of restlessness, I enjoyed having my phone to keep me company. You know though, as soon as I put my phone away, my brain started realizing that I didn't have to be "on" all the time, I actually learned how to sleep so much better!
I was also convinced that I needed to be accessible. I ran a growing company and if something happened, I needed to be available. I have loads of siblings I adore. What if something happened and they needed me?
All of these feelings naturally put in us a state of anxiety, because there is an expectation of what's to come. And we wonder why anxiety seems to constantly haunt us.
We also wonder why we feel feelings of worthlessness, comparison, or jealousy so often. Perhaps it's because before the hour of 8am, we've already read three news articles, looked at hundreds of curated photos, and read every new detail about our friend's lives. We can't blame social media for this. We have the power within us to put social media away. There's nothing wrong with others for wanting to post pretty photos, create art, and share their life's details. It's that you weren't meant to see it 24/7, late in the night, early in the morning, and at your most vulnerable times.
People will be okay without you being 'on' every second. You can buy an alarm and wake up the old fashioned way. And your brain will learn, over time, to rest and not feel that anxious expectation of missing out. Leave your phone for AFTER you've completed your morning routine.
2. Make your bed
I admit, I still struggle with this. But making my bed has this weirdly glorious effect on me. It gives me this internal idea that, from the very beginning of the day, my life is in order. A simple task completed well that no one else sees helps me feel ready. And it sets me up to be well disciplined through out the day.
Also, it feels so good to get home and see a made bed, just beckoning for me to open the comforter and snuggle inside. It helps with my nightly routine too, as it lends to a sense of calm and peace right before bed.
3. Eat Breakfast
As for breakfast, I really mean just make something and/or anything. Even drinking a smoothie, sipping a cup of coffee, or chopping up some fruit helps me feel more prepared. It has nothing to do with the food, but that little act of willpower changes my mindset. (especially when I could easily run out the door with my bed a mess, an empty tummy, and the feeling that I'm already behind.) Making yourself breakfast reiterates to yourself that you have to put yourself first and sets your day up for good self care.
3. Pray, Journal, Meditate...
Before I pick up my phone, or hop on my computer, I take time to do something for me to mentally prepare for the day. As someone of faith, I pray every morning. Usually while in bed still. As soon as I wake up, I thank God for all he's given me. I pray about how I'd like the day to look and ask for joy and determination. I always pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in me that day and give me power over my own desires and struggles. I've found that praying for this has helped me through some of the darkest things. It's essential that I set my heart on heaven every morning with gratitude and put in the guardrails during the day my heart will abide by.
Sometimes I'll get up and stretch while I pray. Sometimes I sit on a blanket and face the sun, feeling it on my face and thanking him for his goodness. Often times I pair reading my Bible with this or I journal.
It doesn't have to look the same everyday, but a routine that allows you to take a moment and readjust your focus on what is most important to you will help your brain be able to handle all that you will need to do and see that day. And, I find that if I'm doing this everyday, when I hop on social media I'm not confronted with comparisons or the overwhelming anxiety of the news. My heart has been checked and put in it's place and I feel peace.
5. Make a list of what to accomplish that day
This is my fifth and final thing. It's easy for me to finish the above and then immediately hop on my computer and start answering emails. But then I start to live life by REACTION. I want to move with intention and not react to things. So before I start my work day, I make a list of the top things to accomplish that day. I use an online list maker and move things around in my day/week until I feel that I have a clear vision of how to get each thing done. Then and only then do I dive into my work/social media.
These are just a few things I do, but they have helped me get through many challenging periods of life. Little acts of discipline can seem fruitless sometimes, but discipline done over and over can have such positive long term effects. So try some of these things out (even as simple as they seem) for 30 days and see how you feel!
God is teaching me a lot in this season. I’m not even fully sure yet what it is, but I can feel it’s something big.
During this time, I've been praying a lot to hear from God. I've always been curious how people *hear* God and felt a little sad that I didn't always hear him audibly.
As I got older, I had trouble hearing as clearly as I did when I was young. I felt like I wasn’t as close to God, because I don't hear him in dreams or epiphanies or with my actual ears. :)
But, ironically enough, the Holy Spirit impressed a deep thought into my heart recently as I was studying scripture. He said “I’ve made you a certain way, so why would I not speak to you in the way I specifically made you?”
I’m honestly not a very emotional person. On all personality tests, I’m a very factual, reason based gal. For you personality test junkies, I’m a type 1 enneagram, D with high C on the DISC assessment, and an INTJ on the meyers-briggs. I like to work in systems and don't always trust the way I feel.
And, as much as I thought I didn't have epiphanies, I felt an amazing peace. Of course! Seems simple, but God truly does speak to me through the way I am made. He speaks to me using the tools he's given me to hear.
And he speaks through out the Bible to people in different ways: through burning bushes, supernatural manifestations, natural manifestations, circumstances, bright lights, scripture, nature, wise counsel.....and all to reveal his thoughts to us (Amos 4:13). Why would I not also expect him to be specific with me?
I was expecting God to use random bursts of emotion to speak to me. Flashes of lightning. Fits of inspiration. Rainbows and music and meaningful dreams. And yes, there have been a few very prophetic times he has used those things for me.
But, can I admit it? I just don’t hear him clearly that way most days. Why? Because God didn’t make me that way. What an incredible relief. I most often hear God through logic and reason, through studying history and the word. And that's okay.
I like facts and I like things to feel sensible, and when I realized that, I understood the whispers that had been God's voice all along.
It doesn't mean God can't ever blow my mind and write a sign in the sky or speak through a dream. And sometimes he DOES work outside of sensibility.
But on an everyday level, I hear God now because I know how he made me. And because of that, I also feel loved and cherished that he speaks to my heart in the perfect way I know how to hear.
Are you trying to hear God in the way someone ELSE hears God? Are you judging somebody else for not hearing God in the same way you do?
Often we get caught up in waiting for big signs and wonders, which I believe are possible and incredible through God and his Holy Spirit working within us. But often, we forget that God has designed us and communicates in the way that we were uniquely created. How has he created you?
When I was little, my favorite heroine was Joan of Arc. I'm not quite sure why, but I was fascinated by her. I felt like I heard God's voice clearly as a little girl and was also tad 'odd,' so I felt akin to girls that felt misplaced and different. Maybe you relate.
I adored that Joan honored her inner femininity, but never saw her femininity as something to hinder her from God's calling. And for her, his call was to lead an army and fight for what she believed was right. There is one point where someone asks her if she is afraid, and supposedly, she says,
"I am not afraid, for God is with me. I was born for this!"
To live with that kind of passion and belief in what you are doing is seemingly absurd and also wonderful. How much more confident would we be if we approached the scary situations in our life believing that really, truly God had created us for that very thing?
As I got older, I felt called to many things that scared me. Starting businesses as a teenager, trying to build a company growing at a crazy rate, fighting for women's rights worldwide, speaking, traveling, and now having a baby.
Now, none of these things have quite the craziness of becoming a military leader at age 17 like Joan of Arc, but they were scary none-the-less. There have been times (especially in the last year) where I have felt so under-qualified to do what I have felt called to do.
Funny enough, the biggest thing I've ever felt this about has been having a baby. Seems goofy, but I've always had this innate fear that I just wasn't made overly maternal. I'm not even sure why, but getting pregnant has brought out that worst fear in me. Can I still be the woman I want to be - world changer, business owner, traveler, speaker.....and a mom?
Early in my pregnancy, I had to bring this to God and wrestle with it. I felt as if I had to be a different person to be pregnant and become a mom. I know that all the moms out there probably think that it's silly....and of course you can do all of those things! But it was a real fear of mine.
Gently, God told me two very important things:
- Chelsie, how do you want your daughter to feel about herself? Because if you aren't confident in yourself and how God made you, will she be? I want her to love herself, no matter how she is made or what quirky things are a part of her. There are no mistakes, so I have to believe that about how God created me too.
- I made you the way I made you for a reason. Jeremiah 1:5 says that we are known and loved before we are even in the womb. And that from conception, we are set apart for something incredible and specific. How can I say I was not made for this when God carefully created my personality for ALL of the plans he had for me - entrepreneurship AND motherhood? I was made for this.
Maybe it's not motherhood for you. But maybe you are also living in a season that scares you. A calling you've felt since you were little, or a crazy new idea you had just last night, a big business idea, or a step that you need to take in healing. Maybe you are in a situation that you never asked for, something you feel so unqualified to handle. Something that is just plain scary. Know this - you were specifically made to walk through what are walking through and conquer it. You were especially made to do that one thing you've felt tugging on your heart.
No one else. You.
I keep this letterboard (pictured above) in my kitchen every morning.
As I'm making my nutella and toast and OJ, I read it and remind myself of what Joan of Arc said. If I can believe this about myself, I can do anything.
My business - I was made for it. Every piece of my personality, no matter how quirky I feel.
My calling - as scary and unknown as it sometimes feels, there is no one better equipped to do it than me.
My child - I was made for her, formed in MY mother's womb with the exact things God knew I would need to love her and raise her to be a world changer.
God is with us and has designed us for this very moment in history to make a difference and overcome.
You were made for this.
Now that the first trimester is over, I wanted to blog an update to remember all of the
wonderful & weird things that happened during these last few months.
This is my first pregnancy and reaching the second trimester is such a gift. Not only
because I'm hoping the morning sickness will fade, but the pregnancy risk is much
lower and something I won't need to continually fear. Praising God for the protection and continual prayers.
But the last couple months have been exciting ones!
On a hot day in August of 2005, I met Ryan Antos. We were friends at first
and then some years later, he told me he liked me. We were 14 years old, little and awkward, but even in those years, we knew we loved each other so. It's been almost 10 years since the day when we confessed our affection to each other. As a teenager, I was terrified of the day we would separate. I was a realistic kid and I knew it had to come....young love never lasts. And so everyday I would write in my journal that if God could give me anything, I would ask for him.
At 19 years old, Ryan asked me to marry him and my faithful prayers, scribbled in a
worn journal came true.
We've been married over 4 years, and it has been everything I could have dreamed.
We've walked through hard things like everyone, sure. But I have been loved enough to
last me a lifetime and I have loved enough for a lifetime, and to know we still have a
lifetime yet to love one another brings me so much joy.
In June, we had started to talk about kids,
but weren't sure if we were ready yet. We
were both really enjoying our careers and
adventures. We traveled so much and I had
this weird, irrational fear that once a kid
came, all of it was over. So we decided that maybe we would wait another year.
At the end of June, God woke me up in the
middle of night and told me that I needed to start praying for my future baby and for
the faith to not believe my irrational fears.
I don't often have midnight God experiences
(though I wish I did!), so this was pretty
So I committed that every morning, I would take a good chunk of prayer time and pray
for our one day child and that God would prepare my heart and my faith for that time. I knew there'd be fear, but I prayed an end to the fear that kept stopping me from even
considering becoming pregnant. I was praying all of this with 2018 in mind of course, so we weren't taking any big risks and it was all purely for the future. ;)
Fast forward 3 weeks....
On a Tuesday night in July....on the way to a photoshoot, I stopped at home because I felt sick. I had a weird thought that I should take a pregnancy test....fully knowing there was no possible way to be pregnant.
But lo and behold.
I didn't really believe it when I saw it. I thought I had taken it wrong. I kind of just
pretended it hadn't happened because I was alone and freaking out, I told my dog,
filmed a quick video just in case it was true, and went on my way.
When Ryan came home later, I dropped the news, he was so shocked and overjoyed, and then we went to Target, where I took a bunch more tests. All positive. It felt a little
surreal. I didn't know how to respond and was just kind of in shock. Especially because only Ryan and I knew what I was praying for. (and of course, I've always prayed for our future kiddos, but this was a much more specific type of prayer that I was coincidentally beginning to pray WHILE I was pregnant). God is cool and weird sometimes.
Check out our pregnancy announcement video here.
I wish I can say the fear went away after
that, but the fear carried on for about 3
weeks. I stuck with my faith prayers and
worked through it. I blogged about some of my specific fears and how I conquered
them over at this blog post.
And I know you never stop being fearful,
but I believe in big faith and targeting
specific fears that cause anxiety, so that's
what I did.
This is something I learned after dealing with trauma and I've taught myself (with some help from good friends) how to heal (continually and in every new season) from the
kind of fear that crosses into unnatural anxiety. It isn't easy, but it's possible.
My fear eased up and faith and confidence started to kick in as we moved forward. Our month was a little crazy after that. 6 days after finding out, I hopped on a plane to host a 500 person event with Trades of Hope and my team. I had many speaking roles and
hosting duties, and it was a little overwhelming with my new-found pregnancy and the onslaught of morning sickness. But all of our Compassionate Entrepreneurs were SO
sweet to me and made it the BEST experience.
A couple months later, we were hit with Hurricane Irma and our entire town shut down for a week. Everyone was hunkering down, boarding up windows, and buying enough junk food to last them to the end of the world. It was a little crazy, but we got through
it and were not negatively impacted other then some flooding on our street. Our poor
town is still recovering though!
Around this time, I began to start to feel super comfortable being pregnant and was
starting to really understand my body and it's needs.
I found that, at least for me:
- I had morning sickness and the throw ups every morning, but it was not as bad as I thought it'd be. Honestly, you get used to everything. As long as I didn't let it interrupt my day and get me down, I could deal with it fine. (TMI: Also, drinking a TON of water as soon as I got up helped me throw up clean and easy without vomiting important calories. I just replaced the water later).
- Swallowing and digesting harsher food was a lot harder, so I need to drink water with every meal or I'd get indigestion. (Something I never had before). I wasn't exhausted or overly emotional like many said I'd be. Honestly, other then feeling a little bloated and having morning sickness, I felt pretty much like Chelsie. And I liked that. So far, so good! Not trying to diminish anyone else's experiences, but I like to share the good just in case it encourages someone too.
- Gaining weight is a lot harder then everyone told me it'd be, just because of my body type. So I have to intentionally go out of the way to eat more foods. I just
really like my fruit, guys!
- Exercising helped being sick, but lifting weights made me dizzy so walking helped a TON.
- Getting good books to research pregnancy INSTEAD of googling (and seeing all those terrifying, fear mongering things) was SUPER helpful in managing fear.
So maybe those will help you! Or maybe they'll just be for me to look back on and
Right at the end of the first trimester and the tailend of Hurricane Irma, we hopped on a plane to Washington D.C. I'm helping homeschool my brother this semester (#homeschoolkidsunite) and we planned a fun trip to help him learn some history. (Plus, it was nice escaping to some AC as we were out of power for a good part of the week).
So Ryan and I had fun galavanting around D.C., visiting our friend Elisabeth, seeing the historical sites, and visiting Mount Vernon. It was here that I was certain I saw my belly bump for the first time. I'm kind of lanky, so it's hard for others to see, but there is
definitely a little something going on.
Apparently, I'm now 15 weeks this week, instead of the 14 I thought. We went in for our 2nd appointment and heard the baby's heartbeat again and scheduled our appointment for finding out the gender, which is exciting!
Anyway, that's kind of a recap for you and somewhat for me. I want to remember all of my experiences and I love blogging, so I figured I'd let you in on some of the updates as well.
For the next few months, we have lots of exciting things planned including a trip to the mountains to see the leaves, a birthday/costume party, a gender reveal party, and a
Harry Potter marathon.
And of course, we are still adamantly praying in big faith for our baby and all that
he/she will be one day.
Until the next update. Thanks for reading, sweet friend!
P.S. The formatting is wonky in this blog post. I spent forevs trying to fix it and finally
gave up, but so sorry if it was weird to read because of it. <3
Real moment. In the ways I used to think, in terms of my legalistic, old way of thinking, I am getting worse. I curse more, cry more, drink more, post less ‘Christiany’ quotes, and wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life and why in the world could there possibly be so much pain in this world and ask ‘why, God??’ and 'I don’t understand!’ and “what is the deal!?’ more. (just being honest). In my old ways of thinking, I’ve certainly strayed off the path that leads to righteousness. But in the ways of grace, I am learning that I am becoming whole. The shallow has vanished and all that has been left is the deep anguish of my soul and hallelujah, I can finally be real - I am broken too. For all the anger and confusion and sadness I’ve found in the world, I’ve also learned that loving Jesus is not about becoming good or climbing a metaphorical ladder to purity within the Christian life. My pious, devoted, "good” ways were tainted with a subconscious, subtle striving, a need to please, a need to portray that the standard of a good Christian could be achieved and that my brokenness could be mended by my inner strength. I was left wrecked, having given more than I had, in debt to myself and hopeless that my striving was me running around in a circle.
Then grace came and I was allowed to be vulnerable and too much and not enough and allowed to have a lack and thus allowed to be free. And I feel loved by him. I could weep with the authenticity I can say that with that I could never have understood before. I am not better than I was, but I feel so utterly loved by Jesus that I don’t care anymore. I feel like I actually, genuinely can love others. Because brokenness never goes away and pain exists in the worst way and we never get better in the shallow sense of the word, but we, hand in hand, go deeper into Jesus’ grace. A grace that acknowledges the darkness of life, and how it can really just suck…but a grace that also redeems all things, that mends the brokenness and gives hope and love in the midst. I feel like, even in my whys and confusion and sin, this whole thing makes sense. Pain and anger and sadness and joy and everything that has happened to my family and to me and to everyone makes sense in the light of the cross and grace is all there is. Jesus loves me, this I know and it’s finally all I know and that simplicity brings such peace.
maybe Jesus wasn’t the guy sitting quietly in the pews next to us as kids, whispering solemn prayers under his breath and looking a little too serious. maybe Jesus is the kid next to you, poking you and whispering too loud and asking if maybe, just maybe you want to escape the boxed in hell-hole version of God we’ve all created out of a culture that wasn’t okay with a poor man getting a rich man’s wage. maybe he is the little boy next to you asking you if you’d rather go outside and run fast with him, and laugh a little louder than you’ve been told is allowed, and choose to see the gray of the world a little deeper without immediately calling “black” or “white” or “wrong” “right”. we wanted too many don’ts and Jesus fiercely whispers ‘do’ in a voice that rumbles with laughter and perhaps so much glee that it could be found disrespectful in the red-rimmed, tired eyes of the all too serious do-gooder adults that want to smack the light out of the childrens’ hands because they have forgotten what it is like to play.
Jesus is in the gay man’s joy and the little child’s belches and the running and running and the sun that seeps through the clouds while you lay on a picnic blanket letting its warmth touch your eyes in a way that screams more, more, more and we all know it but no one wants to say it. Jesus is not the reserved and refined man we thought he was, but he is the man that eats with drunkards and gamblers and all those the religious snidely deem ‘off limits.’ and he does not just sit in a corner and ‘associate’ with them…. like the church does with their token gay friend, secretly judging from behind protective religious cages…. but Jesus chooses them first. he engulfs himself in them, throwing himself into their experiences, feeling their joy, eating their food, perhaps laughing too much and filling with affection at every turn. he sees the shock on his friend’s faces when they understand that their long awaited messiah chose to define himself not as an unemotional, disconnected man who loved rules and black and whites and ‘that’s enough’ and ‘try harders’ and ‘stop doing this’, but defined himself instead by loving fiercely in the gray, by saying ‘it’s enough’ ‘you can have more joy. more good. more love. more than this,’ by stirring up trouble where he knew trouble was needed, by holding the hand of the dying in the dirt filled corner, holding their filth and weeping into their shoulder as he saw the affects of poverty, of prejudice, of suicide, of brokenness, of rule bent religion, the affects of the hatred that had seeped into a world that had forgotten how to love and protect one another.
and gosh darn it. i don’t want to follow the man in the corner of the church, so intent on wrongs and rights that he does not see the people beside him. i tried that man and his edges were not able to cover all of the pain that stretches just too far, his shallowness not able to reach the deepness of heartbreak that runs just too deep. i want to follow the man in the bar, roaring with laughter with his arm thrown around his brother, speaking radical grace, radiating love and light and joy and full of so much abundant life that covers our deep pain with his tenderness.
and do my thoughts go too far? a lot of people will probably think so. but i think Jesus went too far for us and i’m done believing in the culture-created Jesus that never goes far enough to actually cover the darkness and evil and filth and pulsing hatred and sadness and outright sobs of the world. I am learning that he does go far enough, and I will go farther with him too, far enough to cover this darkness with his glorious, unabashed, wound healing, hate destroying laughter of love.
once upon a time.
we were all children. beautiful and unfiltered, bold and untainted. we ran through meadows without shoes, we kissed frogs, and laughed at nothing, we marveled at little moments…not understanding what the big picture of anything was. we hugged whoever we wanted, we let our hair tangle and our voice go hoarse and we loved. my, how we loved. we loved without question, seeing beauty in all and letting our little hearts fill the spaces and holes and brokenness of others.
and then we thought we woke up.
we suddenly snapped out of something. the colors of the world suddenly went gray. we stopped marveling, stopped wondering, stopped doing things merely for the sake of making our eyes light up. we looked at the big picture now. and the big picture painted ugliness over our lives. we tried to love, but only saw cracks, and pain, oozing, and filth. when we could not love others, we looked to ourselves and tried the simple task of liking our own hearts, something that once came easy and freely. we could not do it. we destroyed ourselves, ripping our own heart to shreds. we were left broken and convinced that our childlike life was a mirage, a mere time built from the hopes of our imagination, of our rose colored glasses, a time good only because we could not see the truth. and this truth is that life is ugly, filthy, dirty, and dark. we thought we found the truth and this false truth enslaved us.
and then……we wake up.
truth. it’s a glimpse. one night, you’re deep in work on your computer, worry line crinkled between your eyes, fear rooted deep in your heart. suddenly, your husband grabs your hand and whispers in your ear. he wants to go night swimming. something you haven’t done in years. you hem and haw and you whine about work being left undone. but he carries you to the lake anyway. you know it’s freezing, but he makes you count to three and you both cannonball.
it’s a glimpse.
as you emerge from the icy water, life swings into place again. you gaze at the stars and feel the cold seep into your bones and look at your sweetheart through eyelashes of teardrops and lake water. the big picture can wait. there is only now. there is beauty. and every second is a lifetime and every person is made for love. the gray has passed away and the night is not black, but shades of purple, and blue, and made up of a glorious light that can only be seen when the night is there to reveal it. our childlike wonder grew scabbed over with darkness. but darkness cannot put it out. the light will creep through. this night. more nights. it will creep through until you break, and you will wonder why you break and why you hurt and why you know there is more, but it is because beauty is growing again, stronger than the first time and with an understanding of what it costs.
you were a child once. but then you knew darkness. and darkness taught you the freedom of light. and then you were a child once more, living in the truth of darkness defeated.
I remember that, as a child, I was so confident in who I was. So sure of my purpose. So utterly okay with myself, so much so that I would do crazy things, things like speaking, things like traveling, things like writing. I was fearless in the best possible way.
But over the last few years, fearlessness was lost. I have spent the last three years desperately trying to find it again. Trying to figure out if it was just a mirage childhood paints over each of us, or if it was truly a quality my creator endowed into my spirit. As I searched and prayed for this quality again, I tried to understand how I lost it. What had severed my connection with the bravery of having an understood identity? This is the conclusion I have come to:
Fearlessness was lost when I started associating who I am with where I measured against other people.
Comparisons were sucking the life right out of me.
As I grew into an adult, I taught my heart ever so subconsciously that other people were doing bigger, better, grander things and gosh darn it, if I couldn't top it, my life was pretty much a big fat failure.
I became a comparison junky. I stopped placing my identity in the person God had called me to be, and started placing it in the fact that people were out to overshadow my success. When we do this, other people become a threat to us and we slowly start to lose our sense of purpose.
You might not struggle with this....but in a world of social media craziness....it's kind of hard not to. We get bombarded with people's "best" 24/7, and for a person who struggles with perfectionism, I set a standard over my life that is impossible to fulfill. And when I can't fulfill it, I get mad, I get fearful, and I get lost.
Some ways to tell if you're stuck in comparisons?
1. People who compare become upset at other people's success.
You might not understand why. Your head might even know it's wrong, but your heart can't help but to feel twinges of misery when you see someone's amazing Instagram pictures, or FB statuses, or awesome tweets. It's the "ugh" feeling of.....'cool for them, but why not me?" You might not be visibly or actively wishing for their demise, but your heart is not rooting for them. This is dangerous, because God does call us to root for other people. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love others. There in and of itself lies hints of our identity and our purpose. If we aren't rooting for other people, half of our identity is lost. When half your identity is lost, you're going to be walking around wondering why you have no joy, why you have no strength, why you have no fearlessness.
2. People who compare are not willing to give credit to others.
Let's face it. You work hard. Really hard. And when someone compliments you, it feels good. It gives you a sense of self assurance, a sense of worth, a sense of satisfaction. What happens when someone compliments someone else for something you might have had a part in? That can be really rough. Those moments are when I learn the most about my character. Along those same lines, are you actively looking for ways to point to others, to honor others, to give credit to how they've attributed to your wins? Hey look, if we aren't willing to admit that others had a part in our success, we will lose every time. If you don't pay honor to those who helped build your success you might get ahead, but you are also going to go horribly and utterly alone.
3. People who compare place themselves in circle of friends where they can be the top dog/the smartest/the best, rather than aligning themselves with people that can teach them, grow them, and have gone before them.
When you suffer from the comparison game, you often position yourself for the short term win. And when I say 'short term win,' I mean that you position yourself to win a small footrace, rather than training for the Olympics. I love a quote from John Maxwell that says something along the lines of, "if you're at the top of your class, you're probably in the wrong class." It can be scary moving to a new class where everyone is more experienced, more intelligent, and wiser than you. Don't let it threaten you. You will grow more than ever before and growth will lead you to purpose. You were meant to run in the Olympics, so stop running that silly footrace.
4. People who compare suffer from discouragement, exhaustion, and the feeling of always wanting to give up.
It's because you are running the wrong race that secretly goes in a circle. When we compare, we run the race of accomplishment, a race that goes nowhere. But we are called to run the race of purpose. A life ran toward purpose understands that no other person is in their race. Hoping for another’s success does not diminish your own success, just like insulting another’s success does not increase your own. We are called to a purpose that no one else can fulfill. It might take us quite a while to run it, but that's okay. When you're running toward purpose and you know that everyone's rooting for you [not competing against you] running hard becomes a whole lot easier (and more fun too!). If you can understand this, you'll be confident in your steps. Sure in your stride. Understanding of your identity.
Nothing illustrates a life lead with purpose like the life of John the Baptist. Called from a young age to be the forerunner of Jesus, proclaiming his name and preparing hearts for his grace, it could have been pretty easy for John the Baptist to become jealous and give up his purpose. He had a pretty good thing going with publicity and crowds and all that jazz.....and then Jesus came on the scene and John's ministry got smaller and seemingly less awesome. How would we have reacted to something like this? Someone taking our name, taking our crowds, taking our ministry, our position? The little fame we've got going on through Twitter already has us freaking out.......so how would we have dealt with John's situation?
You see, John knew his true purpose. He just keeps pointing to Jesus. He actually says "He must increase, but I must decrease." Holy mackeral, can I just have this quality please?? How do we start to attain the sense of destiny and humility that John the Baptist has? Here are a few quick things I've noticed about John the Baptist that are helping me deal with comparisons in my own life:
1. John the Baptist never stops giving honor where honor is due.
John knows who gave him the word to preach and he attributes none of it to himself. If it's not his, he can never lose it. Eternal destiny can never be taken from us. God gave him his gifting and John points it all right back to him. John never compares himself to others or to Jesus, John knows exactly who he is and what he's there for, and that is enough. Let's give honor to Jesus for what he's given us and then honor those around us who have been part of our success.
2. John the Baptist knows his purpose and his purpose is to point to Jesus' success.
His purpose is to make the way for Jesus coming after him. His purpose rested solely on the lifting up of another. Is that not what we are called to do on this Earth? Can we start to position ourselves to point to Jesus and point to others.....and stop always jumping up and down, yelling "me! me! me!"?
3. John the Baptist was bold, John the Baptist knew he had a unique message, John the Baptist was fearless.
The above two points allow us to be bold and from this boldness, we will reap joy and fulfillment. You know why John could afford to be so bold? Because he gave honor where it was due and he knew what his purpose was. John wasn't afraid of another's success, because he knew that within that person's success was his destiny. John positioned himself to point to God and to point to others...... and this yielded boldness. Out of this boldness comes joy and fulfillment, worth and fearlessness.
As we each discover what our purpose is, we must understand that at the core of it all lies our calling to love God and love others. If our lives do not exemplify this, we have missed our purpose. When we love God and root for one another, we free ourselves from the threat of comparisons. Fearfulness will cease and we will begin to live a life of growth, joy, and of purpose.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3