Have you ever looked at the people around you and felt like they have it all together and you don’t?
This week’s post is kind of a follow up to something Deanne shared in her guest post a couple of weeks ago. It is so very easy to worry about and compare ourselves with others. Like Deanne shared, we know the truth. We know what God’s Word says about who we are, but even as Christians, we still struggle with comparing ourselves and even our spiritual journeys with those of the people around us.
I know there have been times in my life where I looked at what God was doing in others’ lives and didn’t see Him doing that in my life and I panicked, thinking that something must be wrong with me that He’s not moving in my life like that. The reality was, though, that He was at work in my life all along. I just didn’t see, at the time, all the things He was preparing me for, for me to see, and to work in me. Instead, I spent years of my life watching other people’s relationships with God and wondering what was wrong with me that He didn’t do that exact same thing in my own life or why He didn’t speak to me the way He did to them. Expecting Him to work a certain way, I think, sometimes can delay our ability to see that He is already working. Because we’re so focused on what we expect Him to do, we are blinded to what He’s already doing or what He’s already done.
Many times I would beat myself up because I didn’t “feel” God there or I didn’t see Him doing in my life what He was doing in someone else’s life instead of just letting Him do what He wanted in my life, trusting Him to know what I needed, and believing that He was at work on me even when I didn’t always see it or when I felt like I didn’t measure up to the other Christians around me. As someone who struggles with perfectionism, I told myself continually, without really meaning to, that there was a formula for everything and I was not measuring up. But there isn’t a formula for the way God works. Part of my struggle was that I was afraid to really take the time to stop and listen because I was afraid He wouldn’t speak to me, that I wasn’t good enough to hear from Him. I had believed lies that kept me from seeing what God was orchestrating in my life, that kept me from truly seeking Him out.
When I finally stepped past those lies and stopped comparing my relationship with Him to others’ relationships with Him, when I finally stopped worrying over how He was speaking to others and how it didn’t seem to be the same way He was speaking to me, then I began to hear His voice for myself and my relationship with Him began to become my own. For so long, He patiently worked on me and in me to get me to see that He did indeed want to speak to me, that I was worth it to Him, that I could trust Him to speak to me, and that I could trust Him to reveal what I needed to know from Him just as I needed it and that I didn’t need to be worried about what He was doing in someone else’s life or how He was doing it. That wasn’t my plumb line to know if He was at work in my life. The truth of His Word was.
We can be confident that the work He began in us, He will complete. If you are His child, He has begun a work in you and He will be faithful to complete it. In HIS perfect and omniscient timing. Don’t let anyone else or the enemy make you feel like you are less than, like God won’t work in your life. He will work in you and on you. He already is. You just may not see the fruits of it yet. I can attest to this. I have seen it in my own life. It takes time for God to work, for Him to make perfect His plans in us. It’s okay to not be perfect, it’s okay to not be okay. God uses that in us to grow us and change us. It’s not about perfection. That won’t be reached this side of heaven. It’s about growth, change, a difference being made visible in who you are, in how you behave. We’ve got to give God time to work on us, time for Him to break down our walls and barriers, time for Him to show us things He knows we need to see.
Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your relationship with God to anyone else’s. Sure, we share some similarities and we can gain hope by seeing that God is at work in someone else’s life, especially when it’s something we also struggle with, but God may not answer that need in your life the same way He answers it in theirs. Don’t box Him in. He knows you more intimately than any other. He knows the true source of your struggle better than any other. He knows exactly what you need even when you don’t know what you need, and even when you think you need something else besides what He’s got planned. He knows what we need and we need to trust Him to deliver it to us when our hearts are most “ripe” for it and ready to receive it.
God wants us to take heart, to be encouraged by the fact that we are not alone in our struggles, but He wants us to be dependent on Him to work in our own lives rather than dependent on what we see in someone else’s relationship with Him. He wants us to come to Him and let Him work. He wants us to know Him more intimately for ourselves, which means seeking Him on our own and listening for His voice on our own and learning to hear His voice and what it sounds like on our own. What others go through and what they share with us is meant to be a gift of encouragement, but most certainly not the source of how we see our relationship with Him.
There comes a point when your relationship with God has to stop being based on what you see Him doing in someone else’s life. And trust me, If you are His child, He will make it happen. He wants to make Himself known to you and to draw you into a deeper relationship with Him. Give Him time and trust Him to do it and He will. He will work His way past all the defenses only He knows you have in place. In His perfect timing, when you’re ready, He will reveal what you need to know about yourself and about Him. Trust Him to do it. Trust Him to be at work in your life. Don’t stress if what you see Him doing in someone else’s life isn’t playing out the same way in yours. He knows you more intimately than anyone else. He knows exactly what you need and He is the answer to it all. He is The Great I Am.
What does God want to do in YOUR life, not your neighbor’s?