I Think God is Holding out on Me

It’s never enough. We double tap, we snap, we share. And it’s never enough. Someone always has it better, someone is always happier, thinner, and every other “-er” you can think of. And we want it. We want “-er” so badly because we feel good to be noticed. We want people to like and applaud us. Applause is the sound our culture and generation loves so much.

“I want you to love me like I love me!” Our culture screams, “Self-care,” and, “You do you.”

“It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.”

But we’re hurting. All of us. Why has “self-care” generation turned into the such a self-obsessed, attention-hogging, empty, and jealous generation?

Is it ironic? No. Inevitable? Yes.

I would love to write about how I defeated comparison once and for all, as if it’s not something I battle. But we’re talking present tense here, because like most struggles, they come back again. Sometimes they’ll resurface in a different area than before. I know I face comparison in different ways than I did at 18 years old.

If I pretend comparison doesn’t exist, I ignore a huge problem in my life. I think we all struggle with this. We always hear discussion around social media, and how it’s a comparison black hole. I am uncomfortable living a life that is always looking to the next best thing, the next best upgrade, the next season of life, and the person next to me who has the next best thing.

It’s my search for “enough” that has kept me running after things that are really not designed to fulfill me.

You know what that “thing” is for you. I know what mine is. Sometimes more than one thing comes to mind.

With each area of comparison we question what God is doing, or what he’s not doing. With comparison, we mostly question what he’s not doing on our time and our agenda. We question God’s heart when we have our eye on something that looks better.

It sounds a lot like Adam and Eve when they ate from the tree. God told them not to eat from one tree. Satan tempts Eve and she starts to believe that God is holding out on her by asking her not to eat from this forbidden tree. Isn’t it funny that what looks like God holding out on us is actually just his protection?

He gives us this entire garden and to protect us from destruction, he creates boundaries. These boundaries are purposeful, but they look an awful lot like hindrances to what we love. What if we truly believed God wasn’t holding out on us? We would live with more freedom, purpose, and joy in each season.

So how do we tackle this? How do we get past the rotten comparison that our good ol’ friend Pinterest says is “the thief of joy”?

Here are some thoughts to help you navigate:

Comparison attacks the areas we care about the most. God made us the way we are for a reason–for purpose. But with those qualities come a responsibility to use them well. If we aren’t careful we can idolize these areas that we care about. Soon enough these comparison traps are our idols. For instance, we might be idolizing recognition or fame when we compare social media likes. We might be idolizing our body image we compare it.

The ladder of thankfulness helps you climb out of the rut. Being thankful is hard when you’re complaining…and complaining is hard when you’re thankful. You really can’t have them at the same time, so which choice wins?

My prayer is that you will choose thankfulness. You see, thankfulness is the key to freedom from jealousy, greed, and coveting.

I don’t want to fear lack of; I want to rest in abundance of. When we are too busy looking at what others have, we miss the gold right in front of our eyes. Eve thought she was lacking something. If we can get good at identifying the gold, that is a thankful heart, we will rest in our abundance that God has provided.

Fear implies I’m in control, but rest implies God is in control. And how good is Jesus at multiplying small amounts of things anyway (hint: very good)? We can rest in his control; we can rest in abundance.

It’s not about me. In the end, comparison focuses on “me” rather than God. If I’m going to really get this thing right, it has to be about a life after God’s heart and not a mountain of blessings.

So how can I practically process this in my own life when the comparison monster creeps its way in? Well, here are some questions I ask myself to dodge the monster’s unwelcome stay in my heart:

Where/how does comparison show up in my heart?

What does my comparison reveal that I am fearing? What do I believe God is holding back from me?  

What is God’s truth about my comparison?

Can I trust God to fulfill my desires? Be honest, and think of ways he’s been faithful in the past.

So now we’ve identified the areas. How do we change our hearts? It always begins with thankfulness.

What is the JOY of this area (what are you thankful for)?

What is the work of this area (what is God asking of me with what he’s given me)?

YOU have purpose, promises of God on your life, and you are called to do extraordinary things whether you believe it or not. God created you to live in this moment, to influence the specific set of people around you, all for his kingdom. Living with eternity in mind is our goal as we pursue his call on our lives. If you ever need a reminder of that, you can read any of these Bible passages: Philippians 4:6-13, Hebrews 10:19-39, Psalm 139, and Proverbs 4:25-27.

Here’s the challenge:

If you need to create a habit of thankfulness, draw a ladder (or imagine one if you’re not the drawing type). Add a rung on the ladder for every thing you’re thankful for. Look at the rungs and see what God is doing! Look at his faithfulness and provision over your life.

And watch yourself climb out of that pit, girlfriend.

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Here’s the Story

So I wanted to share how Her Greater Joy got started. My testimony (fancy word for what God has done in my life) will always be the birthplace of that. Wherever you find yourself, God wants to use it all.

I guess my passion for writing begins from when I was little, but I didn’t notice it until college. I have always journaled in my time with God. It’s just how I communicate with Him, how I allow Scripture to really sink into my heart, and sometimes how I process what God’s doing.

In 2014 I moved with my family from Florida to California. I was fresh out of high school with no major direction for my life. I’ve always loved leading worship, so I thought I would end up at some type of music school. But I stayed with my family and enrolled in community college. A simultaneously boring and exciting fresh start. In hindsight, I know God had mapped this out for me.

By the end of my semester, not even six months after moving across the country, my mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. It completely and utterly sucked. In a matter of one sentence of delivered results that had “cancer” in it, my life shifted from happy-go-lucky to grim and teary-eyed days.

Thank God for best friends who skip classes on crappy days to get coffee with you and just hug you while you cry and agree that it’s not fair (a great tip if you have a grieving friend or loved one).

The new normal was hard, and I asked off work at my new job to sit with my mom during chemotherapy. We watched Gilmore Girls and made the best of it. When my sister got out of school for the day, we’d get a snack and walk around Target if my mom had enough energy. We didn’t make plans but we made every day fun if it was possible.

I started writing. I started reading Bible verses that were my only source of hope. And I wrote from that place. I wrote about how things were just different. I wrote about God’s goodness through it all, about the bad days, and about His peace.

Well, this routine of “normal” lasted from December to July. In the middle of July we found out the cancer progressed to stage four and she didn’t have long. My dad, sister, and I sat on the guest bedroom floor and talked about what the future looked like without my mom. It was natural conversation based on what was in front of us, but I hated hearing it come out of my mouth.

This wasn’t what I prayed for. It wasn’t what I thought healing meant. I wanted her healing to be something I could see. Something here on earth. But to my dread, July 29th, 2015 became an anniversary. There was a lot of grace that day for my little heart. I had no capacity to perceive all of it, but God just met me there. And he was with me like he always promised.

But God will walk with you through your gut-wrenching pain, and he will pick up the pieces.

I have seen restoration, and I have seen God’s hand in the details. I know that if you find yourself in a dark and tear-filled routine, God sees you and he knows you. He didn’t cause this mess. He’s actually here to help you walk through it.

One of these details in my life being that God placed two amazing women in my life to play the mom role in my life after mine was no longer here. One happens to be the woman my dad remarried. These two helped me on my wedding day, and every moment between. God showed me his character through people. They loved and they lived out Romans 12:15 like I’ve never seen before.

Now, I’ve gone through many, many counseling sessions, my dad’s marriage, college (one baby step at a time), and my own marriage. I have kept up with writing and publishing it as much as I can. But with change after change, one thing remains: my vision for this space.

I want to communicate with other women that need hope. And if you find yourself reading this, you’re part of that vision. I want you to know that you can access peace and joy wherever you’re at. When you feel shaken, God is your rock. When you face job loss, divorce, grief, breakups, or stress, I want to dig deep to that place with God.

He loves you, sees you, and knows you. He created you with purpose and I hope God speaks to you through these little words I write. The world needs the hope you offer.

“The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV).

“You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine” (Psalm 4:7 NLT)

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