Friday, January 23, 2015

The Thief of Joy

I'm celebrating a tiny little victory today - extremely minuscule, really, but significant to me. Probably a year or so ago, an invitation to join a particular online community that a certain woman had created kept popping up in my Facebook newsfeed. I noticed that quite a few of my friends were a part of it, so I thought it might be worth checking out. As I explored the site, I experienced an almost immediate, strongly negative response to the material. No great mystery as to why: she was everything I aspired to be! She was a worship leader and speaker, she had written a book, she was a successful blogger, she was a singer/songwriter/musician - and she was younger than me! Consumed by jealousy I would never admit to, I deleted the request. After that, I muttered a little under my breath every time I saw that one of my friends had "liked" one of the posts, but just generally ignored the existence of it and eventually kind of forgot...

It was plain old ugly pride, no doubt about it. And an embarrassing throw-back to my younger days when I took great comfort in being the "best" singer in my little world. (I think we all want to be thought the best at something - anything, really.) Since singing came so easily to me, it was something I was willing to work at - a bit, anyway. And I really wasn't the best - not even in my very small circle of other people who sang...there were a lot of really wonderful vocal talents in my small-town church and school. I just got a good amount of recognition and opportunity, which served to cultivate the split personality I developed quite early on in life. On the outside I appeared capable, confident, intelligent, independent; but inside, the real Joy, was another story entirely. Self-hatred, condemnation, doubt, fear, guilt, anger and shame continually wreaked havoc on my self-esteem.

I've shared extensively about my past issues here in this space, as well as the many victories and miracles and healing I've experienced. But I want to say today that this journey has not been a straight, simple, linear, upward ascent. It seems that every time I make some progress in a particular issue, another one pops up to take its place. Comparison-slash-envy is the monster currently rearing its ugly head in my life. As I take faltering baby steps in response to God's calling, I'm distracted by what others are accomplishing, achieving, creating, producing - and I get discouraged. Now, logic would tell me that this is an unreasonable reaction. Their calling is not mine. Their gifting is not mine. They are not me. This is especially irrational when I compare myself with someone who's been playing the piano or publishing books or writing songs or what have you for years and years - I'm comparing my worst, or at the very least, my beginnings, with their best. Joy, this is not fair to you! Stop it! Right now!

A wise man once said that "comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt, I think. He was so right! The point here is not how much better or worse my skills or creations or efforts are compared to anyone else. It's not about that at all - it's about me being faithful to what God has called me to do. And that's all. Because what He's called me to is different than the calling He has for you. Kind of takes the pressure off, doesn't it? I don't have to live up to anyone's standards or expectations but His. That thought would be completely daunting and intimidating if I didn't know that when He calls, He also equips. He's giving me everything I need to carry out His plans for me. Plus, He loves me - I'm continually, increasingly overwhelmed by how deep and sweet and satisfying that love is...He really is all I need.


Oh, my teeny, tiny victory? Well, last night I repented of my prideful attitude, took a deep breath and accepted the invitation to join the aforementioned community. And thus discovered a wealth of wisdom and encouragement and common ground - just as I'd feared :) Thankful for yet another source of inspiration and revelation...and for another baby step in the right direction!

1 comment:

  1. God bless you Joy! That is a great victory and God has given you the strength and wisdom to speak the Truth to those lies we have believed all these years. Woohoo! I'm rootin' for ya! I know you can do it!