Then Peter opened his mouth, and said,
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons …”
I gotta be honest—I love Scripture, I do, but frankly, the Scripture above is one of the few that always rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, the idea of God not respecting us, which is how I always read it, just grates, you know?
I know, I know, that’s not what it means—it means God shows no partiality. Which, from the perspective of a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) who was often the butt of family jokes growing up and clearly not the favorite of a mother who fawned over my baby sister, should be a relief. And it is. God has no favorites—He loves each of His children the same.
And yet, as human beings, we want to be special. We want to outshine others. We want to be #1, the favorite child, the “best” friend, the thinnest girl in the room, the top worker, the most popular person, the best-selling author. We compare, which is deadly. Because the truth is we are “special” —to a God who loves each of us for who we are, no less or more than anyone else, and yet, somehow, “special” all the same. Faith O’Connor tells her little sister, Katie, in A Hope Undaunted, “You own a little piece of God’s heart, Katie, like a piece of a puzzle that’s missing. A piece nobody else can fill.” And I honestly believe that’s true—we are that special to God, each of us—uniquely special in that no other person can fill that part of His heart devoted to us, no one. We are that beat of His heart that would be out of rhythm without us, and yet He does it all without comparing.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. —Isaiah 55:8.
And THANK GOD!! Because if God compared us to each other like we compare ourselves to each other, it would be a very sad day for the world. Comparison is a cancer that eats away at all that God has called us to be, all that He hopes to give us as children of His heart.
“Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. — Psalm 16:5-6
And yet, we do it. Over and over and over again. And it not only hurts us, but it hurts God who made each of us in His image and calls each of us “the apple of His eye,” — Zechariah 2:8.
For instance, just this morning, Keith came in to thank me for something stupid like making coffee for him mid-morning with cinnamon on the grounds. “You’re so good to me,” he said, and I winced. “Not near as good as you are to me,” I say, knowing full well that if my daughter were present, she would make gagging sounds over the “love fest” we always display in our home.
But that’s how I feel—like Keith gives WAY more to me than I do for him. Why? Because I compare. Let’s see, Keith makes most of the money, pays the bills, does work inside of the house and out, helps me with computer stuff and artwork ALL the time, never makes me walk, but always drops me off at the door, constantly comes to see me downstairs on the lower deck throughout the day to say hi, chat or give me a kiss, brings me a snack at 5:00 PM, tells me I’m good-looking (that alone is worth the price of the ticket!!) and is just flat-out kind and understanding whenever I lose my cool (like daily!).
Me? Uh … I clean the house on special occasions (when my prayer partners come over every three weeks, holidays and when we have company), do laundry every week and a half or so, cook a meal maybe once a week (my daughter is into cooking these days in a big way, so PRAISE GOD!!), make our bed, make coffee … uh … uh … yeah, that’s about it. All I can say is THANK GOD Keith doesn’t compare, or I would be up the proverbial creek … although, he would probably not only bring me the paddle, but get in and do all the work! Sigh.
I HATE comparing because it always means one little girl in the class is an outcast while another is the leader of the clique. Since I was one of the youngest from a family of thirteen, when all my siblings were in school, I had to attend all three kindergarten classes during the day because my parents didn’t want to make a special trip to pick me up separately. Fortunately for me, I became the teacher’s pet (she gave me and me alone a peppermint each day!) and would you believe, kids used to fight over holding my hand on the playground? Pretty heady stuff for a little girl who was ostracized by her own family, let me tell you.
And then reality struck like the back of a hand when we switched schools and the trauma of it resulted in an outbreak of psoriasis on my arms and legs, forcing me to wear knee socks and sweaters during the hot weather so kids wouldn’t make fun of me. A futile attempt on my part since the old nun who taught 2nd grade used to ask me in front of the whole class, “Are you sure it’s not leprosy?” Any of you who have read A Hope Undaunted will remember this very story from Katie’s past as well. And, like Katie’s story, I changed schools in the 5th grade, hardened and determined to be myself no matter what people thought. So I ditched the socks and sweaters and lo and behold, the sunlight cleared up my psoriasis and I became one of the most popular kids in the class again.
One would think that this ping-pong popularity would make me determined to be part of the in crowd, but it had the exact opposite effect. I HATE partiality and favoritism and find myself drawn to those who others ignore. That is the chief reason I am SO big on encouragement because we ALL need it—to feel God’s love through someone’s kind words, sweet smile or a soulful prayer. That year in the 5th grade, the in crowd invited me to join them and I very nicely turned them down, choosing to play on the playground with the kids that the in crowd spurned, because I used to be one of them. And to be honest, they were more fun and kind anyway.
This week I had the incredible pleasure of reading for endorsement a book by one of my dearest friends, Laura Frantz—Love’s Reckoning—and it is simply one of the best books I have ever read in the CBA, affecting me like few other books have ever been able to do. It’s haunting and stunning and heart-wrenching and exquisite … so was I tempted to compare? Oh, you bet, and next to Laura, I truly felt like a hack and would have been severely depressed if I didn’t love Laura the person so darn much. But just as the inclination came to belittle my own writing in the face of Laura’s, God whispered in that still, small voice of His that I am His and He has called me to do exactly what I am doing in exactly the way I am doing it. “Do not turn to the right or the left, Julie, but keep your foot from evil,” He whispered (Proverbs 4:27), “do not compare because I do not!”
Go ahead, I challenge you to think about the areas in your life that trouble you right now, that bring you down and cause problems. Are any of them related to you comparing yourself, your situation, your family, your job, your person, your life to anyone else? If so, it’s a cancer, and God implores us to stop it—to not look to the right or the left, but straight ahead, eyes fixed on Him and the path He has chosen for each of us.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11
Like Faith O’Connor tells Katie, in A Hope Undaunted: “If I’ve learned anything from painful experience, Katie, it’s that God’s will is the path to my ultimate happiness … and yours.”
Trust me, like Faith, I have learned this lesson first hand—more times than I can count. And what I have discovered when I find myself comparing is that the antidote, the chemo to this cancerous mindset is repentance coupled with a heart of gratitude. So THANK Him for all He has done in your life and all He yet plans to do. PRAISE Him in the good and praise Him in the bad, spitting in the eye of adversity because God holds you in the palm of His hand, and there is simply no better place to be. Always remember that each one of us is special, unique and wonderfully made in His sight, and we are, as Emma Malloy says in A Heart Revealed, “treasured possessions of a passionate God.” You own a piece of God’s heart that no one else can claim, you are that special, so never forget it. Trust me, God never does …
NEW FEATURE ON MY WEBSITE!! I read somewhere (Publisher’s Weekly, I think), where authors need to put excerpts on their websites because it increases sales, but I have been MOST negligent in this, so I have remedied that. I now have a tab on my website called “Excerpts,” where I list my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books, including my upcoming novel, A Love Surrendered. So spread the word if you know anyone you think might like my books—just direct them to my Excerpts link for a taste of my writing style and let’s see what happens, okay? Thank you SO much!!
HOLY COW, THE SALE IS STILL ON … Steven’s story, A Love Surrendered is ON SALE IN PRE-ORDER!!! For a very limited time, you can pre-order A Love Surrendered for only $7.72, which is almost half off, so if you plan to order it, NOW is the time to do it and if you do, PLEASE like the link, okay? Here are the links, but keep in mind that CBD.com’s sale price may not be loaded yet:
HAPPY WEEKEND, ALL!!