Girls are notorious for playing the comparison game. It’s second nature for some, an Olympic sport for others.
The sequence of events goes like this: 1: look 2: compare 3: condemn
Does that sound right to you?
Look: You know how it goes. You go to the grocery store (mall, gym, post office, bank, gas station, church, red light) and see some lady who has it all together. She’s slender, has the “perfect” hair color, manicured nails, cute clothes, great hairstyle and her purse and shoes match. Her kids are perfect little angels.
Compare: You decide that she: has the perfect life, perfect husband, perfect kids, perfect car, perfect house, takes vacations and doesn’t have to exercise, get her brows waxed or hair colored because she was born with a perfect everything.
You look at yourself. Your hair is pulled back, you may or may not still be wearing the sweats you wore to bed last night, you have peanut butter smeared into your t-shirt, you’re carrying your diaper bag/purse, and have Cheerios stuck in the bottom of your shoe and your kids are fighting. You fidget with your clothes in an attempt to cover those pounds you want to lose.
Condemn: Thoughts of inadequacy fill your head. The “I wish”, “if only”, “I should” and “you’re so…” phrases race through your mind. You pronounce yourself guilty of not measuring up.
Not measuring up? To who? To what? Who said so?
Take off the garments that are weighing you down and clothe yourself according to the One who created you for a divine purpose.
What lies do you believe about yourself?
What is can you let go of today?
By Nicole O’Dell
And what is IT exactly? I suppose, depending on what you’re talking about at the time, IT can be something you want to do that your parents think is unsafe: rock climbing, bungee jumping, sky diving, etc. It might seem like everyone else’s parents are soooo much cooler than yours because your friends all get to do those fun things.
Or IT can be something you want to do, something you’re tempted to do, even when you know it’s wrong: drink alcohol, skip school, have sex, etc. And maybe, just maybe it’s true that EVERYONE is doing that thing (though it isn’t true), and maybe, just maybe, by not doing it you won’t be popular or you’ll lose your boyfriend (better off without him—the big jerk).
The argument “but everybody’s doing it” is really the basis for all battles of peer pressure. I mean, seriously, would there be such a thing as peer pressure if there weren’t activities other people did that you wanted to avoid?
Let me give you some reasons for why your friends might pressure you:
- They know they’re wrong and want you to validate them by behaving the same way they are.
- They’re on a quest to see the “Christian” do something bad.
- They know your good behavior points a spotlight on their bad.
- They want what they want and aren’t worried about you.
Now, allow me to give you some reasons why it’s so important that you stick to what you know is right and not worry at all about what “everybody is doing”:
- Nothing is really done in secret. Even if you don’t get caught by your parents, Jesus knows.
- Once you start down a physical path to intimacy with your boyfriend, it’s so hard to go back.
- Some things, like the use of alcohol and drugs, are illegal.
- A good reputation is so hard to build, yet it will crash down like a house of cards.
- God has a better plan for you.
It’s tough to go against the crowd. Trust me, I know. I’m an old lady and every once in a while I still have to deal with the effects of some of the poor choices I made when I was young. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, and God’s forgiveness is immediate and permanent. But sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself and let go of the regret.
So, rather than find yourself in a situation you’ll regret one day, and all because of some spoiled brats who wanted to bring you down, stand tall, daughter of the King, and let your faith shine through your commitment to uphold His wishes for you—not theirs.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (I Corinthians 10:13, MSG)
I finished the test and sat back feeling relief. I had studied so hard. It was my one hundred question Constitution Test in fifth grade. I knew that I had aced it.
Oh, wait. I happened to glace at Jimmy’s paper next to me. I really wasn’t meaning to look at it, but I did. And I noticed he wrote John Adams on number three. John Adams? I put Thomas Jefferson down for that one. It had to be Thomas Jefferson. But Jimmy is one of the smartest kids in our class. I questioned myself. He must be right. So, guess what I did. I changed my answer.
And I got it wrong!
Besides this being an awesome story to teach why cheating is never good to do, it is a story that recently has been coming up in my mind because it so clearly demonstrates how girls, and even moms, can fall into the comparison game.
I happened to glance.
Just one glance at what your friend is wearing is fine. Of course, you will notice her new phone with the super cute bling-bling case. And, it is silly to think I will not notice my friend’s new decked out sports utility car when I am still driving a van where the bumper might or might not fall off if I start highway driving. But that should be where it stops. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. That is the command. It is not an option, not a suggestion, it is a command. We need to stop at the glance.
This is where it gets tricky. This is where the first, “Oh, that’s cute,” turns to, “Why does she get that and why don’t I?” This is where the world tells us we need more, need newer, need different…no matter what it is describing. This can be material things or even comparing yourself to other moms by looking on Pinterest. We need to remember to not get distracted by noticing wordly pleasures or comparing ourselves to others, but instead, set our minds on things above.
I questioned myself.
As soon as we continue to look and continue to long for something that someone else has, we become discontent. As mothers, we need to be not only pouring God’s truth into our daughters’ lives, but in our own as well. We need to have our hearts filled with the Truth that we are more than the sum of our parts. Who we are is not connected to what we own. Living within the boundaries that God has established really does bring you joy here on earth.
I changed my answer.
This is where action demands a consequence. In my test, I got that answer wrong and had to live with the fact that had I not changed the answer, I could have had 100%. Instead, I changed my answer. Daily, we need to be praying that our girls will not change their answers but that they will remain strong in the hope that God is faithful and true. They can stick to knowing who they are in Christ no matter what they own. We can stick to knowing who we are in Christ no matter if we are Pinterest failures. One thing that I like to do is to choose one verse for the summer or for the school year to pray for my daughter: one very specific thing that I can consistently take to the Lord with the desire that He will move in her soul and spirit. He is the changer of hearts. He is the changer of death into life. And as much as I wish He would have changed my answer on that test, I now know that for Him to change my heart is more important than any 100%!
by teen guest, Kelly Larios
I will never forget the day I learned the value of all I have.
I was living in El Salvador, a small country of Central America and, having just moved from America at age twelve, was struggling with culture shock and identifying with my countrymen.
This particular Sunday my aunt Dinora—affectionately nicknamed “Tillita”—had come over to visit. I was in the kitchen at the time, making myself a sandwich, and had, in the typical American way, cut off the bread crusts to throw away.
Tillita walked into the kitchen and greeted me, asking me questions about how I was doing and if I was excited to start school. I answered her questions and asked about my older cousins, who were in college. While we spoke, I made my way over to the trashcan and threw away the bread crusts without a second thought.
I looked up from the trashcan and was shocked by the look on my aunt’s face. She stood, frozen in horror, staring at me in utter disbelief. We locked eyes for a second before she came back to life, crying, “What are you doing? Why did you throw them away?”
Then, to my amazement, she reached into the trashcan, pulled out the crusts and ate them.
I couldn’t believe it. I was both repulsed and astounded. I’d never seen somebody dig through the trash for food. But as I watched Tillita chew, I realized how truly disgusting I must seem to her: throwing away perfectly good food for absolutely no reason.
My aunt grew up in utter poverty, along with my mother and their five other siblings. My aunt is still, to this day, very poor. She and her husband struggle to put food on the table and pay the rent for their tiny house.
The most amazing thing about my Tillita, though, is how generous she is. No one ever goes to her house without being fed, fussed over, and prayed for. She is the kindest, most soft-hearted person I know, crying over everybody’s life story and remembering them in her prayers–which often go on long into the night.
I was twelve, utterly American, comfortable, and oblivious to how blessed I was and still am. Until that day, I had never realized that what to me seems tasteless and discardable is, to someone else, the very thing they hunger for.
That Sunday, I realized for the first time how much I have, how grateful I am to have it, and how much I wish to share my wealth with others. This isn’t only true for my possessions: talents, abilities and ideas are also part of the abundance that God has given me.
I realize more and more every day how much I have of myself to give. Although some days I feel rather poor, I remind myself how blessed I am to wake up each day to a roof over my head and food on the table. I want to be a good steward of all God’s entrusted to me.
One day, I wish to be like the good servant in the parable of the talents, able to present what was given to me, to show what I’ve added, and to proudly say, “I’ve wasted nothing.”
- When have you learned a profound life lesson from a simple circumstance?
- How do you remember to be grateful for what you have?
- Anything else on your heart!
Kelly Larios is a seventeen-year-old high school student who enjoys reading and writing. She lives in Garland, Texas with her parents, cousin, and two extremely spoiled cats.
(Cheri Gregory, aka “Mrs. G”, is looking forward to having Kelly in her AP English Literature & Composition class next year!)
*Erin here: My fifteen-year-old daughter Grace wanted to share about a difficult time in her life when she was suffering from a deep depression. I haven’t shared too much of “my story” here, so what Grace shares will be new for many of you. I’ll share more about my background soon. For now, I hope Grace’s testimony brings you encouragement.
I used to be the one in the corner. The one who wished they were invisible. I was always angry. I secretly hated everyone. I used to wish I were dead.
Here is how it all started; my mom met a guy when she was 21. They dated for a while and then my mom found out she was pregnant, with me. They got married-my mom thought it would be best for me at the time. The day I was born my “dad” wasn’t even at the hospital. He was across the street at a bar. This guy wasn’t awesome. He stole money from my mom. He never held down a job. He even stooped to the level of fraud. Eventually my mom had enough. One day when I was about two months old, we left. After they got divorced he never even bothered to show up at his child visitations. He just didn’t care enough about me.
As I grew up I always knew that my biological father was not the one in my life, not the one I called “dad”. When I was in the third grade my parents sat me down and told me that my biological father had died. Although I have no memories of him, to this day it is one of the hardest things that I have dealt with. In the year after that I would ask my mom questions about him again and again, until I found out every rotten detail. I thought because he was my dad I was like him, I thought I would grow up to be an alcoholic, a thief, and a liar. I had dreams all the time that he wasn’t really dead and that he was going to come and take me away from my family. I began to hate him and because I thought I was like him I began to hate myself. I became the one in the corner.
In fifth grade I would always think of what type of person I was going to be, I thought I was going to end up in jail. I hated having someone who was so horrible be part of the reason for my existence. No matter how hard I tried to forget him and all the things that he did, I couldn’t. I was smothered in a blanket of depression. I never told anyone anything about the way I was feeling or the thoughts I was having. I let all of this anger build up inside of me. I thought I had become the person I was afraid to be.
I felt like my family didn’t love me. I felt like I had no friends. Eventually my parents caught on that there was something seriously wrong. My mom took me to a counselor, but I didn’t like her. I sunk deeper and deeper in my depression. I even had suicidal thoughts, whenever I saw a knife I would think that could be my way out, whenever I saw bleach I would think that could be my way out. I never had the guts to go through with it, and I thank God that I didn’t. Through sixth grade I was still depressed. It went on for two whole years.
Between my sixth and seventh grade year I went to camp with my church. I am convinced that during that week at camp God was there and working on my heart. A miraculous change happened within me, I had forgiven my father. I was ready to move on and stop dwelling on the past.
I was a new person. I was back to being the one in the middle of the room, I was happy again, I was glad to be alive.
“One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
”You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
”The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.” Mary Stevenson
Erin here again: As Grace shared; we had a very difficult season in our lives. Grace has experienced more pain than I would wish on anyone-especially a child. It was hard for my husband and I to decide what to share and what not to share with Grace. How do you tell your kids the ugly truth about their biological parent who’s not in the picture? How much is too much information? Do you tell them when these life-changing events happen, or wait until they are older? If you wait until they are older will they resent you for not telling them right away? We knew no matter how or when Grace found out these things that she would be hurt. After a lot of prayer and discussion we decided to tell Grace about her biological father’s death. We didn’t sit her down and give her every detail at once. We felt she was too young and that it would be too much information at once. Over the years as Grace has had questions; I’ve answered her honestly.
I know God has amazing plans for her life, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey I took that led me to experiencing the incredible joy of being Grace’s mom.
I’m so thankful for the work God has done in her heart. She is now the center of attention everywhere and so much fun. I couldn’t be more proud of her, and as I always tell her, “I love her to the moon and back, infinity”.
Someday, I’ll share more. Stay tuned.
Have you ever been divorced? Have you ever watched your child go through a season of depression? How do you decide what to share and what not to share with your kids?
If you or someone you know is depressed or considering suicide, there is help available right now. You can go to the National Suicide Prevention web site, here. You can contact a mental health counselor in your area who can assist you.