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Archive for May 12th, 2013

I Am…

“God will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you Moses?’ Rather he will ask me, “Why were you not…” (Ian Morgan Cron, Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006), 67. 

My sister and mom have the gift of hospitality.  My mom is a natural teacher and my sister is excellent with finance and accounting.  My mother-in-law is described by everyone who knows her as generous and kind.  My sister-in-law is a true friend: She has deep connections that date back to elementary school.  I have friends who are so incredibly creative they can take a piece of rope or wire and turn it into a Valentine’s Day decoration or create a bulletin board that should be hanging in a museum instead of an elementary school.  I have other friends who can strike up a conversation with complete strangers and make them feel welcome within twenty minutes while others walk into a room of middle schoolers and are comfortable getting real no matter what the topic.  I have other friends with the gifts of crafting, organization, imagination, housekeeping…and the list goes on.

Thankfully, when it’s time for me to meet Jesus face-to-face after I die, I won’t have to worry about Him asking me why I wasn’t more like one of my friends or another teacher.  All Jesus cares about is that I was the best “me” I could be and how I tried to be more like Him.  You see, when I start to compare myself to others, a thought that comforts me is God made me the way He did on purpose.  He knew me before I was born.  Therefore, He made me with all the lumps and bumps and talents and dreams and hopes and gifts I possess for a reason.  He knew the areas I would consider my weaknesses and also the areas I would deem my strengths.  He knew what weaknesses I would need to work on improving while others I would have to learn to let go.  He knew how He could use some of my weaknesses to show His strength and His glory, which is the ultimate goal of my life anyway.  He knew the passions of my heart and the level to which I would need to develop some of those areas.  He also knew I would never be any of my friends or relatives, no matter how hard I tried.

He didn’t make me to be more like them…He made me to be more like Him.  That is a very freeing statement.  It frees me up from comparing my inadequacies to my friends’ strengths.  It helps me keep the big picture in mind:  God’s desire for my life is different from that of my friends and my family.  He made each and every one of us for a unique purpose and only I can fulfill the purpose that He put on Earth for me.

What about this scenario?  You’re a teacher and in your opinion, striving to be the best teacher ever.  However, when you sit in the Teacher’s Lounge every day, you start wishing you were more like the Kindergarten teacher because she’s always happy, has way more energy then you, and everyone seems to love her.  Or maybe you want to be more like the fifth grade teacher.  He always has some great project in mind to help his students really grasp whatever concept he is presenting that day.  What about the gym teacher?  She definitely has more energy than you do and is physically fit.  She gets the fun job of exercising and getting paid to stay in shape.

Comparing myself to someone else in the same “field” as myself is especially dangerous.  God doesn’t want me wasting my time worrying about how much better the Kindergarten teacher is at her job than I am.  I’m not a Kindergarten teacher.  If I’m a second grade teacher, then I was called to be the best second grade teacher possible, not get sidetracked by worrying how I can be more like the Kindergarten teacher on her best day.  When my focus is on how lousy I am, then my performance will naturally suffer as a result.

And, lastly, while reminding myself that I’m most effective when I keep my focus on what God wants me to accomplish through His strength instead of being jealous about what everyone around me is accomplishing, I am setting a great example for my children.  My daughter already wants to write “like my mom” and sing and dance at church “like you did, right?”  As great as that is, I gently remind her that as long as she is using her own talents and gifts (which very well may include writing and definitely already include singing and dancing) for God’s glory, then it doesn’t matter if I did it first or not.  She is special because God created her for her own unique purpose and I can’t wait to watch her discover all He has in store for her.

As much as it hurts my heart to see my children compare themselves to others, I think it grieves God’s hearts when we waste our time comparing and being jealous of the gifts we see others possess we think somehow have passed us by.  I can honestly say, in the areas God has called me to use for His glory, accounting has played a very small role.  My hospitality might not be Martha Stewart caliber, but when friends stop by, they are welcomed to our “lived in” house and invited to eat some frozen chocolate chip cookies while we sit back and catch up, usually with our feet resting comfortably on the couch cushions.  And even though my organizing and putting things in a “safe place” is continuously more frustrating than helpful, I’m learning to develop a sense of humor about it, as I fear it will only get worse as I get older.

I’m happiest as a parent when I see my children discovering their own unique purposes and passions and then using them for God’s glory.  How much more do you think God is proud of us when we do the same?

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, mother-in-marriage, and all the other women in my life that are pursuing their passions for God’s glory.  You are great examples for me to follow.

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Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell

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