It seems that the theme that keeps popping up for me this month is comparison. I’ve heard, read, and contemplated on this topic, especially as it applies to women. Social Media is such a prevalent part of our lives, and though I think in many ways it can be helpful, it can also shine a blaring light on those things we feel inadequate about. We see what we are lacking in all the ways we desire to be perfect.
This year has been a particularly rough year for most of us. I know that I personally have struggled with feelings of falling short or not measuring up. I have come to believe that two of Satan’s best tools are comparison and isolation. If he can get us to compare ourselves to others, we either have self-pity thinking we have so much more to deal with than others and life is unfair towards us, or we feel that we
have much less to struggle with and have no right to comfort because we shouldn’t even be hurting.
In either case, we grow in pride or take refuge in isolation. In isolation, we feel that no one can relate to us. We are left alone with our thoughts and our pain and we tend to self-destruct. We need each other so much!!!
One of my favorite talks, especially as a young mom, was written by Patricia Holland and is called Fruits of Peace. It talks about how much women need each other. I have read it so many times and it has really helped me adjust my thinking when I’ve felt hurt or alone. One of her phrases that resonated with me is, “Those who try hardest will be most aware of falling short.” Whenever I have feelings of inadequacy that pop up in my heart, I try to remember these words. I tell myself that good mothers are those who try hard and with trying hard comes recognition of falling short. And with Christ’s help, I can keep working on those weaknesses and eventually overcome them to make them strengths.
In the end, our journey towards becoming our best self has nothing to do with where anyone else is in their journey and everything to do with how much I’m allowing Christ to lift and teach me in my own. I absolutely love it when we drop into the month of November every year. It seems my heart is more naturally inclined towards gratitude from traditions of the past throughout my life. It seems that I am more aware of all I have to be grateful for and a tendency to intentionally identify my blessings. And coincidentally enough, I tend to be more consistently happy in November than in any other month.
I actually don’t believe there is a coincidence between the relationship of gratitude and joy. I think it is a very tangible connection. I believe this because I have also noticed that I can have joy in even the most trying of times when I have kept my focus on recognizing the tender mercies in my life rather than reverberating around the misery of my circumstances.
I love this quote by Pope Francis: “Who gives us joy is the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit Himself who guides us; He is the author of joy, the creator of joy. And this joy in the Spirit gives us true Christian freedom. Without joy, we cannot become free. We become slaves of our sadness.”
I believe the trick to finding joy in any circumstance is to partner with our Savior. When we value Him as our treasured friend and make time to build our relationship with Him, it is so much easier for Him to comfort us and to shine a light in our minds showing us the blessings that are all around us. Connecting with Him on a daily basis allows Him to do this for us.
So how do we connect with Him? I have found that there are holy habits that help me to do this. These holy habits include prayer, immersing myself in the scriptures, listening to inspired music or talks, reading books where God is the hero, and pondering on His love for me. One of the most pivotal things I have found I need to do for connection with Him is to create a space of silence.
When I turn off the background noise of my life, I allow the Spirit to communicate with me. As a young mom, I achieved this
during nap time. I called this 30 minutes of sacred time “R & R or Rest & Reading” time. My children had to stay in their rooms for 30 minutes. They could rest or read and I didn’t care which it was. Often times as they relaxed to read, they fell asleep and took naps long after napping was not a consistent thing in our lives. But this time allowed me to reconnect with myself and it allowed me to reconnect with Christ. I was a better and more joyful mother because of it. This space of silence has always allowed me to feel His comfort more profoundly and to hear His subtle direction, warnings, and confirmation so much more clearly. And when I feel this connection, I can see my blessings more easily. And as I feel gratitude for these blessings, I feel joy.
What is something you can do this coming month to connect more often with your Savior, to have more gratitude, and to feel more joy? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Get Hope. Get Christ. Get Anchored.
Gratitude by Brandon Lake
A Little Help for Little Friends:
My Gratitude Jar, written and read by Kristin Wien