Don’t let your insecurity dictate your direction

I struggle with insecurity. A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them that, but it’s true. I’m a recovering people pleaser, after all. Insecurity is part of the gig. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of emotional trauma, but I’ve finally come to understand that insecurity is something everyone struggles with. We’re all insecure about something. It’s just not the same from person to person, and we all react to our insecurity in different ways.

Some people lash out. Others tear people down. Some hide. Some run. Some fight. But at the root of it all is this cold pit of fear in your stomach that won’t go away no matter how many times you tell yourself that you know what you’re doing. Living with insecurity is miserable because it makes you miserable. It colors the way you see yourself and others, and it endangers your relationships.

So what beats insecurity? Confidence and peace. But those aren’t things you can pour out of a bottle or find stashed in a treasure chest. I don’t know about you, but a load of confidence and peace sounds like something I could use right now. So where do you get them?

WJDK7M84F9Today’s verse is Romans 15:13.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible calls God the source of hope. I think it’s important we remember that. Too often we put our hope in things that can’t really satisfy us or solutions that treat the symptoms of a problem instead of its cause.

If you’re struggling with insecurity today, the first thing to realize is that you can’t find security anywhere other than in Jesus Christ. If you look to other people or titles or wealth or status to give you the security you crave, you’re going to be disappointed. People will always let you down, and all the success in this world won’t amount to much when you die. You can’t take it with you. So instead of letting your wealth or your family name or your reputation define you, start looking at yourself the way Jesus does.

Another way to find confidence is to ask God for it. That’s something we can ask for. Confidence and peace aren’t mystical, ethereal constructs that can’t be understood. No. If you need confidence and peace, ask God to give it to you. But realize where it comes from. Confidence and peace come because you trust God.

That’s the tough part. You’ve got to trust God.

Trust that He’s in control. Trust that He hasn’t made a mistake. Trust that He’ll tell you when you need to turn. Trust that you’re where you are now because you’re following Him. Trust that He won’t leave you alone and that He won’t abandon you.

For me, my insecurity comes when I stop trusting God. When I take matters into my own hands and try to accomplish things in my own strength, that’s when I start getting nervous and unpleasant. That’s when I get snappy and grouchy, because I’m relying on myself, and Myself isn’t strong enough.

Maybe no one understands you. Maybe it’s just you and God on the road right now, and you’re starting to wonder if the compass God gave you is actually working. Let’s get something straight. God doesn’t change, and I’m not aware of any time in Scripture where God set someone off on a path and then changed His mind about where they were going or what they were doing. God sees things through. He finishes what He starts, and He’s not done with any of us yet.

So trust Him. He’s worthy of it. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Shut out the negative voices. Granted, don’t be a jerk about it. And always be humble enough to hear correction, because you aren’t perfect. But don’t ever put someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or opinions higher than God’s.

Don’t let your insecurities dictate the direction you’re going. That’s God’s job. So learn to recognize His voice apart from the voices of insecurity and the lies of the enemy. Then, once you know what God wants, trust it. Trust Him. And shut out the insecurity using the peace and confidence you gain from knowing who God is and that nothing can ever separate you from His love.

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Relying on our insecurities will never make us strong

Everyone in insecure about something. Some people are insecure about getting up in front of people. Other people are insecure when they deal with numbers. Others are insecure about dealing with people.

You can be the most talented person in the world, but when you are faced with the one topic you are insecure about, you’ll shut down.

Regardless of what you’re insecure about, when you’re thinking about it calmly, you recognize that your insecurity is a weakness. It’s an area where you need to be stronger. You know that. But in the heat of the moment, when you are faced with a situation that frightens you or when you have to make a snap decision, it’s easy to fall back on what we know, and the one thing we all know is our own insecurities.

But insecurities make us feel not secure. That’s why they’re called insecurities! And maybe it’s comfortable to fall back on them, but what if you had something stronger to hold on to instead? Wouldn’t that be a better idea?

InsecureTurtleToday’s verses are 2 Peter 1:3-4.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God has given us all a list of promises miles and miles long. God has made so many promises that we don’t have time to talk about them all. And, what’s awesome, is that He’s kept all of the promises that He’s made.

He always keeps His promises. That’s who He is.

So instead of falling back on your insecurities, what about trying to fall back on God’s promises instead? It sounds like it should be easy to do, but it’s a difficult habit to get into, especially when you’re accustomed to relying on your own strength.

How do you live by God’s promises? Or, as the Bible says in the next verse after these, respond to God’s promises? That part is easy in theory. It means you put weight to what God’s said. It means you put your money where your mouth is. It means you take God at His Word.

Example? God has promised that if you give to His work (i.e. tithe) that He will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings so numerous you won’t be able to contain them all (Malachi 3:10). This is a promise. And to take God at His Word, that would mean you would start giving to God, whether you think you have the finances to give or not. And then you just trust that God will provide for you.

That’s all there is to it. You live life trusting that God will do what He says He’ll do. You make decisions based on what God has promised to do for you.

I don’t like speaking in front of people. I despise getting up and talking in front of crowds. But it’s part of this career path God has me on right now. I don’t like it because I can’t always think of the right things to say, and I’m terrified that I will come off looking like a fool. I get so scared that I will be a poor representation of Christ because I babble like an idiot. But God has promised before that He will give His children the words they need to say when they need them.

So when it comes down to the choice of speaking in front of a group or not, what do I do? If I’m going to fall back on what’s familiar, I’ll lean on my insecurities. Those insecurities tell me I’m a horrible speaker, that I’ll say stupid things, that I’ll make mistakes and confuse people. Those are my insecurities. And they’re not helpful.

But if I choose to believe God’s promise, I’ll get up in front of people and God will help me. He’ll give me the strength to face my fears, and He’ll give me the words to speak when I need them.

See the difference?

So what decision are you facing today? Are you leaning on what your insecurities are telling you about yourself? Or are you thinking about what God has promised you instead? If you’re cowering in fear, I guarantee, it’s not God you’re listening to.

Hold on to God’s promises. He always keeps them. Trusting your insecurities will only leave you insecure and unfulfilled. Which choice do you think is better?

When feeling insecure becomes an act of aggression

You can’t believe they said that about you, can you? It’s completely untrue, of course. Designed to hurt and tear you down. Why would anyone say something about you to hurt you when you haven’t done anything to them?

Have you been in that situation? Asked those questions? If you’ve gotten out of bed and interacted with people at any point in your life, you probably have.

It’s a fact of life that not everyone you meet is going to like you. If you’re a people pleaser like me, that’s devastating. I hate the thought that I might encounter people who don’t automatically like me. Even worse, thinking about someone who actively dislikes me turns my stomach inside out. Such a thing makes me wish I were born with more of a hardened personality so that encountering those types wouldn’t be so heartbreaking–but if I had someone else’s personality, I wouldn’t be me.

The truth of the situation? It’s not even about me. And it’s not about you either.

There just seems to be a percentage of the population who is dead set on tearing others around them to pieces. Nothing you can do will change their minds. Nothing you say will convince them otherwise. Some people just see other people as tools or objects to use in their own personal struggle for significance. Why is that?

Insecurity is a silent aggressor. It sneaks up on you like a thief in the night and whispers lies to your heart. It starts with comparison. You see someone you know and you see them doing amazing things, and maybe you’re happy for them at first. But it doesn’t take long before you start seeing that person you know as a rival or as competition. You see that person and their success, and you think their life must be perfect. And it’s not fair, because you deserve success more than they do.

The longer you sit on that passive, silent aggression, the stronger it gets. And then, one day, it’s not silent anymore. And you start nit-picking that person’s actions in front of other people. You start looking for chinks in their armor, and when you find one, you tell others. Because if everybody knows about that person’s weakness, people won’t think they’re perfect anymore. You tell yourself you’re doing the world a favor, because nobody wants to idolize someone who obviously has so many flaws. If you can bring them down to your level, they won’t get the spotlight. They won’t be the hero. They won’t be superior.

But the flaw in that thinking is that the person you’re tearing down is superior in the first place. In your own mind, you build them up until they’re standing on a pedestal above everyone else, and there’s a good chance that person never asked to be in that position. And if you’re both followers of Christ, there’s a good chance God put them there on purpose.

JEALOUSY-_-SESSIONToday’s verses are Psalm 75:4-7.

I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’
I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists!
Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens
or speak with such arrogance.’”
For no one on earth—from east or west,
or even from the wilderness—
should raise a defiant fist.
It is God alone who judges;
he decides who will rise and who will fall.

Insecurity may be more dangerous than any other emotion. At least, that’s been my personal experience. When I started feeling insecure around other people, that’s when I would turn into someone I’m not. My own feelings of insecurity tainted the words others said to me, so that even praise became thinly-veiled criticism.

When you see your relationships through the fog of personal insecurity, it wrecks you. And it causes you to wreck others.

So why do we feel it? Why do the successes of other people cause us to doubt our own gifts? Why do the talents of our peers make us see ourselves as less than worthy of God’s grace or blessing?

It’s the same lie the enemy has been telling us for years, friends. Pride. Our enemy knows our weaknesses, and he appeals to them on the level that will be most effective in turning us against each other.

You see someone else succeed where you’ve failed, and he whispers that it should have been you. That you deserved to win, and life caused you to lose. You start putting talented people on pedestals, but it won’t be long before you wonder why you don’t deserve to be up there too. Pride leads to jealousy, and jealousy turns into action. And it will all start with the simple question: Why not me?

And, frankly, it’s not that you shouldn’t ask that question. That question is a great one to ask, and the answer might even spur you on to do something great for God. But you should never ask it thinking that the person you’re admiring is any more worthy of God’s grace or blessing than you are. No one is worthy. Period. Not even the most perfect, most spiritual person you know.

God decides who succeeds based on His own Will. No, that doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail. But it does mean that if you’ve failed, you still have something to learn. And, honestly, if you talk to that person you’ve been tearing down, I’d bet you’d discover that they see themselves as a failure in many areas as well.

If you’re that person who feels the need to rip others down to make yourself feel better, stop it. And if you’re a follower of Christ and you still feel the need to point out the flaws in other believers, you need to take a moment and ask yourself who you’re listening to. Because if you feel like you have to tear others down to make yourself feel better, you’re not listening to God. You’re listening to His enemy, the enemy who despises you simply because God loves you.

If you’re the person who’s been hurt by what others have said about you, don’t let it get to you. Recognize insecurity where you see it. Don’t get angry. See it for what it is and forgive. It’s not worth getting angry about. Trust me. Most accusations from insecure people are baseless anyway. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, but you don’t have to stoop to their level. What matters is what God thinks, and God knows the truth. That should be good enough for you.

Don’t let insecurity creep into your relationships. If you see someone succeeding, rejoice with them. Maybe you didn’t achieve the same measure of success they did, but maybe that’s not where your gifts are. Maybe God has a better plan for you. Or maybe God’s just trying to teach you something. Either way, tearing someone else down with your words or your actions is never ever the right choice.

The dangers of insecurity in Christian artists

Everyone is insecure about something. Maybe you’re insecure about your looks. Maybe you’re insecure about your job. Maybe you’re insecure about your talents.

I’m a creative person in a corporate world, and it’s very easy to get very insecure very quickly. I’m a people pleaser. I like it when people tell me I’ve done a good job. I like to make people happy.

When I create something, I pour my heart and soul into it. If I don’t, it comes off stale. If people don’t like what I create, it’s difficult to separate myself from what I created. If people don’t like it, it’s hard not to take it as an insult or a slight. And as a result, I can get very insecure about showing people my work or trying anything new. I’m afraid that if people don’t like it, they won’t like me either.

I know I’m not the only creative type to struggle with this. The problem with that mindset is that we are placing my identity in my work, and that’s not where our identity is supposed to come from.

490270_18101926Today’s verse is Romans 8:15.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

There’s nothing wrong with your art being an expression of who you are. That’s one of the purposes of art—to be a physical representation of you and your perspective on life. But you are more than that painting on the canvas. You’re more than those words on that page. You’re more than that lump of clay on the wheel. What you created is just a tiny piece of your perspective on the world, and just because someone doesn’t like it doesn’t mean they hate you.

God created you to be an artist. He gave you the eyes, the ears, the voice, the thought process that is so different from other people around you. You see the world differently, and that’s fine. That’s intentional. But when you find your self-worth in the title artist, you’re in for a rocky road.

So if you don’t find your identity in what you create, where do you find it? If you can’t be satisfied with a manmade title, what title will satisfy you?

How about Child of God? That’s what God did for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He gave us the gift of adoption into His family, so He’s not just some terrifying unknowable figure far above us. He’s our Father, and we can call Him Daddy.

When you’re a child of God, you answer to the Creator of the Universe. He’s the only one you need to worry about pleasing. Not your friends or your neighbors or your coworkers or your roommates or even (to some extent) your family. Now, because we follow Him, we do our best to live in peace with everyone around us, but He has the ultimate say.

A Child of God who has the gift of artistry has to answer to God Himself, and that’s it. God is your pattern to follow. God is your inspiration. God is your critique partner.

Sure, if you’re working a job that requires you to stay within the bounds of corporate style, do your best. Work for the people in authority over you to the best of your ability because God put you there. And if they don’t like what you create, that’s fine. Don’t see it as a reason to be defensive or insecure about your work.

Whatever you think you are lacking, that becomes your insecurity, and if you aren’t careful to keep your focus in the right place, your insecurity can become your security blanket.

Nothing stifles a creative spirit more than insecurity, but it’s important to understand where that insecurity comes from. If you are an artist and you are feeling insecure, stop for a second and take a deep breath and make sure you know where you’re getting your identity.

Your work may be beautiful and brilliant, but you need something stronger than it to carry you through the days when you can’t remember who you are. Instead of relying on your own creativity to find yourself, try looking to God instead. After all, He’s the Master Creator. He made you. And He’s your biggest fan.

One reason you shouldn’t unfriend someone

Monday was National Unfriend Day, which encourages Facebook users to slim down their friend list. I didn’t even realize that there was such a thing. As I was listening to the radio on the way into work (or maybe on the way home?), the radio people were talking about the types of friends they thought people should unfriend.

I get that. We all have Facebook friends who post inappropriate things from time to time, and if it’s something that you really don’t want to see, yes, remove association. But these radio folks weren’t saying to unfriend people for inappropriate photos or posts. Not even for polarizing political material. They unfriended people because of posts that made them feel like bad parents.

Whoa. What?

Okay. I’m not a parent, but I am a writer. And writers are among the most insecure lot you’ll ever encounter in life, mainly because we’re all used to being shot down all the time. But I’m friends with many, many other writers on Facebook, and I find their posts informative. And when they post that they got 5,000 words done for NaNoWriMo, I applaud them. I don’t sit back and feel terrible about myself because I only managed my 700 or so for the daily devotional today.

I don’t have kids, but I do know what it’s like to compare myself to others. And, friends, there’s no freedom in that life. Only chains.

comparison_wiseToday’s verses are Romans 9:20-21.

No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?

God made you who you are. He gave you the talents and the dreams that you have. He knew everything about you before your parents even wanted you. Before time began, God knew what you would love, what you would hate, and what would make you feel worthless. That’s why we have verses like these and others all throughout Scripture that say the same thing over and over again: I made you just the way I want you.

It’s easy to compare yourself to other people. Maybe that guy at work is so much smarter. Maybe that girl at school is so much prettier. Maybe that mom at the park has so many creative ideas. Whoever you’re comparing yourself to today, stop.

If you are a Christ-follower, you have one standard, and it’s not the super-crafty, uber-organized, always-put-together soccer mom on your newsfeed. It’s Jesus. You follow Him. You do what He says is right. And you give it your best for Him, whatever your best is.

Maybe one person can juggle six balls. Maybe another can only manage two. Maybe you’re normal and can only manage to carry one without dropping it. If you can only carry one ball, God doesn’t expect you to juggle 10. And quite honestly, if you know someone who’s juggling 10 balls, it’s highly likely that they’re just holding one and letting God juggle the other nine.

If you read Facebook and feel inadequate in the light of other people’s accomplishments, someone is whispering lies in your ear, and it’s not God.

Our enemy loves to use discouragement and insecurity to stop us from doing our best for God. He likes to tell us that our best isn’t enough, that’s we’ll never succeed, because we can’t perform like Suzy Homemaker down the street or John Q. Public in his corner office.

How do you fight him off then? Well, you can unfriend all the people who make you feel insecure, but that won’t solve the problem. Because the problem isn’t with Facebook, and the problem isn’t with the soccer mom. It’s in the way you see yourself.

The way you fight him off is with truth, but it won’t be of much use to you until you accept it.

God loves you. He really does. More than you understand. And He made you. You aren’t an accident. You were lovingly and carefully put together by God’s own hands, and He doesn’t make mistakes. So don’t tell Him He made you wrong. That’s what you do when you compare yourself to someone else.

You have something that woman down the street or that man in the adjoining office can never have–you. You don’t need to be anybody else but you. So stop trying. And stop putting yourself down because you don’t measure up.

Someone else probably feels the same way about you. Have you ever stopped to think why super-crafty, uber-organized, always-put-together soccer mom on your newsfeed feels the need to post about her day? Maybe she’s just as insecure about life as you are.

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

How comparing yourself to others puts you in a pickle

Have you ever sat and watched someone else do your job better than you? Don’t say you haven’t because we’ve all been there. We’ve all watched someone else–someone younger or less experienced or weirder or whatever–do what we do best better than we can do it.

If you’re a performance-driven perfectionist like me, it’s mortifying. Because nobody should be better than me. If it’s my job, I should do it the best in the world.

Yes, that’s the way I think. Yes, I know it’s crazy. Yes, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. There’s always someone out there better than your best. Whether they actually are or not may be a matter of opinion, but from your perspective, some young whipper-snapper just bopped into your world and upstaged you.

So what do you do? How do you handle yourself–your identity, your life’s purpose–when someone comes along who’s better at being you than you are?

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Galatians 6:4-5.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Did you know that you’re the only you in the whole entire universe? There’s not another you out there. So the first thing to remember is that nobody can be a better you than you–because you’re the only one in existence. God made you exactly the way you are, knew every inch of you before you were born, understood every ridiculous personality quirk before you were even aware of yourself. So whenever you hear those devious whispers that someone else is better than you, recognize them for what they are. Lies. And don’t waste any time on them.

Secondly, who told you someone else does a better job at your job than you? Is that your own opinion? If it’s your own opinion, take a moment and just be real with yourself. Are you doing your best? If you aren’t, then change. If you are, stop worrying. You can only do the best job you can do, so stop trying to do the best job your coworker can do.

Are you catching a theme here?

There’s something in each of us that demands we compare ourselves to the people around us. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s probably pride, because we want to be able to say we’re the best.

But you can’t compare yourself to someone else.

I snapped today’s featured photo at Judgement House last night. In case you can’t figure it out, it’s a pickle. A whole dill pickle. But it’s short and squat. See, whole dill pickles are one of the best sellers at the Judgement House concession stand. They get wrapped in foil and we go through gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons of whole dill pickles every night. It’s ridiculous.

So why, when we can consume that many pickles, is there one little short, squat pickle leftover? I can only assume that it wasn’t good enough to sell. Or maybe nobody wanted it because they assumed it would taste funny because it looked different than its full-size pickle siblings.

Not to anthropomorphisize a pickle (which is precisely what I’m doing), but that’s what we do so many times with our own opportunities. We get this idea in our heads that because we look different or sound different or work different or just are different that we can’t do a job as well as somebody else who is “normal.” And that’s just silly.

Comparing yourself to somebody else is a waste of your time, your emotions, and your resources. It gets your focus off what matters–the fact that God put you right where He intended you to be.

So knock it off.

Stop comparing yourself to other people. If you’re an actor, stop thinking someone else is a better actor than you are, and just do your best. If you’re a builder, stop thinking someone else builds better houses than you do, and just do your best. If you’re a writer (yes, talking to myself here), stop comparing yourself to other writers, and just do your best.

What’s important is that you do your best to the glory of God. Period.

That way, you won’t get caught up in the drama of who did what or why or when, and you can look at what you’ve done and be satisfied. And, honestly, there’s nothing better than being satisfied with a job well done.

So the next time you feel so inclined to compare yourself with someone else, think pickles. Because even a short, stubby pickle is still a pickle.

Two scarlet macaws at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Contentment never comes from constant comparison

Can you be happy if you are constantly comparing yourself to other people? I can’t. But what is it about the human condition that leads us to compare ourselves to each other? Nobody has to teach us to do that. We just do it.

We live our lives and one day we meet someone who (in our perception) has something we don’t have. And that automatically means that person is happier than we are, so we compare our lives. We compare our personalities. We compare our achievements. And we compare our failures. In some cases, it ends with simple discontent, but in other cases it becomes raging jealousy.

The plain and simple truth is that our purpose isn’t to compare ourselves to each other. That’s not how a Christ-follower is supposed to live. A Christ-follower is supposed to compare themselves to God, to Christ, to live by the example He gave us. Not to live by the life of someone here we think is happy. Because I guarantee, if you pick the person down here you think is the happiest person in the world, if you really get to know them, you’ll discover that their life isn’t as fun as you think it is.

So instead of comparing our lives, which is just a distraction from the things that really matter, shouldn’t we work together?

Two scarlet macaws at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Two scarlet macaws at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Philippians 2:1-2.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

After reading through Philippians a few times, I get the feeling that the Church at Philippi had some trouble getting along. Paul even goes so far as to call out names of people who he wanted to stop squabbling. And unfortunately, not much has changed in the Church in 2,000 years. The Church is still the epicenter of many arguments and much unpleasantness, all stemming from the fact that the believers within refuse to get along.

And from what I have seen and experienced, the root cause of why people can’t get along is that they focus on how they are different.

We focus on the differences in our life experience. We focus on the difference in our rearing. We focus on the difference of our level of education. We focus on our age. We focus on our preferences. We focus on our marital status. And we go a step further. Because someone else has money or education or Bible knowledge, we automatically assume they want nothing to do with us, and somehow we begin to resent them even though we don’t even know who they are. Or because someone is popular or well-liked in the church, we form opinions about them and don’t even try to get to know them.

And before you know it, we have convinced ourselves through assumptions and preconceived notions that we can’t be of one mind because we are too different.

But what does Philippians say? What did Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit write to the people who refuse to work together?

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?

Is there any?

Not total. Not complete. Not full. Not entire or whole or a word that indicates we have to be 100% alike.

Any.

Here’s how the Amplified Version puts it:

So by whatever [appeal to you there is in our mutual dwelling in Christ, by whatever] strengthening and consoling and encouraging [our relationship] in Him [affords], by whatever persuasive incentive there is in love, by whatever participation in the [Holy] Spirit [we share], and by whatever depth of affection and compassionate sympathy, fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.

We aren’t supposed to be the same people. God made us different and put us in different circumstances with different life experiences so that where one person is weak the other person can be strong. But because we like to compare ourselves, because we refuse to be happy with where we are, we only see the differences. So we don’t see how our differences can make us strong through Christ.

I may have absolutely nothing in common with the next person I talk to at my church. They may be married with six kids and love chick flicks and romance novels and only eat turnips. But if that person belongs to Christ, we are family. Everything else is insubstantial in the face of our connection through Christ. Christ is what matters.

So today, if you have formed preconceived notions about another believer, get rid of them. Drop them like a rock. Preconceived notions when you don’t know someone will only do damage, both to the person you assume things about and to you. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Stop looking at other people’s lives and wondering why they deserve to be happy when you don’t. And reach out to someone you don’t know. Prove your preconceived notions wrong. I guarantee you will.

And even if the person you reach out to turns out to be exactly opposite from you, you still have one thing in common. And that one thing, Christ, can make up for everything else.