Someone else’s shoes don’t make the road easier

I heard about a so-called reality television show that used to be popular, one where the wives in two families traded places with each other. Wife 1 from Family 1 switched with Wife 2 of Family 2, and then some genius follows them all around with cameras to see what happened. Can you say “train wreck”? I’ve never been a big fan of those kinds of shows (or reality television in general), and I’m not even sure if it’s on anymore. But I remember hearing about it and thinking that in concept it might be nice.

I mean, getting the chance to live someone else’s life sounds appealing some days. Let’s face it. Life is tough and hard and difficult, and it feels like others have life so much more figured out than I do. So it makes sense to want to trade places with someone else, to get a chance to live in someone else’s shoes.

But is it really nice? Does it really ever turn out the way you expect? I never watched those shows, but I would be curious to know if any of those people walked away from an episode wanting to stay switched.

stairs-man-person-walkingToday’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.

I don’t know what your life really looks like. I know what it looks like on the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. You could be the most disorganized, chaotic, crazy-brained person on the planet and still give the impression that you have it all together when you’re in front of someone else. Likewise, you could look like a nutcase but have your mental ducks all in a row.

You can’t tell just by looking at someone. Sometimes you can’t even tell just by listening to them. But I guarantee that if you got the opportunity to switch places with them, you wouldn’t want to stay long.

The point is, we’re all broken. Nobody has it all together. Some people are just better at faking it, convincing people around them that they know what they’re doing. So when you catch yourself wishing you could change your life or trade places with someone else, remember that things aren’t always what they seem.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. That goes for material wealth as well as spiritual growth too. Just because someone comes off as incredibly mature spiritually doesn’t mean that you want their level of faith. I mean, it’s great if you want to have strong, unshakable faith, but that’s not something you get by snapping your fingers. Generally, you’ve got to go through a lot of pain and disappointment and sadness to be able to develop a faith that’s strong. And it’s great to want that and it’s totally worth it, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that growing a deep faith happens easily or overnight.

So stay put. Don’t wish for someone else’s shoes. Get comfy in your own. No, your life isn’t perfect. You have challenges you’ll face and hard decisions to make, but you aren’t in your life by accident. God’s got a plan, and He’s working it out a day at a time, even (and maybe especially) when it doesn’t feel like He is.

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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.