affair recovery · Community

FREEDOM: The Story of the Bathtub Picture

The “Thread Family” is a group of people with a Facebook status that has been running strong since February 2013. There are over sixty-three thousand comments on the status update, and I don’t think there has even been one day when someone hasn’t commented. The people in the Thread Family are not genetically related to one another, their bond runs deeper. I am a relative of  the Thread Family. I wouldn’t say I am a member of their immediate family. I’m more like a distant cousin, or to some, the estranged sister. The immediate family check into the thread every day to comment or chat. I check in far less often.

Every once in a while, someone from the immediate family will do a roll-call. They tag members of the family and those who are tagged receive a notification. When this happens, and I am included, I try to respond.

About a month ago I was tagged in a roll-call while I was busy working at the restaurant. I  was standing in the kitchen waiting for food so I could deliver it to a table when I saw the notification on my phone. In an attempt to pull the Thread Family closer to me (because I am currently living over 350 miles away from these friends) I took a quick picture of the kitchen line-up of food and added the picture to the thread with a shout of, “Here!”

For a moment the Thread Family was in my world, and when others responded with their pictures announcing, “Here”, I was in theirs. It was only for a moment, and then it was over. They continued in their world, and I continued in my own.

Last Saturday night there was a roll-call at about 6PM, which was the beginning of the dinner rush at the restaurant. I didn’t feel the phone vibrate, so I didn’t see the notification until I arrived home about four hours later. I had just finished working an eleven hour shift and I was physically wiped out. I grabbed something cold to drink and headed straight to the bathtub. I tore off my clothes and stepped into the tub while it continued to fill. While standing and waiting, I looked down at my phone and checked my social media notifications.

When I saw the roll-call I smiled. Being remembered is truly priceless.

My first instinct in responding was to take a picture. I was tired, and it just seemed easier than trying to think of something to say. I clicked on the camera and took a picture of my feet. I was about to type, “Finally here.” when I accidentally hit post.


Almost immediately, I regretted what I had posted. I remembered that this thread was not only visible to my FB friends, but to many people with whom I am not close to at all. In my frustration, I couldn’t get my phone to respond quickly enough as I attempted to delete the picture. My heart pounded and I could hear the imaginary voices of people who would would be quick to judge me for placing a picture of myself in the bathtub online. People don’t bathe in clothes, and by posting this picture–I was drawing attention to something that others might consider sexual. Not too long ago I called an aquaintance, “Baby…” in a passing conversation. Later, a woman who had overheard the exchange, confronted me and to let me know that using that term was evidence of poor boundaries. I can only imagine what that person would say if she were to see this picture.

And all of the “even thoughs” couldn’t overpower the fear I was experiencing.

Even though the affair has been over for longer than it lasted.  Even though God forgave me for the rebelliousness of my heart.  Even though my husband has forgiven me for breaking my vows.  Even though my children have forgiven me for every single lie.  Even though my closest friends have forgiven me for showing them little respect.

Even though….even though…even though…it didn’t matter. All I could imagine was judgement. All I could hear were whispers of words associated with adultery and the nastiness of things from my past. Bad choices echoed off the tiled walls.

I am lucky I didn’t drop my phone in the tub as I tapped and banged on the screen to get it to respond. Finally, I was given the option to delete the picture from the thread.

Delete?  YES.

And I sat down and relaxed in the tub.

A few minutes later I received a text from a woman who is part of the Thread Family.



And that’s how the conversation started.

I went on to express my fears, and she did her best to reassure me that I don’t need to live in that place anymore. She encouraged me with her willingness to come looking for me when she saw something was amiss. She showed me love and reminded me that I cannot be bound by concern for what other people might think. There have been a few people who have responded with emotion to my sin, but she reminded me to focus on the people who have responded in the fullness of Christ. She reminded me to focus on the future and the promises outlined in scripture.

She did everything she could to make me feel free.

Two mornings later, I was sitting on my porch preparing for a series of talks I am going to be teaching at a Women’s Retreat this weekend. The verse for the weekend is Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

As I prayed through my notes, I was struck with the meaning of this verse and how my behavior on Saturday night had not been an act of freedom at all. I was not behaving as one who is free from the sin of the past. I was behaving as one who is still in bondage to something that happened and has long since been forgiven and forgotten by the Lord.

I wasn’t freed from bondage to live in bondage. I was freed to live free.

I decided that I wanted to let my friend know that her words had finally reached me. She was trying to share this truth with me, and I had been reluctant.

I added some scripture to the picture and posted it online for anyone to see, knowing full well that it would make very little sense to anyone else. But, as I posted the picture, God spoke to me.

God’s call for me to live free is bigger than just my freedom. It’s a call to live free for the sake of others finding freedom.

When we live in bondage to the sins of our past, we are incapable of drawing someone else out of the sin which is holding them captive. We become down-trodden and insecure. Decisions are made out of fear. Whispered lies, that the Lord would never ever utter, ring loudly in our imaginations. We become ineffective to the plans of the Lord. We become less than what He would desire.

When we live in the fullness of the freedom we have received, we have the words, the Spirit and the enthusiasm to share that freedom with those around us. Our hope increases and we aspire to do things we didn’t know we could do. We become capable of handling things we didn’t ever think possible. It’s among the most majestic things offered to us other than our salvation. To live in freedom that we may be used after we have failed is to discover true freedom. And when we live in that place, others see that possibility for themselves.

Our freedom is a gift, and it’s a gift that was meant to be REgifted.

It is freedom for freedom.


affair recovery · Limerence

Honest Fear – The Love Addiction Trilogy, Part 2

I was sitting on my porch reading a Stephen King book when I had a scary thought. Ironically, the fear didn’t come from reading about an evil clown or an animal brought back to life in a Pet Cemetery. I was reading the author’s bestselling book, On Writing. This particular book is listed as one of the most notable on the craft of writing, and it’s become a staple in my life. My eldest son often teases me because I am always reading it. I leaf through it over and over, finding so much insight between its covers.

Mr. King is straightforward about the importance of writing honestly and blunt in his opinions of authors who fail to do so. He urges wanna-bees to write truthfully. Imagination is vital, but there has to be an element of truth. Even with writing about the supernatural, it’s not about whether or not something could happen, it’s about revealing secrets we would die for: the truth we know in our hearts. But then he cautions with this: “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.”

Sitting there on my shady porch, reading his instruction, lamenting over the truths I have come to know, and sealing it with his warning was enough to bring tears to my eyes. The combination of what I knew to be true, what I knew I could share, and what that meant for my place in polite society gave me a chill.

Limerence: The Monster Within

This article is Part 2 of a trilogy of blog posts attempting to explain a psychological disorder which affects more than 5% of the population. (Part 1, Honest Beginnings is HERE) The term Limerence is used to define a distinct and involuntary psychological state that affects a multitude of people. Dr. Dorothy Tennov, an American Psychologist who interviewed thousands of people in her studies which supported her hypothesis about the obsessive drive for romance worked until the end of her life to help others have an understanding of the psychological anomaly.

Because I didn’t understand the disorder brewing in me, I assumed I was a lost cause. I was experiencing a nightmare, and there seemed to be no way out. In truth, there was a monster growing inside. That monster could have destroyed my life. Even after the affair was disclosed, the monster lived and breathed and was reliant on me keeping its ways a secret. That’s what makes a monster scary—not what you see, but what you can’t see.

Limerence isn’t exactly the same for every person, but it has certain qualities that are common for the majority. Some of its universalities include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors towards another person
  • Longing for emotional reciprocation from the other person
  • Overwhelming fear of rejection from the other person

TentaclesOBSESSION: During the time I lived the double life of an affair, I would go for days without sleeping for more than two or three hours at a time. There was an obsession about the other person hanging over my head like a canopy. I could have twenty tasks I needed to accomplish in my day, but they all had to be accomplished under the over-arching first task of maintaining and meeting the desires and the needs of the other person. Every other task fell under that umbrella.

I was consumed with this other person, and my mind was constantly spinning as I tried to understand what was happening to me. I have never been addicted to alcohol or drugs, but many of the physical attributes and characteristics of substance addiction are similar to what I was experiencing.

And scientifically speaking, I later learned that is exactly what was happening. As more and more research is being done on this disorder there is a clinical understanding to the biochemical responses happening in the brain of a person with Limerence. Imagine being in a relationship with someone where just being in their presence stimulates your brain causing your pituitary gland to release a mixture of dopamine, norepinephine, and phenylethlamine. The chemicals produced have been referred to as a cocktail of euphoria. The other person is like your drug dealer—or worse, your drug.

These euphoric feelings are misinterpreted and mistakenly attached to romantic words and ideals. Women (and men) get trapped in this addictive state because they believe they are in love, when what they are actually experiencing is a chemical addiction to the pleasurable cocktail their own brain is producing.

This obsession monster takes the form of an underwater sea creature with seventeen tentacles. Swimming to shore to catch your breath is impossible because if you look away for one moment you’ll lose sight of one of the creature’s limbs and be pulled under completely.

the blobLONGING: If you are involved in an affair and you say this to your affair partner, “All I want is what’s best for you.” You, my friend, are a liar.  You cannot truthfully declare wanting what is best for the other person while simultaneously encouraging them to deceive the people they love the most. The undercurrent of every affair in its strongest moment is dishonesty.

With a Limerence affair the lanes on the road adjust to make room for the truck with the widest load. In this instance the cargo is not about how I feel about you, but rather it’s: how you feel about me makes me feel about me.

We all have a longing to be desired, needed, and wanted. That God created longing is deep inside all of us for a reason. Peter Rollins suggests in his book, Insurrection, that our greatest desire is to be desired by the one we desire. If the one we truly desire is God, we are on sturdy pavement because His desire for us is strong and unchanging. If however, the one we desire is someone else (or something else) we are traveling down a dirt road of chronic longing. The potholes not only will leave us dissatisfied, but quite often in our attempt to maneuver around those unpleasant obstacles we can get completely off course.

With a person who has Limerence there is a willingness to overlook areas where there is a lack of compatibility. In a healthy situation a person is drawn to someone with whom they have much in common. With Limerence, the lack of compatibility is irrelevant. Unappealing attributes in the other person cease to matter because the longing of being desired is what is being fed.

This longing takes the form of a giant blob. In 1958, the horror film The Blob depicted a monster (which looked a lot like a gargantuan mound of jell-o) that would roll over people and swallow them into his sticky clumpy form. With a longing blob-monster there is a loss of identity and autonomy. Really caring for and loving the other person is not your focus, because you are constantly consumed with whether or not they love you. In many ways this longing blob-monster is the opposite of love.

the-mistREJECTION: Lingering at every goodbye, and winning the award as The Biggest Fear, the interesting and confusing thing about rejection is the way the person with Limerence responds to the act. Like a person with a split personality, the person with Limerence behaves as someone who is trying to make rejection happen. Pushing their partner to the point of rejection reinforces the strength of the Limerence disorder. “If I push him away from me, and he no longer wants me—my need for him increases.” The possibility of rejection makes his approval more desirable. Being rejected is the key to keeping a person with Limerence interested. The thing they fear the most also feeds the disorder.

This is probably the most confusing monster.  The fear of being rejected escalates the longing to be desired which increases the obsession to do whatever is necessary to keep rejection from happening. Obsession and longing become slaves to the reward of being desired–but ONLY to be desired by the one who is capable of rejecting. A healthy relationship says, “If you don’t want me, I’m outta here.” With Limerence the threat of not being wanted feeds the other characteristics.

This rejection-craving monster takes the scariest form of all. Just when you think you can see it and no longer fear it—it changes. Every lie the rejection-craving monster tells you is only meant to confuse you. This monster masterfully convinces you that rejection will not only mean a loss of relationship, but a loss of self. This rejection-craving monster tells you that in the end—you, too, will disappear. The rejection-craving monster tells you that you will be forgotten.

For years the Limerence monster told me that he was the one in control. That’s a lie. God not only knows secrets about Limerence, but He also knows the way this can be harnessed for use in His Kingdom.  I have always known these parts existed inside me, but rather than owning them I tried to conform to the image of who I thought I was supposed to be. When I see myself now, I feel like I look different. God has a plan for people with Limerence that not only takes all of the monsters into account, but mysteriously turns them into something unexpected.

affair recovery · Limerence

Honest Beginnings – The Love Addiction Trilogy, Part 1

Long before sin corrupted my life, a dysfunctional way of thinking had polluted my mind and my heart.

In this 3 Part Blog Series I will attempt to explain what I have come to learn about Limerence, or “the love addiction”, and the way it corrupts the thinking of those it affects, and what I am learning about living with this psychological anomaly. This is not an excuse for why some people affected and afflicted choose sin. There is no excuse for choosing sin. Let me say that again, there is no excuse for choosing sin. THAT BEING SAID, I am going to explain the obsession and mind altering affects that happen when a person is affected by Limerence.

The Beginning of Limerence

I was an eleven year old girl in the mid-1970’s, and with both of my parents working full time, my two brothers and I were home alone for long, hot summer days. The boys and I would battle and brawl from the moment we woke until our Dad arrived home from his construction job.

Dad was a Licensed Contractor, and he worked most of my life for a man named Ernie. I never met Ernie, but I grew up with an unspoken fascination of him. I witnessed the way Dad regarded him. Dad didn’t respect many people, but whenever Dad talked about Ernie he only had good things to say, and it was obvious Dad had a desire to please the man. In my memories, it was every single evening that Dad seemed to be waiting for Ernie to call him on the phone. If someone else called our home, there was an urgent feeling to end the call. We needed to keep the phone free for Dad to receive his call from Ernie. This call meant there was work. This call would tell him where he was going and what he would be doing. Dad’s mood always improved when Ernie called. He spoke to the man in a tone I rarely heard. He smiled while he talked to Ernie.

rotary-phoneOur family phone, an ivory colored, rotary dial with a long spiraling cord hung on the wall in the kitchen. When it rang we could hear it anywhere in the house. There were no vibrations or special ring tones; every phone in every house in every neighborhood made the same sound. Oftentimes, in the summer months with our windows wide, I could hear a neighbor’s phone ringing in the distance. My imagination was developing; I would wonder who was calling the neighbor’s clunky wall phone. Could it be Ernie? Perhaps he was calling the father of one of my neighborhood friends and making him smile.

My whole life I have imagined this unseen man with dark eyes and dark hair, which has always seemed irrelevant until just recently. Seemingly insignificant details of childhood become significant through varying lenses of a life lived. We experience thousands of people as we move through schools, jobs, neighborhoods, apartment complexes, civil courts, grocery stores, little league fields, shopping malls, and restaurants, but we can develop a fascination for an unknown and unseen hero in our minds based on the way his phone call brought peace amid dysfunction.

Perhaps it was the chronic sibling wars that spawned my Grandma to invite me to join her on a road trip. It was an invitation like I’d never known. I was offered the chance to travel with my Grandma, and her second husband, Cliff, as they drove from California to Tennessee and back again.

Because of the timing of the trip, I would have to sacrifice something important if I chose to travel with Grandma and Cliff. Earlier in the summer, I had come across a flyer for a local Beauty Contest. My parents consented in my participation—as long as I could find a sponsor to pay the entrance fee for the contest.

With a strong desire to know if I was beautiful or not, I was motivated to find a sponsor and enter the contest. Perhaps I would win and the millions of questions I had about my appearance would finally be put to rest. So, when I wasn’t battling the brothers, I spent warm summer days riding my bicycle to various stores trying to persuade a business owner to be my sponsor.

hqdefaultI still recall the disparaging look on the face of the mustached man working behind the Kodak film developing counter at Sav-On Drug Store when I showed him my flyer and asked him if the drug store would be my sponsor for the Beauty Contest. He told me he couldn’t, and while his words didn’t give anything away, I felt his eyes measuring me up. The moment was humiliating, and it haunted me for years. (A decade later when Sav-On Drug Store was bought out by Osco, I breathed an overdue sigh of relief.)

I wasn’t embarrassed for having asked the drug store manager to sponsor me; I was embarrassed that I hadn’t been better looking when he rejected me. My mousy-brown, straight hair and sweaty skin sided with the drug store manager and I was certain he didn’t sponsor me because I wasn’t pretty enough.

When I made the decision to take the road trip with Grandma and Cliff, I was simultaneously making the decision to not enter the Beauty Contest, and freeing myself from having to find someone to be my sponsor. As I traveled in the backseat of Cliff’s large sedan and each day since, I’ve always known I made the right choice, but I also see how the incident was reinforcing the belief brewing in the heart of a little girl that she wasn’t quite “enough.” A cygnet among a pond of ducklings, perhaps, but the metamorphosis that would eventually come on the outside would never seep beneath the surface.

It was on this summer road trip with Grandma and Cliff when I had an experience that has stayed with me for nearly four decades. I wouldn’t come to know the name of it until it nearly destroyed my marriage many years later–but I recall it as vividly as if it happened last weekend.

blue-swallow-motel2We could have been in Nevada or Utah or New Mexico. Honestly, I have no clue which state we were in when I saw the boy. I only know we were at a motel diner. We had driven all day, and it was very late. I was eating a grill cheese sandwich while sitting in a black vinyl booth with my two elderly travel companions. I know I was eating a grilled cheese sandwich because I overheard a boy at a nearby table order the same thing. When he spoke I turned and looked at him. He was fabulous. He said, “I’ll have a grilled cheese sandwich, please.” These were the only words I ever heard him speak, but everything I ever heard him say was perfect.

His white blonde hair was glowing against his tan skin. He was incredibly good looking and once I spied him, I could not look away. The rest of his family is lost in the clouds of my mind, but he is vivid and alive and still sitting at the table just a few feet away. He catches me looking at him, but I cannot look away. A spell has come over me and it doesn’t feel good at all. Pain sears through me because I want him to want me as badly as I want him. Knowing nothing about him is irrelevant; I need him to want me. I need him to feel about me as I feel about him. I send energy across the diner which emblazes the neon lights on the building adding illumination to the desert highway. The blond boy feels it and he looks back at me. I am eleven years old, traveling across one of the less desired states, stopped at a motel restaurant, and I have found true love. The only thing I need to make everything perfect is to have my feelings reciprocated.

“Let’s go,” Cliff mutters. My step-grandfather drops some quarters on the table as a tip for the poor waitress and rises to leave.

“We’re leaving?!” I shout (in my mind).

I race across the space between the blond boy and myself, throwing my underdeveloped body into his arms. He puts down his grilled cheese sandwich. He is so happy to have found me. He tells me how his life is now complete, and we…kiss.

Or maybe I just stood up and followed Grandma and Cliff out of the diner.

Maybe I walked across the parking lot and entered our room, all the while feeling very confused at what I had just experienced.  Everything I had ever wanted was sitting at that table and the only thing I needed to feel complete was to have him return my affections.

An hour or so later, Grandma and Cliff were both asleep, and I lay awake on the roll-away cot thinking about the tan boy with blond hair. I listened to Cliff snoring and stared at my grandmother’s arm, now illuminated by the flickering fluorescent sneaking into the room through a crack in the shoddy curtains. I felt like my life was over, but really it was just the beginning.

The beginning of being not pretty enough.

The beginning of painful feelings, of wanting to be wanted.

The beginning of idolizing romance and physical attraction.

The beginning of dreaming up fantasies about dark eyed, dark haired men.

The beginning of Limerence.

Limerence is the involuntary state of mind which results in an obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated. It’s a psychological disorder associated with obsession and attachment. A person with Limerence will describe feeling as if they have lost control of their senses and are bombarded by intrusive and compulsive thoughts that involve a romantic connection.

My hope is that people who see what I am describing in themselves can sort it out before sin gets a grasp on them and leads them towards self-destructive behavior. I have come to believe that the majority of “romantic” affairs that happen are a result of Limerence. I hope that by uncovering information about some of the chemical releases and addictions associated with the disorder people can discover ways to harness the hidden power and make choices that bring life rather than destruction.

affair recovery

Beauty in the Aftermath

It was ten days after the affair had ended.

It was three days after my failure had been announced in a large public forum.

I wandered into my husband’s study and sat down at his computer and created this Blog-site.  As you may imagine, my head was spinning, my pride was still running rampant and there was a lot of humbling that still needed to be done in this train-wreck of a girl. In most ways, I had no business blogging. I didn’t have a clue about the trials that were coming our way.

A lifetime friend urged me to keep myself private, but as I stated, I was a prideful mess and I didn’t know how to submit to the wisdom of others. Like a caged animal, I thrashed around trying to escape the prison I had unwittingly created. Fortunately, God is bigger than the aftermath of our aftermath. He heard my cry for help in my first blog post, Exposure, and He drew near.

Since that time, God has humbled me in so many ways; He revealed where I needed to grow, and He continues to show me new areas everyday.

When I set up the blog I couldn’t imagine giving it a name. Honestly, I didn’t think it was more than a forum to unleash my ramblings to the seven people I originally invited to read. I had the blog settings on private. Even if someone had typed in the blog address they couldn’t get in and read it without an invitation. I never envisioned God using it in any way other than keeping me connected and accountable to a few safe people.

Over the last 13 months of writing, it has become obvious that writing is something I am called to do. It’s not obvious because of ease, because there is nothing easy about it. On a day to day basis, writing is one of the hardest things I do, but simultaneously, one of the things I crave. I probably don’t have to go into detail about why writing is hard.


So why the craving?

The craving comes from loving what you do and doing what you love. It’s about experiencing God in whatever that thing is that you do where you find Him. Joy comes when we are in a place that draws us closer to God.

Sure, confirmations from other people inspire us to continue.  Hearing from another person about the way they are being blessed by what we are creating means more than most of us know how to express, but complements mean nothing if we aren’t experiencing joy in the thing we are doing. If someone doesn’t enjoy reading and writing, affirmations alone will not bring enough joy to that person to compensate for the hours of reading and writing that they didn’t enjoy.

Also there’s this little oddity, a strength building joy comes from doing something you love that is equally hard because of the growth that comes through the enduring.

Growth doesn’t happen because someone tells you they liked what you did. It doesn’t work like that. Growth happens when we push ourselves beyond what we alone are capable of doing. In these instances, after we curse and cry, we make a choice. We either stop and find an easier path, or we lean into the hard thing until beauty arises in the chaos. As a believer we have the advantage of leaning into the Spirit of God. We aren’t in it alone.  

411737_10150619971141970_899374882_oIn 1995, our daughter, Molly Christine, died suddenly at the age of nineteen months and five days. That was easily one of the most formative things that had ever happened in my life. Following the Lord has been the most formative–but even my faith took a backseat to her loss for a while. The strange thing is, my faith didn’t take a backseat during the primitive days and years after losing Molly. It was quite the opposite, in fact. During the early awful times my faith was more real; more treasured.

There was true beauty in the aftermath of losing that little girl. In the most unexpected ways–beautiful things happened when we needed them to happen the most.

So here we are. A new crisis. A different crisis. A woman made crisis. My husband and I are walking another path of pain, and while sometimes we walk with the same stride–there are times we don’t. We both have immeasurable insecurities, but they come from different places. He has experienced a loss I will never fully understand. I experience guilt he absolutely cannot erase. As you might imagine, some days it’s extremely difficult to see beauty amid this mess.

We make choices.

Hearts lean in.

God shows His face.

Eyes adjust.

In those times we see beauty in the aftermath.

affair recovery · spiritual growth

When Comparison Met its Killer

Comparison dug its teeth into my heart. The irony of what I was experiencing was not lost on me, but it didn’t minimize the effect of the downward spiral of emotions I was feeling.

FullSizeRenderA couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak at a women’s coffeehouse event at a church in Phoenix. The woman planning the event has hired a coffee vendor with a cappuccino truck. She recruited two musicians to play acoustic guitars and sing cover songs, and I will have the incredible opportunity to speak to the women as they sit outside under white lights. The event is shaping up to be quite Pinterest worthy. The woman hosting is working hard to create an event that will be appealing to women who may not attend the church, as she has encouraged women to invite their friends.

After praying and considering how to approach the women, I felt the Lord leading me to talk about the destructive power of comparison. It was being confirmed in conversations and in the quotes to which I found myself drawn.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” -Theodore Roosevelt

I made plans to meet the woman at a bakery halfway between our neighboring cities to go over the coffeehouse event.  As I was getting ready to meet her, I thought again about the overarching theme I would present. In my mind, I reviewed my outline:


  • Quirky monologue; mention the irony of attempting to live a simple life with the pressures of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest looming on our ever-present hand held computer screens.
  • Mention the pressure placed on young moms to make frozen Popsicles from organic vegetables and to take a picture of their child eating the treat in the backyard under a tee-pee that they will construct themselves out of fabric ordered from a third world country.


  1. Comparison kills a person’s self worth:
    • Comparing our inward sinful thoughts to someone’s outward righteous behavior.
    • Self is lost to other.
    • Self becomes impossibly never good enough.
    • Eventually self is the the thing to be despised.
  2. Comparison kills creativity:
    • What might have been a brilliant idea is scrubbed away by fear.
    • Unique and different is sacrificed on the alter of similarity.
    • New ideas which lead to newer ideas which could lead to even newer ideas are lost before they are born.
  3. Comparison kills relationships:
    • Stop being different.
    • Be like me, dammit.
    • You’re doing it wrong.
    • You can’t sit with us.

I began to ponder the similarity between caparison and jealousy. When we compare ourselves to another human being we are essentially admitting that there is a part of us wishing we were more like them and less like ourselves. Wishing to have similar character traits of another person is not bad, because our focus is not on the person, but on the character traits. If I look at the joy I see in a friend, and I don’t see the same joy in my own life, I am faced with choices. I can look for ways to incorporate that joy into my own life, or I can make excuses as to why she has an easier time having joy because of her circumstances.

  • If only my child hadn’t died
  • If only my husband hadn’t been fired
  • If only I hadn’t screwed up my life

Translated in the language of comparison we are saying =

  • She doesn’t know real grief
  • She doesn’t understand financial hardships
  • She thinks she is a better person because she makes different choices than me

And, as if that’s not a bad enough translation, let’s take it one step further =

  • God took my child
  • God didn’t come through for my family
  • God hates who I became

I stated in a previous blog, Greedy with Love, my belief that there are many things we can be greedy for. After posting that blog I received emails corroborating my opinion that we have a bigger problem with greed than most of us would like to admit. Furthermore, I believe Greed and Jealousy are not only related but they may actually be fraternal twins! The two attributes are so similar in the way they affect us emotionally and in the way we are tempted to respond.

To properly break ties with greed we embrace generosity. It is impossible to be greedy and generous at the same time. The more we give away the less we will fear losing. We hold on tightly to the things we fear losing. When we give away the thing we fear losing we are actually giving away the fear of losing it. If we give away money, we won’t fear losing money. If we give away love, we won’t fear losing love.

I began to consider the notion that the key to ridding oneself of jealousy and comparison may come in the same fashion. To be free of jealousy and comparison we need to generously celebrate the accomplishments of others. By doing this we would be free of the negative feelings we were attaching to their achievements.

I added GENEROUS CELEBRATION to my mental notes.

  1. Celebrate Publicly
  2. Celebrate Privately

I was careful to hold tight to the importance of celebrating people both publicly and privately. Both have a place in people’s lives. There is a place for publicly voicing praise, just as there are times when a private email or a hand-written note is spot on. Give complements where they will best fit, but make sure they come from a spirit of generosity. Give of yourself.

And then this happened: Republican

As I prepared to walk out the door for the meeting, I was met with a reminder that caused me to be flooded with sadness over the life I lost because of my sinful choices. Family felt unreachable. Friendships felt distant. I felt alone. That isn’t a new feeling, it just comes on stronger at times. This time when reality hit home I found myself comparing the consequences from my sin with the consequences my affair partner did not face. Triggers were around me and I was reminded again that the way it played out for me was painfully different than how it played out for him.

Here I was preparing to meet with a woman and pitch an idea about the importance of not comparing and I found myself paralyzed in the land of jealousy over what this other person didn’t have to endure.

I don’t think there is any possible way to tell the next part of the story in a way that is interesting. What it involved first was confessing my struggle with the woman I with whom I was meeting. With tear-felt honesty I shared with her how I was struggling with the very thing I planned to share with her women. She listened and encouraged me. I promised her that I would pull myself together before I spoke to her women. She smiled and told me she had no fear in having me come to speak.

After my meeting I made a phone call to my daughter and poured out my heart. She, too, listened and encouraged.

The next part was a muddled two and a half hours of me sitting on my front porch and watching the birds. And praying. And crying. And watching the birds again. And praying some more. And crying again. And watching different birds…or maybe they were the same ones. And finally…after what felt like hours (because it had been) I picked up my notebook and reviewed my notes. Everything was in place, and yet none of it was working. And then it hit me. This is a spiritual battle. Battles for the soul require different weapons.

3. Celebrate Intimately

There are times when what we feel is so intense the best place to deal with those true emotions is with the One who understands our hearts without casting judgement. We cannot always reign in the frustrations we have with the situations we find ourselves in, especially if they are of our own hand or if they are attached to strong feelings of real injustice. In these times we can still celebrate the good that is happening in the lives of otherswith the One who loves everyone involved. We can’t always send a message to someone to celebrate the way that person is being blessed, but we can bend a knee and celebrate the provision and protection in their lives as a reminder of another way the Lord is good. The goodness in their life is a reminder of His goodness.

Every single one of us has the same chance and the same opportunity to live a Pinterest worthy life in the life we live on the inside. And, without comparison, this is the life best lived.