Friday, June 11, 2010

Sphere of Influence II

Good afternoon! I would just like to let you all in on a wonderful surprise and blessing. While letting our dogs play outside, I just happened to stumble upon a huge blackberry busy. We now literally have 1,000s of blackberries in our yard! At the beginning of the month, Zane and I had hoped to go pick blackberries at Washington Farms but were unable to due to a virus that had swept through their blackberry vines killing them all. God happened to bless us with more blackberries than we could have ever picked there. And they are free. Even better. Just a little reminder that God loves us freely and has a plan to prosper us. I love that in this moment He is doing so with blackberries.
Alright, onto setting good examples. In Sphere of Influence, I finished by quoting Beth Moore's statement: "Every acne-faced middle school girl you pass in the mall, texting on her cell phone or checking out that older guy in the food court, is your daughter. What are you going to do about her? What would you be willing to do for her?" And yes, I did feel like that was worth typing out again. It is far to easy to forget to remember that every girl around us we have the God-given responsibility to set an example for her! Dear friends, I fall short of that far too often. God help me be more like Jesus!
You may be wondering how we can set a better example for those around us. Before we do that, we have to STOP comparing ourselves to each other. Just because your best friend happens to fit perfectly into that cute summer dress from Target that doesn't quite accent your body in a way you would prefer doesn't mean you're fat. When we compare ourselves to each other and come to these unreasonable conclusions, it can take away from the intimacy of close friendships. "Intimidation suffocates the life out of intimacy" (Beth Moore). We tend to become competitive with one another--trying to be the prettiest, or the smartest, or the most athletic. You name some character or personality trait, and women can manipulate it into a competition. I hope you don't mind me sharing a little from Beth Moore's chapter 15: "The nature of our competition depends to a large extent on what we tend to value...We tend to make our toughest comparisons according to our top priorities...But we can stop playing the game even if no one else in our environment signs the no-compete...When we work from an activated mentality of God-given security, we are fully capable of thinking another woman is beautiful without concluding we are ugly. We can esteem another woman's achievements without feeling like an idiot. We can admire another woman's terrific shape without feeling like a slob. Where on earth did we come up with the idea that we have to subtract value from ourselves in order to give credit to someone else?" Friends! She nailed that question on the head. When I read that, I had to stop for a moment and think...yeah, where did I learn that? It is crazy. But far too often, we do just that! I have to give you a few examples that were pointed out in the book.
I tried to talk to her+she seemed really distracted=she hates me.
She's really gorgeous+she gets a lot of attention that I don't=she must be really conceited
Do those comparisons crack you up as much as they did me when I read them? Wow. I could definitely think of things in my own life where I had come to conclusions based off of the 'she is this+I am that' mentality.
We have to stop making these rationalizations about one another! Either we get hurt, or she gets hurt, or both of us! Not to mention, other people are often caught in the crossfire. And when we draw those conclusions about a dear friend, sometimes that conclusion can fester in us and become overly exaggerated--before you know it we see that friend as a rival rather than a person to share tea and laughs with. But before someone becomes a rival, we have to depersonalize them. They just become someone who is out to show us up. Or make us look bad. "And make no mistake, it's a vicious habit. In order to nurse a rival mentality, we almost always view our competitor through a one-dimensional lens. She is not a person. She is a contender."
Friends, how on earth can we set good examples for one another when we are so caught up in competing with every person we see?! 1 Peter 3:9 tells us to "Not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless one another, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing."
So how do we break the cycle? Ask God for help. We must humble ourselves before our Father. He already sees all the dirt inside us. We must ask Him to cleanse those areas and make us love one another. Love one another better. In doing so, God will make us into secure women, by making us more secure in Himself. In doing so, He will also enable us to encourage our friends into security. And as we become secure women, those around us will see. God will work in our lives more than we will ever know if we will just call on Him and let Him change us. "If you'll become the first example in your sphere of influence, you won't be the last" (Beth Moore). Isn't that refreshing?! Those acne-faced middle school girls can catch a bit of our God-given security and take it into their schools with them. Oh if our youngsters could just be secure in themselves, in Christ, then they wouldn't need to turn to boys. We must set the example. We have a world that God can and will change, and I sure hope He takes me along to be used as His vessel!
Beth Moore concludes this chapter by pointing out a verse. I never would have thought to think about this verse in this way, but I am so glad she pointed it out! When I became a Christian, Jesus came into my heart to dwell. And He is there right now, dwelling within me. Psalm 84:1 says "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!"
Breathe that in. Now reread that verse. Can you just imagine how different we would live if every one of our days we started off saying "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!" As Christ compels me to change, which I do as my relationship with Him grows--it simply cannot stay the same, and if it does, there is something terribly wrong in my life keeping me from my Saviour--then I grow more lovely. More lovely to be used by Him. Praise God! Too often we think we are growing uglier, older, less valuable. But Jesus thinks we are lovely and He has chosen to spend eternity with us.
So let's go out into the world secure, and with dignity, and with confidence, because the God of all creation, the ONE TRUE GOD, thinks that we have value...and He thinks we are lovely.
-Inspired by Beth Moore's book, So Long, Insecurity.

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