The shouts echo from the family room and as much as I try to avoid them, I know I’ll have to referee. I can’t see what’s taking place, but I know. My rising blood pressure is a sure sign.
As I stand in the doorway, my suspicions are confirmed. There are hundreds of toys strewn across the house, but my four-year-old wants the one her big brother is playing with. It doesn’t matter that the airplane is missing a wheel and a fin. The reason she wants it is quite simple. Her brother has it.
As I kneel down before her tiny frame and try to reason with her, mustering as much calm as I can, I can see how I’m going to have to divert her attention elsewhere. But to divert a determined, strong-willed child’s focus this is no easy task.
Every mom goes through it: the stage of “mine.” Everything has the “mine” title and there is no discernment about it. If the child sees it, it is his. And am I so different? Sure, I do a better job of controlling my fits of anger and masking symptoms, but the jealousy and coveting still threaten overtake me when I don’t guard my heart and mind.
Often, my gauge for how well I’m doing is comparison to others in a similar role.
I look at what they have. I take mental notes on the goals they’ve achieved. When I think they’re moving forward at a quicker pace than I am or are more in the spotlight than me, the flesh often takes over. What about me, God? Haven’t I been faithful? Didn’t I do what you asked me to do?
It isn’t that I don’t want them to be blessed or see their dreams realized. I know how hard they’ve worked. I’ve witnessed the sweat and the tears firsthand.
No, it’s how my mind distorts their progress. I see their success as somehow taking away from my movement forward. I take my eyes off my ultimate goal, Christ, and instead begin running down a rabbit trail of discouragement and self-defeat.
The truth is, when I compare I am resurrecting my old, dead self. I am saying my new identity in Him isn’t enough. That I would rather be a clone of someone else.
But friends, God doesn’t create clones. He creates unique masterpieces.
Paul knew the temptation to resurrect that old self. But he also knew the power of the One who was working in Him. He would not achieve full transformation in this life, but he kept pressing ahead, not looking at what was behind or in the other lane.
I want to know Christ-yes to know the power of the resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…Not that I have already attained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.
To take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me. Friends, there is nothing more than this. It is perfect love, unblemished by the world. It is everything.
Today, if you’re tempted to divert from the path God has called you to and chase after someone else’s dream, look up to your Author. Look up to your Finisher. Confess with your mouth what you’re feeling. He already knows. Praise Him for the work He will finish in you. He’s not done yet. And then wrap yourself in the grace of knowing that even when we lose our focus, He’s right there to pick us back up.
If you need to shift your focus from what others say about you to your permanent identity in Christ, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“Abby’s gentle approach to life’s more difficult situations will be a healing balm to the aching reader’s soul. Filled with both prescriptive hope and a realistic understanding of what life is like when all does not fit within tidy, easy answers, Abby writes with an kind voice. Shift provides a respite to the weary traveler and a light with which to dispel the confusion.” -Rosa H.
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.