The Your stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…
Forenza sweaters, leg warmers, acid washed denim, and anything neon were a few of my favorite things growing up in the 80’s. My friends and I rocked the Aqua Net big bangs and cobalt blue mascara while we spent weekends watching Molly Ringwald movies and listening to Whitney Houston belt out her ballads. The year was 1988 and no dance was complete until the song “Forever Young” by Alphaville was played at high decibels in the high school gymnasium. Large groups of teenagers would sing at the top of their lungs…Forever Young, I want to be Forever Young. Hmm… well, perhaps I just didn’t sing those lyrics loud enough in the 80’s because that darn mirror keeps telling me I’m not staying forever young, instead, I’m forever growing older.
Three years ago I came to the realization that I indeed was getting older. No matter how many face and body creams I was suckered into buying, I was discovering more and more wrinkles on my face and as much as I scrubbed those dark spots, they weren’t coming off. The hereditary sloped chin was starting to make its appearance and well, let’s just say that lots of things start to slope when you get to be my age. Upon entering my 40’s, it was common for me to play the comparison game in my head, and piece by piece my self-worth and self-esteem gradually began to plummet. I couldn’t figure it out. I was in a great season of life, raising two incredible sons, and I had a husband who loved me unconditionally and believe me, I have some conditions. Why was I thinking this way? These thoughts spilled over into my workplace, my friendships, my family, and even into my church activities. I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of those negative thoughts that ran through my head and the way they slowly deceived me into thinking that God was done using me for His purpose just because I was getting older.
A good example of this was my experience at church. I had actively been serving on our church worship team for years, but I was beginning to question whether or not I should still be a part of it with each millennial that joined the team. Was my voice measuring up to the newest vocal styles? Did my outfit look too frumpy next to the one who could rock the skinny jeans? Did I not get scheduled this month because they are trying to phase me out to add younger people? I realize as I type this now that it seems so silly to think these things, but in reality, it consumed me and this was just one area of my life that was affected. I knew I needed a different mindset and something had to change, fast.
I will forever be grateful for finding Sandra Stanley’s devotional entitled, Comparison Trap…Choosing Contentment in the Age of Awareness. This devotional changed my outlook and I highly recommend it if you at all find yourself constantly looking to others to see where you fit in. Sandra explains that the comparison trap tricks us into thinking that God’s blessings are in limited supply, but in reality He has a unique plan for us all…no matter what our age. She points out that when we are too preoccupied by looking to the left and to the right to see what other people are doing, we may just miss out on the plan that God has for us. Whoa, that hit me where it hurt and was the harsh reality that I needed to hear. That is exactly what I was doing and I had been wasting too much time with this silly little comparison game.
You see, I realized that there will always be someone younger, prettier, smarter, and skinnier than me…envy is always going to try to make a mess of things. Sandra’s devotional helped me realize that God doesn’t ask us to change what we have been given, but what is important is how we use what He has given us. I decided right then and there that I was going to embrace my age and be ready for anything that God brought my direction. No more comparing myself to others…my eyes were going to be set on the One who knows my exact age is and STILL has a plan for my life. He had been patiently waiting for me to stop looking to the left and to the right…my eyes were finally looking up!
I am so glad I had that life changing moment. Yes, I still have times where I find myself in the comparison trap and that is when I go to God’s word and am reassured that He has great and mighty things for MY life. I am still reminded every morning in the mirror that I am getting older, but instead of looking to the past, I am looking forward into all the things that God has brought into my life in my “seasoned” years. He has blessed me with the opportunity to serve alongside some outstanding women OF ALL AGES on the Collide ministry team. God designed each of us with our own gifts and talents and we use them to help women discover authenticity, wholeness, and purpose through the knowledge of who they are in Jesus Christ. God has assured me that I am not too old to lead worship, as this is the role I fill within the Collide ministry. I see His blessings in my life in a way I never have before and I believe the best is yet to come. My dear friend, Catherine, said it best when she announced at her 50th birthday that she was embracing her new age, as many people are denied the gift of growing older. Yes, I am going to do just that, embrace my age AND be available for God to use me wherever He sees fit. Besides, there is only one me and I am the ONLY one that can fulfill the purpose that God planned for me even before I was born. I encourage you today to stop the comparison trap cycle and meditate on what the Bible says in Romans 12:5 (The Message):
“… let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
God has a unique plan for your life no matter what age you are and only YOU can fulfill it. So, instead of looking to the left and to the right comparing yourself to others…look up! Next summer at my 30th high school reunion, I will be the one busting out my 80’s dance moves and singing those Forever Young lyrics in a whole new way. You see, I have chosen to remove myself from the comparison trap and I plan on staying Forever Young in God’s plan for my life. I hope you will do the same.