This morning, I was tapping through Instagram stories, and stopped when I saw that one of my favorite authors had gone live. When thousands of people from all over the world joined her live conversation in a matter of moments, she opened with, “Hi everyone! Welcome to the best day of your lives!” Her smile genuine and her tone optimistic, she dove into a discussion about why every day has the potential to be the next best day of our lives. Her energy was palpable and though I wasn’t able to watch her whole conversation, I put my phone down, a little more inspired than I had been to start.
There’s no doubt about it...the idea that we are all living in our best days, in the best season of our lives…it’s an attractive one. But is it true?
Can it really be true of everyone...even when circumstances, the demands of life, and its disappointments seem to surround us? Or does this statement only apply to the people who have it all together, the ones who seemingly aren’t struggling at all, the ones with the perfect eyeliner and dream vacations?
This had me thinking about perspective and comparison...two make or break things that will determine for us what we think about our present season. I believe it is truly within OUR power to determine what this season will be, but most of us have relinquished that power over to negative thinking, the voice of the Enemy, and the comparison trap. I’d like to suggest that too many of us have passively allowed inaccurate voices and beliefs to inform what we think about the lives we have. I see how it happens and I’ve been a victim of it too!
It’s easier to play the victim, to live as if everything is happening to us instead of for us, and it’s easier to blame the things around us instead of taking ownership for what’s missing inside of us.
But this is not the abundant life Jesus extends to us, it’s a half-life. And this is not the transformed thinking he calls us to, it’s a mind held captive by disbelief. The danger of both is not just that we miss out on seeing our lives for what they REALLY are, but we end up living like the rest of the world...dissatisfied, insecure, searching, and immobilized in our purpose. And instead of doing something about it, we hop from community to community, avoid taking responsibility, we find the watering holes that are all drinking the same haterade, and the people who are healthy, avoid us like the plague we’ve become. Ooh, I’m preaching, now!
I firmly believe you are living and breathing in potentially your best day yet. But to see it, you have to get a better view. To believe it, you have to stop looking over your shoulder at everyone else. To own it, you have to dig deep into every single lesson before it’s gone, and it’s Teacher has moved on to someone who’s listening. The truth is, God is good and his grace for us never runs out...we can come back to him and the things he has for us at any point in the journey. But how much time will we waste before we do? What doors will close, what yes’s will we miss, and who will we become in the meantime? The risk is too great, and your life is too important to waste another moment believing that everyone is “living their best lives” but you.
If you’re feeling stuck, if you’ve been a passenger on the comparison train for too many stops, and if you’re ready to own this season of life God has placed you in -- this blog post is for you.
Consider this your pep talk. Pour yourself a cup of something good, put away the distractions for a bit, and buckle up.
For most of my life, and especially recently, I have been misunderstood. Those on the outside-looking-in assume a lot about who I am. People call my confidence by the names of arrogance or pride. Instead of strong or smart, I’m controlling and opinionated. Many misunderstand my sense of motivation or drive to be a striving or an inability to rest. They think I am a full time pastor out of obligation to my family legacy and assume I have my job because it was “handed to me.” They think I came by my marriage with Reed easily, that what we have doesn’t take work, and that a “girl like me” doesn’t understand the single struggle. They wrongly assume that what I share on Instagram is the full picture...that we don’t train our dog, clean our house, or struggle like anyone else. And now, as I get ready to enter into motherhood, a whole new slew of skeptical, sarcastic comments have been hurled my way, attempting to bring my perspective “back down to earth,” to convince me that what I believe for my life or my child is naive, wishful thinking.
Why do I share this? It isn’t for pity, because friend, what hurting people think about me doesn’t matter to me. Nope, not anymore.
I open up this part of my heart because I want you to know and hear that when you begin to really own your season...when you begin to take Jesus at his word and walk in the abundant life he has for you, you’ll have haters. You’ll be misunderstood. You’ll be told that in your holiness and happiness, you’ve become inaccessible and unapproachable, so it’s time to “tone it down.” And some days, you’ll be tempted to. You’ll feel like sharing what God is up to isn’t worth it anymore, because no one is cheering alongside you, and you’re sick of everyone thinking the worst. You may lose friends, not because of any fault of your own, but because their insecurity became the lens through which they saw you. You may doubt yourself, not because God doubts you or because you’re missing the mark, but because we live in a culture of self-doubt, and the Devil is the freaking mayor.
Still, you must. You must own who God made you uniquely to be. You must own the season he’s given you. You must fight to maintain his perspective, quiet the inner critic, and dismiss the assumptions of others. Some consolation? Jesus knows how you feel because he’s been there too. He was arguably the most misunderstood man in history! He even told his disciples that a prophet has no honor in his hometown (Mark 6:4-6), and encouraged those who encountered haters to “shake the dust” and move on (Matthew 10:14). Did he let the haters stop him? No, he was obedient all the way to the Cross! He marveled at their disbelief and kept going. No matter what, Jesus owned his season, his call, and his identity in the Father. We can too. Let me get ya started.
Tips on Owning Your Season
1) Get the truth inside you.
The only victorious weapon that will never give out or lose its strength against the deceptions of comparison, discontent, and the wrong perspective for your season is the Word of God. As I jokingly tell my youth students, “Sorry, no shortcuts!” We have to be people of the Word! We have to read our Bibles and memorize what it says! In absence of its truth, we are either full of other stuff or completely empty. Whenever I start to notice my decisions, days or direction being led by my feelings, by what I see others doing, or by worry...I know I need to come back to this Book. How do we still go through our days without prioritizing time in the Bible? It might be hard to read, it might seem like a waste, but I’ll tell you...there is a spiritual battle happening between you and the decision to get in the word every day, because of how drastically it can change your trajectory. Hear yourself saying the same old things? Believing lies? Find that you’re caught in an old narrative? Get a new one. Win that fight. Open up the Scriptures. Get its truth inside you. Be faithful to it and you will get a love for it. Plainly put, we’re nothing without it.
2) Up your pace.
My husband Reed recently started taking our dog Chloe on runs with him. Reed’s always been a consistent runner, and usually stays around the same mile time and distance (which was already good to begin with!) Adding Chloe to the mix has shaved a full minute and thirty seconds off of his average pace! Simply having her along was all it took to make him run faster and harder than he would on his own. We need friends and a community that will up our pace. As my Dad often says, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, get a new room!” Notice I didn’t say we need to start competing. And I’m not talking about getting busier. No, our world has enough of that. We just need to challenge ourselves. We need new running buddies. We need to be learners, and listen to messages and podcasts that convict us. We need to stop settling for relationships with people who hold us back, remain complacent, and aren’t producing the “fruit” we want to see in our own lives. This isn’t to say we can only do life with people who are ahead of us...but I think where we invest our friendship and output, we invest our lives. So at least balance it out! Stop wasting your time! Consider the voices you’re listening to, consider the bar you’ve set, and set it higher! If other people’s wins make you insecure, that’s on you, not them. You may need a little bit of what they have going on to rub off on you! My friends and I have weaknesses, struggles, and bad days like everyone else, but pay close attention to how we respond to those realities, and you’ll see the difference.
3) Look out the window.
Most victims have made their lives and seasons about themselves. They’re the people who turn every conversation (even maybe sarcastically) back onto themselves, they’re the ones who identify with their struggles, and they’re the ones who can’t be told anything without getting offended! Put them in a circle of confident people and you’ll see all of those defenses bubble right up. Self-centered people can also have rigid boundaries, an unwillingness to put themselves out there, be a blessing to others, and an uncooperative spirit with what God is trying to do through them. If any of this is making your heart beat fast, and if you’re honest, you fit the bill...look out the window. Start making more of your life about the lives of others, about serving, about being inconvenienced for the sake of your purpose! Owning your season in a sustainable way, a way that goes beyond circumstance or obvious blessing, is directly connected to how you treat and serve others. Being a blessing is the quickest way to get out of a funk! Losing perspective? Getting trapped in your own pit of self-centered destruction? Start walking into rooms interested, instead of trying to be interesting. Put your phones down. Look out your window and see where you might be able to give a little of your bounty away, and then do it.
4) Treasure your treasure.
There’s just no other way to put it: we want the treasure of others, while ours gathers dust. Owning your season means taking better care of what you have, it means saying thank you, and it means not buying the lie that having more or different will make you happy. I preach this all the time...rearrange your living room, give that table a fresh coat of paint, look through your closet and put some new outfits together, plan a family day, get a haircut...you get it, take ownership! Stop looking around and just do the next best thing with what’s in your hand…and do it with gratitude! Stop assuming that once you “arrive” at that place you’ve made an ideal in your mind, everything will be made right. No, what’s wrong or missing isn’t out there, it’s a perspective that’s missing from your soul. Some of you need to start by cleaning your house. Some of you need to take seriously YOUR part in a relationship. Some of you need to start going to church to be a blessing and uncross your arms. Some of you need to get in the dirt and plant your own dang garden to appreciate the flowers. Some of you need to just start embracing where you are! Trust me: treasure YOUR treasure, and watch it sparkle again.
Alright, this pep talk is coming to an end. There’s more, but life is calling and we’ve got some work to do.
You can be sure that if you and I were sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops (where I happen to be writing this right now), we’d be having this conversation in person. I’d grab your hand across the table and whisper urgently, “Enough, own your season.” I’d look in your eyes, eager to shake you, and I’d say, “Hi, welcome to the best day of your life. Are you awake?”
Time to wake up. Time to reclaim your perspective. Time to silence comparison. Friend, I’m running alongside you. Let’s go a little faster…a little further. I know you can.