A Habit That Haunts Us

 

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I watched as two little boys stood back to back in the gym measuring to try to prove who was the taller of the two. Not too many feet away, two little girls were comparing the colors and number of styles of rubber band bracelets they had.

 

Is there a standard for rubber band bracelets? I thought this was supposed to simply be a fun activity. Is there really a good, better, best?

 

It seems as if we are all caught up in measuring something, someone, or ourselves.

 

It starts early in life as children. It comes down to biggest, best, or most sorts of things. It might look harmless enough, but it begins to set a grid in place, a filter, that lingers well into adulthood and causes us to continue to measure.

 

To measure means to compare, to determine a better or best, a worse or worst.

 

 I am not suggesting it is all bad. When I go to the grocery store, I hand select the apples, bananas, grapes, and other produce to assure I get the “best” of what is offered for the “best” price.

 

I confess that beyond the color or style of a chair or couch, I am asking about the “best” fabric that will stand up under wear or repel stains when I am buying a piece of furniture. I want it to last and I want my money to go as far as possible.

 

Other comparisons become more problematic. It can be easy to look at who has the newest car or house, who has the nicest office, who gets the most exotic vacations, and on and on.

 

Those sorts of comparisons provide fertile ground for jealousy, envy, and aggressive zealousness that sets aside solid values for people, practices, and principles. It divides families, friends, neighbors, and nations.

 

A great deal of energy can go into all of these pursuits, but what impact does it have on our soul?

 

Sadly, these sorts of comparisons can creep into our spiritual lives and organizations as well.

 

What impact does it have on eternity?

 

I think we really know that Jesus measures differently.

 

Jesus looks at the content of our heart, not the size of our bank account. Jesus looks at the quality of our character, not the titles or positions we hold.

 

 Jesus’s choices are a paradox to us. He chooses those that others skip over or reject. He honors small people and small things. He recognizes those who are humble and don’t speak of their achievements if they have them versus those who give Him lists of what they have done hoping to impress Him.

 

Each day I have a choice to make. What will I do with the time that has been allotted to me? The challenge for me is to put on His lenses to determine that.

 

Yesterday I had no grand plans, no appointments to keep, and no errands to run. Even as a retiree those days are not as common as you might think. Was I going to measure my day by some level of what is considered productivity? (That is always a big temptation if you have been raised with a strong work ethic as I was.)

 

The truth is there were many things I could do and perhaps should do and some of those did get tackled. I still deal with the question in my head at the end of the day that asks, “what did you accomplish today”.

 

The best thing the Lord showed me through His lenses was that it was simply a day I was available, available for His use as needed.

 

 When my schedule is full for the day, I am not so available for anything else that might come up. I can’t be on standby for anyone or anything very easily. I also cannot “bank” resources to replenish my own heart and soul that I may need later or that He might want to use later.

 

On this “standby” day I received several emails about significant prayer needs and I had time to not only pray, but also to send a handwritten note to encourage the persons. I also had time to listen to a friend without needing to interrupt her to go running off somewhere. My heart and soul were filled up with an extended quiet time and finishing a book that enriched my reflections.

 

The measure that matters is what matters to Him. That is what will impact eternity.

 

 

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Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “A Habit That Haunts Us

  1. Sometimes we can compare ourselves to our own expectations we think we should be keeping up with (like that endless to-do list). I’m glad you had a stand-by day. My parents are retired (and it’s not that far off the path for us, really) and they are so busy! I love your blog name too. I pray that every day I can put on a new lens and see what God wants me to see.

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    1. You are so very right, Valerie! Sometimes we are prone to set a bar so high that we keep ourselves swirling all the time! I’m glad you like the blog name. It has had a great deal of meaning to me beyond my photography. Your affirmation and encouragement is much appreciated.

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  2. “Jesus measures differently.” I’m so grateful for that! I love that you had a “standby” day and were available. I need to create more space for those. Thanks for sharing, Pam.

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  3. I love this! “Standby”…what on earth would this needing, hurting world do if no one was on standby? Thanks for sharing such a neat perspective! (Your neighbor from #livefree!)

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    1. Thanks! It is a hard thing to do (even as a retired person), but when I can do that the Lord is showing me the rewards of it. I appreciate your affirmation and encouragement.

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  4. Hi Pam,
    What a pretty picture and what thoughtful words you share! Comparisons can distract us and rob us of all that’s beautiful right in front of us so I love what you write about being available — to God and others – -isn’t that what it’s all about! Nice to visit with you today!

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  5. I have struggled for some time now with basing my self-worth on how much I get done. So productivity is a huge thing for me. I often don’t take time to just have a day open (they aren’t often) and the result is I’m stressed a lot. Which isn’t good at all.
    The Lord is working with me on it though. 🙂
    Thank you so much for this post!
    ~Haley

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    1. Hi Haley! I understand the challenge all too well. I think we all have a somewhat distorted value where productivity is concerned and perhaps miss how He looks at this. I keep remembering that He was aware He would only have a short time to minister here when He walked the earth, but I never saw Him rushing around and counting up how many miracles He could do in a day.

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  6. Great words! I love how you pointed out the positive and negative aspects of comparison. Definitely something to think about. Thanks so much for linking to Waiting on…Wednesday!

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  7. Pam, I was really enjoying this post until you went and tromped on my toes!

    That productivity thing gets me every time, and it’s so subtle. Not only do I over-do it, but then I make a virtue out of my breakneck lifestyle and measure the world against my broken ruler.

    Thank you (I think) for your strong words.

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    1. So sorry I stepped on your toes. I do understand completely. It is a habit I have known well and the Lord has worked long and hard to begin to rein in what was not bringing honor to Him nor health to me. It can still sneak up as you so well put!

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