One of My Daily Sin Battles: Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

One of my daily battles with sin is comparing myself to others. Before I go into more detail, I would like to address why, in fact, comparison is a sin. Mainly, it is a sin because of the tenth commandment that says do not covet. In other words, do not get jealous and desire something you do not have. Most people in today’s society probably don’t think comparing oneself to another is harmful or sinful towards anyone. However, when you compare yourself to another, you are committing a sin against several parties: God, yourself, and those you harbor close relationships with.

First, comparing yourself to others is a sin towards God because you are devaluing the creation He made! You are telling God, “Who you created me to be is not good enough for me. You do not know what you are doing.” Have you thought about how crazy that is? God knows every fiber of your being and has every day of your life planned, as said in Psalm 139:13-16:  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well! My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” I do not know about you, but to me, that is not a God who does not care, who did not put intricate precision into His creation. He has had our plans and beauty in mind before we even took a breath! As stated in Matthew 10:30, He evens knows the number of every hair on our head! When you compare yourself to somebody, whether it be an outward physical appearance, a personality trait, or a strength, you are rejecting what God created.

Second, comparing yourself to others is a sin towards yourself because you are loathing in self-pity. You are loathing in self-pride. You create for yourself a pit of depression and misery, a life with no joy. If every moment of self-reflection is spent looking down at yourself, than you have no room to see all the goodness inside of you. There will be no self-confidence. I know this from personal experience. Anytime I fall into my pit of comparison, nothing is good enough for me. It does not matter what anyone says or does, nothing is good enough. It can be so bad sometimes that no one wants to be around me, which is where self-pride comes in. Whether they be bad thoughts or good thoughts, any thoughts centered on oneself are prideful. It’s not healthy, nor is it wise, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:12: “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

Third, comparing yourself to others is a sin towards those you harbor close relationships with because it opens the door to you comparing them to others on top of yourself! Once we began comparing ourselves to others, Satan has no trouble feeding lies, thus enticing and often causing us to throw the ones we love under the same bus. This becomes toxic and hurtful because they are not even involved. Comparison is a mind-game with yourself and Satan. No one else is involved unless you make them involved in your head. However, the fine line with that is once an idea of self-worth slips into your head, it will not conveniently leave. It will pry and pry and pry to where sooner or later, you aren’t the only one in the pit of depression and misery, so are the ones you love. That is the sad, true illustration of comparison being the thief of joy.

Our only hope is to cling to the grace of Jesus. It is not easy, but it is so worthwhile. In my weakest moments of comparison, I have to continuously remind myself who I am in Christ. No other truth about myself, my self-worth, or my identity is valid. I urge you brothers and sisters, cling to what is good, cling to the power of Jesus! He is the only ONE who can restore joy in your soul!

Blessings,

Renata

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A Tough Pill to Swallow: Redefining Success

What is your definition of success? When you end each day, each week, and each year how do you determine it is successful? Most people, including myself, probably say one’s success is defined by how well they do at work. In today’s dog eat dog world, professional success is in the spotlight every single day. There is almost always someone who wins an award or reaches a great milestone in their career that the world feels the need to broadcast. However, more so than that, the world lives, breathes, and thrives off of putting professional failures in the spotlight. I think people spend more of their lives downgrading and belittling someone’s success than they do embracing it and celebrating it.

With all that said, though, there is so much more to life than money, fame, and fortune. Therefore, why do we capitalize on it so much? To put it simply—because we are greedy, selfish human beings. We always want more. There is no such thing as being content with little or even much in today’s world. The world, especially the United States, says more is always better! Strive for more. Always try to be a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday. Yes, there is some truth to that. But, it should be taken with a very small grain of salt.

Instead of focusing on professional success, it is time we learn to define success in other outlets and ways. For example, for the longest time, I thought having a job would validate who I was as a person. I was so focused on trying to be nearly perfect in my work-life that I began to ignore my emotional, spiritual, and mental life. As much as I would like to deny it, I am quite a subjective, emotionally driven person—at least in the heat of the moment. When responding to tough or trying situations, my first instinct is to respond emotionally. Now, why does this matter in a successful job? It matters because when I am not emotional balanced—if I do not have the capacity to respond in a calm way to a stressful situation—then I cannot be fully efficient at my job. I would characterize myself as someone who easily gets mentally distracted, especially if I have something emotionally taxing or difficult to process. Why is that important in my work life? Well, I struggle separating my personal life from my work. A tough personal problem that I do not have the power to change while at work can affect my entire work day: I am not as focused, I am not as driven, and I make careless mistakes. The point is—I am not mentally at peace. I have not reached mental success. For me, mental success is the ability to compartmentalize my life when necessary. I am emotionally and mentally healthy or effective when I am able to differentiate my present issues from the present task to be completed. It is when I jumble the two that I am no longer efficient and reliable.

Now, that isn’t to say that good, positive personal situations cannot effect my work habits—because they do. It is in our human nature to reflect our personal lives in our work somehow. That is not always bad, but it is something to be weary of. For example, most college students perform poorly academically when emotionally or mentally draining situations are the frontal focus of their lives. It is natural to be distracted in areas that require a lot of stamina when storms of life come.

All in all, we have a warped view of success. It should not always be the number of dollar signs that define our success in life. That often leads to depression and not feeling good enough. Personally, I believe I am not ever fully successful until I can maturely and peacefully deal with the storms of my life. In the time that I have not had a job, I have slowly and painfully come to the realization that my lack of or presence of a great job cannot and should not define me. It does not how successful I am; if I cannot walk into my office fully prepared and alert, able to give all the problems I cannot fix at the present moment to Jesus, then I am not successful. No matter how many great remedial tasks I accomplish for a boss, I am still not successful. I need all three components, no doubt about it. Talk about a tough pill to swallow.

Blessings,

Renata

Overcoming & Understanding Loneliness

“Why do I write? It’s not that I want people to think I am smart, or even that I am a good writer. I write because I want to end my loneliness.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

Guys, I am telling today has been a rough day in regards to writing a blog post. I am struggling to overcome a problem I face every now and again as an introvert—loneliness. Ironically enough, writing is exactly what I need to do overcome it some days. It may seem like an oxymoron for an introvert to be lonely, but it can happen. Much of my week, I have been homebound, due to my car being in the shop. Considering I moved recently, I have more than enough tasks to choose from to keep me from being lonely. But really, that is not it at all.

Believe it or not, there are times I yearn to be around people. It probably happens a couple times a month, in no real visible pattern. It just happens. Sometimes it is two days in a row, others it is for only part of a day. Nevertheless, today is one of those days. I yearn to be in fellowship in some way. Once I reach the point where I yearn for human connect, all motivation to complete necessary tasks is lost on me. Typically, I love to do the dishes. I find it very soothing to wash dishes by hand. But, in my current state, not even doing dishes sounds appealing.

Incredibly enough, I think my desire for human contact as a common introvert really says a lot about God and His creation, and the human body itself. Yes, we are all wired more dominantly one way, while not so dominantly in others. Yes, we get it. However, despite what some people may believe, they can have their minor tendencies flourish and show—but only for a moment before the well-oiled machine of our human body works like new again. Knowing that alone, shows that we can be compassionate towards others in most situations. Not all, but most. Most of the time, at least in a molecular-like sense, we can relate with others that may not be like us. Because much of humanity works in the same nature, it is not completely absurd to relate on a polar opposite level.

I know that come tomorrow I will wake up anew and be content with my introverted ways. However, for the time being, I will relish in the moment of wanting something that my body usually doesn’t agree with. I will relish in the beauty of the human body that God gave me. I will take this day to learn more about others that may not be like me through my own current actions and behaviors. Lastly, I will take this day to sweetly think about someone else out there who may be curiously experiencing my typical human traits.

Blessings,

Renata

Marriage: What God has Joined Together

“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” – Mark 10:9.

I am getting married in less than one month! In less than one month, I will become one with my best friend. Planning the wedding has been stressful, yes. However, I knew it could get stressful at times, especially since I only had five months. But, I can guarantee that I am not a crazy bridezilla who is stressed about every little detail. No matter what happens leading up to the wedding day, or on the wedding day itself, by the end of it all, I will be married. Regardless of whatever happens, I will be a wife. Carrying that truth with me throughout the planning process has allowed me to enjoy most of it, especially because I am planning a beautiful worship service to God! A wedding ceremony and marriage itself is so much more than what the world portrays it to be. God created marriage! He did the moment He said Adam should not be alone in Genesis 2:18, “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” That is not to say that Adam was not to be lonely. No, Adam was never lonely because He had God. Adam’s helper, Eve, was there so Adam could share with someone what God had created.

The marriage that follows a wedding day is most important, thus why I am not worried about the actual day at all. I am sure to many people’s surprise, I am not too nervous about walking into marriage either. In fact, I am mainly excited! Both of us clearly know what role we are to play in our future marriage, as clearly expressed in the Bible. There is no uncertainty. Without a doubt, I know God brought us together for a reason. He is the only one who can create such a beautiful relationship. I am not nervous because I have the honor and privilege of showing God’s relationship with the church and His people with my marriage. I may not understand why He chose marriage to show His relationship with His Bride—the Church—but He did! No other earthly relationship was so clearly designed with that intent. I hope and pray that people can see God’s bounty through my future marriage.

God’s purpose for marriage is what sets Christian marriages apart from others. That is not to say that Christian marriages do not face trials because they do, every marriage does. I am very well aware my marriage will not be a walk in the park. However, I also know that no trial or tribulation will be too difficult to overcome because God is at the center of my relationship with my soon-to-be-husband. On my wedding day, I am ultimately making a covenant promise with God!! When I get married, I vow to let no man EVER bring my future husband and I apart. God creates such a beautiful masterpiece and tapestry with marriage: Two flesh become one! That right there is one of the many reasons why I cannot wait to change my last name! I cannot wait to become one flesh with my husband. To share a closeness with someone that I do not have with anyone else. It is exciting to think of all the ways God will use my marriage to be bring me closer to Him. I am grateful for His gift and blessing on my life. May He be glorified on the wedding day and the days to come.

Blessings,

Renata

One of My Daily Battles with Sin: Anger

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6.

Guys, I am going to be completely honest with you. Sometimes I do not want to write a blog post simply because it forces to be honest with others about my life. Today could’ve been one those days I did not write anything out of fear of the truth. But, I am not going to let that happen this time. This time, I choose to be vulnerable with people.

One of the daily battles of sin I fight is anger. I have had anger problems for as long as I can remember. In fact, I spent my first night in America sleeping on a hardwood floor solely because of my anger. My anger is an ugly, little monster that burns within at the worst moments. For nearly 15 years, the only way I have ever known how to deal with my anger was to blow up—to practically blow a gasket. Blowing up consists of me yelling, screaming and thrashing things around. However, the biggest result of my blow ups involves me becoming my own worst critic. In those fragile, yet almost volatile moments, I believe every lie that Satan has ever told me: “Renata, you are worthless; you have no value; you are a failure; no one loves you. You are not good enough; stop believing that you can be better.” That list is my broken record of shame.

Growing up, I learned to bottle up all my issues in life. I never talked about how I truly felt about anything. I did not ever express any pains I was feeling. I knew that if I did so, it would entail another lecture. I spent so much of my life trying to please other people that I forgot to take care of myself. My subconscious always fought the never-ending battle of works-based love and unconditional love. Because of that inner battle within me, I never learned how to peacefully talk things out. I did not want to upset others and I did not want to fail. Therefore, I would not talk about practically hundreds of issues until one little comment set me off. One spark set off my ticking bomb.

For years, I thought that was normal. I could see my parents were trying to understand what was going on. But, after a while, they would just let me go to my room and the current issue would not be resolved. After training my body to do so for years upon years, it became very difficult to break the cycle. I would LOVE to tell you I no longer struggle with anger, due to the power of Jesus. But, I still do. However, what I will tell you—I am far better now than where I was three years ago when I began college. Without a doubt, I know God is doing a mighty work in me. I may still slip back into my old nasty ways, and let my anger get the best of me, like I did today, but I know that God is not finished with me yet. He will not be until I see Him in Heaven. I have hope knowing that He is still working on me. I can rest in His truth knowing that He will never give up on me or leave me.

I do not know what struggles with sin you all carry, but just know that God is not finished with you yet either!! He cares about you SO MUCH. Clinging on to the truth that God cares for me is the only way to get out of my angry blow ups. It is no coincidence at all that God’s truth is the only winner in my inward battle with Satan and my anger. Please, do not beat yourselves up and fall into a pit of shame for going back into old ways. We are all going to slip up and sin! Do not let that one moment of sin destroy the beautiful artwork God is molding you in to. For anyone out there with any anger problems, no that you are NOT ALONE. My only wish is that this post encourages you to be vulnerable and honest with others. It is scary, yes, but it is so worth it. Do not give up! Rest in His Truth, this day and every day: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14.

Blessings,

Renata