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I left home raw with emotions and came back utterly emotionally exhausted, yet rejuvenated at the same time.

The theme was “I am more than…”

Numerous women gathered together for a women’s retreat. They shared their stories of being more than the season they were in, the circumstances of their life and their emotions.

Every woman in that room had something to share and most did. They shared the work of Jesus in their lives, or the desire to see Jesus do a mighty work. They shared pain and healing. They shared their stories of redemption. The sharing of their stories drew us together. There was a powerful feeling of connectedness that happened as stories were told.

We had a great introduction to our weekend as our first speaker talked about redemption. She shared how redemption is MORE THAN the forgiveness of sins. It is more than payment. It includes deliverance and restoration. She talked about our stories being important because they are – OUR stories. They are OUR journeys. They are personal and there is joy to be found in each one.

She also shared how she has experienced the thoughts of “I have no story because nothing major has happened in my life” to thoughts of “Oh, well I have been through this, this and this. When YOU have been through this…come talk to me.”

While I recognized what she said and agreed with the point she made, I did not realize I was about to engage in the same sad game of comparison.

In hearing women share their stories I found myself doing the very thing I seek to not do – judge others.

I walked into the room consumed by a number of things that have been wearing out my heart for some time. Honestly, I was focused on me and my pain. As the stories poured forth I found myself judging one person in particular and thinking, “Oh, she’s just dealing with such and such. Whatever.¬† My struggles are far more challenging then hers.” UGH. It hurts to admit this ugliness in me, but it was there.

Then, I heard more. More of her real story and the things God has brought her through. Oh my goodness. So much more than I’ve dealt with.

Now ashamed, I went from thinking she had no real reason to cry to thinking she is such an amazingly strong and vibrant woman of God. I found myself going from a stance of thinking, “Oh, I could help her with blah, blah, blah” to “Oh Lord, let the peace and strength she has resonate through me more!”

Just as I am typing this up, my email notifier showed up on my screen to let me know about books dealing with humility.¬† Nice Lord.¬† I just love your sense of humor. Deep breath now…it’s a journey I’ll continue to take.

As I recognized that her story had great value, I also felt myself comparing again. Now I saw more value in her than in myself. I felt myself on both sides of comparison in this one woman sharing her story. As another speaker, Carrie, said when she spoke, we so often compare ourselves with others.

We can compare ourselves with anything. “It’s a gift. We don’t even have to think about it. We just do it.” {Carrie Stephens}

Yep – I sure did. It was humbling and it was eye opening.

When the retreat closed the Lord gave me a shift in my perspective.  I was able to see the judgment I quickly passed, the shift of valuing this woman more and then even the fight to not let her value, her story, overshadow my own value in the Lord.   

I saw a need for improved lenses so that I can see others, and myself, more as Jesus does.¬† I needed a new perspective of the value of the Lord’s work, whether in me or in others. My perspective changed to allow me to see each story and each work of redemption as valued for what it is, the work of a loving author and healer who desires redemption for each of us.

It is my heart’s desire to grow more in seeing the value of others as I seek for balance in my own value before Him.¬† It was refreshing to recognize this and it was a gift. I am thankful to be shown my own pride, even though it seemed like an air of helpful service.¬† Really, my thoughts were rooted in pride.¬†

I am thankful for the opportunity to have pride shoved aside in favor of seeing much greater value and purpose in this woman – through the sharing of her story.

I am thankful for being reminded that her story, and my story, is valued and is important.

We are all works in progress and we all have victories and challenges.  We each have our own story and it is our story to own.

Each story has great value. The process of redemption in each story is extremely valuable. It is the work of a mighty and loving God who desires to deliver and to restore.

When we compare our stories we miss out on part of God’s story.

The work God does in and through each of His children is of utterly great value. May we see our stories though the lenses of our redeemer.

Some stories of redemption are complete and we can rejoice in a known ending. Some are still in process and we look forward, with hope, to see a victorious ending.  In some stories, we will not see the end and they will require trust in a great and good God to know that the end is in His sight.

In all these works, let us keep our eyes fixed on the weaver of our stories.

Let us look forward to His redemptive work. 

Let us be comforted that each of our stories are important because they are important to Him and because they reflect the work that He is doing.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
-Psalm 139:1-5;16
We can compare ourselves with anything. 'It's a gift. We don't even have to think about it. We just do it.' {Carrie Stephens} Click to Tweet
When we compare our stories we miss out on part of God's story. Click to Tweet
This post is one of several written in the early years of healing post serving as foster parents. They include broken thinking and a fight to survive as well as a desperate clinging to the hope only God can give. Published in 2013

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