Can encouragement cause despair?
There are a lot of things God has put in my life for encouragement. I have struggled with depression and know the importance of seeking out encouragement. I have two very dear sisters-in-law that are my closest friends. I have a wonderful tight-knit relationship with my mother and an intimate group of close girlfriends who encourage, motivate, and inspire me.
And of course, I have the blog world. A source for a lot of encouragement and inspiration.
I have been a lurker. I’ve never been a commenter or a linker. Mostly because I am just figuring all that out, but I have always written.
I filled journals for years spilling my thoughts and emotions onto the pages but I have never invited anyone to enter in to my musings. Truth be told, it’s terrifying.
And yet, here I am typing away. Motivated to take a chance and write even if no one but my mother ever reads this. Thanks mom,( my biggest fan).
I started reading blogs after stumbling upon Anne Voskamp’s . Her writing was inspiring and seemed to capture some of the struggles that were warring inside me. Her call to begin to live a life of gratitude began a work in me that God is continuing. My women’s group read One Thousand Gifts and committed to hold each other accountable to fill our lives with thanksgiving.
That is when inspiration is at it’s finest as God intended. Here is when it is not.
We can fall into the trap of comparing.
I know that in middle school we all wanted to be Beth Ann. She was pert and blonde and looked startling like a small beauty queen . We all secretly wanted to be just like her. We would all try to emulate her style with acid washed Guess jeans rolled at the ankle and stuffed into slouchy socks, white keds, and her lovely feathered bangs hairsprayed into an impressive wall that looked like the cresting wave of a blonde ocean.
It all sounds so silly and juvenile now but many of us have not grown out of this, we’ve just changed who we are comparing ourselves to.
Instead, we are comparing ourselves to the mom who looks like she stepped out of a J Crew Catalogue while toting her 3 adorable children who all have brushed hair, good manners, and can eat spaghetti without any stains anywhere. The one whose children have memorized most of the Bible in their free time. That mom who bakes everything from scratch, grows everything organically in her garden, and whose kids favorite snack in the world is spinach. The mom with the beautiful house, or the one who always seems to have it all together. The mom that blogs and always seems to have beautiful photography, organized pantries, endless creativity and patience, and thought-provoking posts with tons of views and comments .
The one who is so much more than you could ever be.
Comparison steals our joy.
It tells us that we are less than and it motivates us to strive for something that robs us of our peace.
Sometimes our best sources of encouragement can cause despair.
Why? Because the very same things that encourage, motivate and inspire us can condemn us if we are viewing them as the only ideal.
When we stop looking at what God has called and equipped us for and only see others talents and gifts, we lose sight of our place in this body. We lose our function and our gratefulness. We begin to doubt that God made us right. We are so lacking. If only we were more.
But this is a great place to find yourself.
For in our weakness, in our lack, in our decrease, he is increased, sufficient, good enough. Would we all pray that we are found lacking. And when we are, as we so often seem to be, we will not look to J.Crew mom but to the God who perfectly crafted us for His imminent glory.