Friday, October 25, 2013

970 Square Feet - by @emilylaney

Photo by Daggerquill (creative commons)
 My generation is growing up.  We’re buying houses, starting families, and furthering our careers in our grown up jobs.  It’s scary and exciting at the same time.  There are so many new developments, new challenges, and wonderful changes that come along with young adulthood.  Most of our friends are experiencing these changes.  They’re having children, embarking on new adventures, and adding stability to their lives.  It’s wonderful to see, but with these exciting developments and new experiences, I’ve found a risk that seems to rear it’s ugly head on occasion:

The risk of comparison.

It’s very easy for me to fixate on where I am in life, and to compare it to where others are.  I’ll use homes as an example.  Our little apartment in Sandy Springs is 970 square feet, and most of the time I love it.  I love that there is no more room for anything - No more furniture, no more clothes, no more random decorative things I don’t need.  If I buy more clothes, I need to get rid of clothes.  If I buy new books, I need to get rid of books.  It’s a fantastic sense of equilibrium.  It’s not terribly grown up apartment either.  Unframed paintings from Haiti and the Dominican Republic adorn our ‘dining room’.  The cheap apartment carpet is horribly stained (we have a dog, and there’s nothing I can do about it).  We have a three-foot wooden camel and a six-foot wooden giraffe. There is also a three-foot giraffe in the bedroom.  Their names are Bill, Kajo, and Keji.  Empty beverage bottles, knick-knacks,  and collector Starbucks mugs haphazardly add dimension above our 1980′s era kitchen cabinets, and my linen closet is a 20-dollar shelf from Target.  I’m not a terribly fancy person with fabulous taste, so I’ll probably always have my wooden animals and paintings that I bought off the side of the road in developing countries.

Even though I love our apartment and where we are, in my seasons of doubt I have found myself wondering what others think about our small simple space.  I have sneaked into comparison-land, thinking that maybe I’m not as ‘good’ as others.  We have friends who have big beautiful houses with gorgeous decor and updated features.  About 99% of the time I feel no iota of insecurity or comparison, but every once in awhile, I allow myself to slip into that pattern.  Am I good enough?  What do people think?  Should I do things differently to get approval?

Ultimately life is about embracing who you are and who God made you to be.  It’s okay if it doesn’t include cherry cabinets and immaculately decorated homes; it’s okay if it DOES include that.  Maybe your ‘thing’ isn’t a house.  Maybe it’s relationship status.  Maybe it’s where you are vocationally.  Ultimately, we have to stop comparing ourselves to others.  

You are where you are for a reason.  Whether you are 22 and buying your first house or 45 and living in a one bedroom apartment, we all need to embrace where we are.  Whether your career is going perfectly and you’re climbing the ladder to your dream job, or if you’ve just been laid off and have no idea what’s next, trust that God is leading you and that HE is your identity.

Comparison causes us to be envious and to take our eyes off of what God has for us, and where we are going next.  It’s a great way to completely derail yourself from the amazing path you’re on.  I’m choosing to be content in my 970 square feet, embracing where we are, striving to be a good neighbor, and practicing Biblical hospitality the best I can.  By focusing on the here and now, I can leverage the amazing place God has me for HIS glory.

What do you focus on?  
How have you compared yourself to others?  
What do you do when self doubt and seeds of envy sneak in?

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God, or am I trying to 
please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."  
Galatians 1:10

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator and justice seeker. She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals. She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia.  She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy. 

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog

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