Success from the outside looking in often looks like a suddenly. If you're into comparison, and most of us are, it's easy to begin to judge your life and successes (or lack thereof) by what you see happening in someone else's life.
I have a confession to make. Since joining the Aroma Freedom Technique 13 months ago, becoming a certified practitioner and instructor has put me in contact with way more Young Living people than I was ever connected to before. I am now Facebook friends with 200 more people than I was friends with last year, and I would say a good 75-80% of those are YL peeps.
I love my YL peeps. I love the community, the open-hearted sharing, the generosity of the company and its impeccably high standards. I don't always love the ideas that flood my feed with how others are sharing YL. And it's not because they aren't amazing and creative and super helpful. They are all of those things and then some. No…it has to do with me and my instant default mode of comparison and overwhelm.
You see, I'm not very far along in my business building compared to all of the rest of the folks out there…at least that's what the comparison lens tells me.
I compare my posts to theirs, my business ideas to theirs, my advancement to theirs, and you know what? I fail every single time in those comparisons. I'm not doing enough, not outgoing enough, not structured enough, not organized enough, not energized enough, and maybe not committed enough. Whatever the case may be, I'm certainly not successful enough.
The thing is, and this is super easy to do in Facebook land, I'm making a comparison looking from the outside in. Frankly, the only thing this does for me is create a sense of failure, overwhelm and hopelessness.
Comparison, when it comes to people, is a thief of joy and contentment. Always. It measures a snapshot of someone's life against the snapshot of my own or someone else's without seeing the "30 years in the making," the back story to people's lives.
I once heard a pastor tell a story that has stuck with me and helped me when I find myself in comparison-mode. He's a runner and considers himself to be quite good. Driving home one day, he sees a jogger running down the sidewalk and begins to critique the form, the speed, the details of this jogger, feeling pretty good about himself and his own superior form. Then He felt the Lord stop him and drop this into his spirit: "What are you doing? You…you were born with an ability to run…on a scale of 1-10, you started at about a 6. On a good day, you run at about a level 8. That person you were just now comparing yourself to, they started at a 2 and are now running at a 6. Who is the better runner?"
When we measure our success against someone else, we are picking a small part of their story that doesn't take into account the nuances of life that have brought them to the place they are now. I know there's an element to Facebook and social media where we are representing ourselves a certain way, but it's a great litmus test for how I'm doing in my heart.
If I sink in failure or soar on success based on what I'm seeing someone else do or not do, I've got to switch my gaze. I've got to look up and look to the One who knows my name, who remembers that I am dust, who created my inmost being, Whose plans and purposes do not fail.
I'm a huge Narnia fan, have read the books through multiple times. Perhaps my favorite scene of all time is in the Horse and His Boy. The boy is walking with Aslan, asking him why something happened to his friend. Here is Aslan's reply:
“Child,' said the Lion, 'I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
I share all of this because it has been my battle for a lot of years, that gripping fear or puffing up of pride in my heart when I compare my story to someone else's, and I'm ready to be done with it. I'm ready to whole-heartedly enter into the celebration of success with someone or come along side in compassion and understanding in the fear of failing.
At church yesterday, there was a call for those who wanted to encounter Jesus to come forward for prayer. I felt a tug in my heart to go forward, but I talked myself out of it. I've experienced Jesus. I've encountered Him many times. I follow Him. But deep down, I was really hungry for a fresh touch. Here's the thing, I was also not going forward because I am a leader, someone who "should" have it all together and have already encountered Jesus. Here's the other thing, no one in that church even knows me except three of my kids who came with me, so why did I care? I don't know.
Then a gentleman walked forward who I had seen when we came in. He was standing in the aisle with a security badge, so I knew he was a leader. That's all I needed…to see his humility to go forward for a fresh touch from the Lord. I popped out of my seat and stepped up to the stage and felt wave after wave of grief come up from a deep place of woundedness and sadness. Hands behind me touched my back and shoulders and I could hear prayers being offered up on my behalf. Shame crouched at my door as thoughts came in…"they're going to think you don't know Jesus since you came up for this 'altar call.'" But I just pressed in. I didn't want the persona I think I need to portray to get in the way of the person that wanted to meet with Jesus.
This voice in my head of comparison has been there a long time. It's familiar and comfortable, if you can call gripping fear and bloating pride comfortable. But it's not been a good protector of me or my family. It is not serving me well, not serving my family well, not serving the community I'm in well. It's stealing and thieving days need to come to an end. I need to let it go, to cut it loose, to give that job over to Jesus and get a new thought. I need to just be me.
I had no idea when I sat down to write my nightly blog post that all of this was going to come out, but since I'm staying my course of writing daily and letting what flows be what posts, I'm going to let this long, somewhat messy post be published for you, my fellow travelers.
By putting this scary struggle out here in the open, it no longer has the same power to cast a shadow over my soul. It can no longer get between me and the light of God's truth.
Each day as I've said my affirmation, I've had varying degrees of "success" with it feeling fully true. I've mentioned before that I've known there are adjustments to be made. I'm not always clear on what they are, so I keep moving in the direction I'm going until I get clarity on what needs tweaking.
So in the spirit of appropriate disclosure, I'm going to walk myself through the AFT process for you in this very long post because someone needs to go on this journey with me and doesn't yet know it or has been looking for the path and has now found it.
Right now my sense is to set an intention that goes something like this:
I am safe and secure in my identity, even when others around me are advancing quickly.
I'm stating it like this because I get thrown out of that sense of safety and security when I'm in a company of people setting amazing goals and crushing them.
As I rate that statement, I feel like I am at a 4. My negative voice says, "you'll get left behind. you'll lose your place. you'll be forgotten and you will fail." I feel scared in my throat and chest. The intensity is pretty high. As I allow myself to drift back to an earlier time, a moment in my grade school years comes up when I was feeling anxiety over being last to finish my seatwork. I had requested that my friends wait to finish with me, but they want to get ahead.
I don't have my AFT oils up here with me so I'm grabbing what I have which happens to be lavender and patchouli, an interesting combination but I'm going with it and trusting the process. I breathe in deeply, targeting the memory with my breath, focusing in on the feeling in my chest and throat and now an awareness of a pain in my shoulders comes up. The left side pain subsides, but the feeling in my throat and chest remains and the pain in my shoulders has moved to my right shoulder blade and middle back. It's fascinating to feel the pain literally move even as I'm typing. It's just a distraction technique I know…trying to get me to stop focusing on the emotional pain. But I am not deterred. I'm going in for round 2.
This round I'm at a 2. The negative voice says "no you're not. it's all up to you to keep up, and you'll never be enough." Huh. There's that "not enough" theme again…overwhelm and panic move into my chest and throat. This time in my memory I am in 3rd grade with a mountain of homework. All I want to do is rest and have fun, but I need to keep up or I might have to go back a grade and I don't want to fail. I like learning but it's not fun anymore. I'm going to put a drop of Divine Release in my palm and see how that goes.
Because I gave my brain a break on this round, I didn't keep track of all that flowed, but I do definitely feel lighter in my chest and back. I renounced a couple of lies [you're getting behind. It's all up to you] and asked Jesus what was true. "You're right in synch with Me," He said. "We are right on track for an overnight success, 46 years in the making." I don't know why that makes me smile, but it does. I'm still feeling some tightness in my throat, so I continue to breathe in.
Six is my number this round, and the negative voice says: you'll be replaced. you won't get to do what you love. someone else will take your place. I feel sadness in my jaw and throat. I am taken back to a time when I felt that same way when I was about 5 or 6, and my younger sister was getting more care and attention. Interesting what memories come up…
I take Inner Harmony and begin to breathe it in. The feeling in my throat moves down until it feels like something is squeezing my chest. I continue to breathe through and hand things over to God as they come to mind. I see a metal band encircling my chest and then Holy Spirit comes and dissolves it. I'm free to breathe and be me. I hear: "Your peaceful slow pace sustains you and many others for the long haul. Don't be in a hurry. You are seen. You are heard. You have a voice."
A voice. Seen. Heard. And belonging…a sense of belonging right here…right now.
I'm up to a seven now as well as up way past my bedtime, lol. While I'm still not at a 10, I'm going to take what I got and move on into the affirmation stage for this clearing.
"I listen to my voice and rejoice in my place," are the words that spring to my mind. They resonate. So I take Joy oil and stand to anchor it in. My body sways and I've learned from my friend Kathryn to let it go and follow the movement without judgement. It's doing something important. I say my statement and breathe in several times, when suddenly this Scripture drops into my spirit: "Godliness with contentment is great gain." My chest is more spacious, my jaw more expansive, my throat more open. With this verse comes a reassurance and confirmation that my "job" in this adventure is to be, to rest, and to trust. He has the rest.
If this post has helped you, would you please take time to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org? It would be such a blessing. I can sense these posts taking on a life of their own as I cross the half-way point in the 30-Day Miracle challenge and knowing that others are being helped along the way is of great encouragement to my heart.