Battle Strategy Three: Give Thanks

A few weeks ago I was watching a series of Instagram Stories, and it seemed like every single story triggered a little jolt of jealousy in me: one after another, after another, after another. There truly are endless opportunities for jealousy to show itself day in and day out, and the more I ruminate on what I wish for, I forget all that I have already been blessed with. And I know I’m not alone.

I’ve heard countless women say, “The hardest part of jealousy is not appreciating what you have.”

When we are thankful, we worship God for all the ways He has blessed us. When we are jealous, we resent God for how He is “holding out” on us.

I know it’s hard to come to terms with this ugly truth inside our hearts, but I love you so I’m keeping it real here: You weren’t meant for entitlement; You were meant for worship.

I truly believe that jealousy can be countered by thankfulness. To fight this battle against The Knot, we need to change our wishing to thanksgiving.

This concept is a lot easier said than done though. Why is it so difficult for us to be thankful?

I believe we struggle to be thankful because jealousy stems from an internal sense of entitlement. We cannot experience true thankfulness while still possessing an entitled heart.

Underneath a quiet, “I wish my life looked as exciting as her” lingers I deserve adventure and fun.

 Behind a “why can’t I look like that?” hides I deserve to look a certain way, and I deserve to have others admire me.

 Within “Why does she get this role?” is I deserve that because of my qualifications, talents, or seniority.

We convince ourselves that God owes us. He owes us a happy life, a spouse, children, a fulfilling career, healthy bank account…the list goes on and on.

We lose sight of WHO God is, and instead care more about WHAT he can give. Yet the irony of it all is that once we receive what we have asked for, we no longer view it as a gift. Rather, we believe we’ve deserved it all along.

Paul writes to the people of Corinth, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

In other words, everything you have is a gift from God, yet you brag as if you earned it yourself.

We need a heart adjustment if we are going to win this fight.

Do you remember when you first started driving your current vehicle? The moment you climbed into that Toyota Camry, you could not stop seeing the same car all over the roads. Before you acknowledged the Camry, you had no idea how many were driving the streets. Your initial awareness developed a sensitivity to that car.

In the same way, when we begin to make ourselves aware of the good gifts and ways that God has blessed us, we develop a sensitivity to His goodness- noticing more and more to be thankful for.

Developing this awareness can be done in practical ways such as

  • A Thankfulness Journal: Write down something you are thankful for everyday.
  • An Acknowledgement Jar: Add a few things you accomplished everyday. You can read more about my experience with the Acknowledgement Jar on author Kathi Lipp’s blog here.
  • Giving Thanks in Prayer: Literally thanking God for everything you have.
  • Sharing Thanks: Telling your spouse or roommate what the two of you are grateful for every day.

The key is to be consistent and specific, making this an every day habit and being descriptive about what you are thankful for and why.

When you realize every little thing you have is a gift, your sense of entitlement will slowly dissipate. And this is where the real power is found. The script in your mind will completely alter in times when you could feel jealousy.

“I wish I could be as smart as her” is distracted by “What an incredible gift it is that I have the opportunity to attend this school and further my education, learning and growing and being challenged. Thanks God!”

“My kitchen never looks as tidy as hers” changes to “I am so thankful to be able to buy the good and healthy foods that I love. It’s amazing that I can cook something great for my family. Dirty dishes mean full bellies and family time around the table. Thanks Lord!”

“If only I looked as perfectly put together as her” becomes “This season of life is crazy busy. But I am so blessed to have errands to run and work to be done. Thank you for my job, even though I don’t appreciate it often. Thank you God.”

Maybe you are in a season of life where it is really difficult to find something to be thankful for. I get that. Life is hard. But being thankful is choosing to look for the good in a mess and finding a gift in the chaos. It’s okay to ask God to show you something to be thankful for. Just don’t give up!

As we put this into practice, I’m confident we will notice a change in the focus of our hearts. Jealousy focuses on what we lack, while thankfulness focuses on God’s goodness. And God is so good that His goodness can distract us from our jealousy, if only we give it a chance.

What are three things that you are grateful for today? Take a few minutes and thank God for them now.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

thankfulness-quote

Caitlin Tyner Photography

Homecoming Dresses, Insecurity, and a Post-Valentine’s Day Promise

Some say comparison is the thief of joy. I’d like to add that comparison is the thief of security.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

(Sorry to bring it up again. I’m sure you’re just ready to move on.)

My husband and I have had 5 of these holidays together now, and I’ll be honest: we’re just not that into it. We aren’t huge gift-givers and we don’t observe this holiday to the extent that a lot of other people do. We may use Valentines Day as an excuse to eat out for dinner, but that’s usually the extent of it.

Because I know this is just the way we are, I feel secure in the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day. At least…I do until I start to compare my experience to that of others. I see extravagant gifts, roses, chocolate, fancy date nights, cute couple photos…and I begin to ask myself if we’re doing something wrong.

Maybe you experienced this yesterday too.

You were happily single, until you couldn’t scroll fast enough to get past the cute date nights and flowers. You were fine with chilling alone in bed with a bag of popcorn and One Tree Hill, until you received a snap of the Galentine’s Party happening next door. You were content with a low-key date night, until you heard about your girlfriend’s extravagant scavenger hunt, leading up to candles and diamonds and pearls.

I remember experiencing this with homecoming dress shopping too. Five years ago when I bought my high school homecoming dress, I absolutely loved it. However the moment I looked- with a lens of comparison- at some of the other girls’ gowns, I began to second-guess if my dress was all I had thought it was.

I realize these are superficial examples- valentines and formal dresses- but the principle remains the same:

Comparison hinders our ability to appreciate every lovely thing we have by stealing our security.It takes something we feel totally secure about, and taints it with doubts and disdain.

In life, when we want more security we take action to protect ourselves. We change our passwords and pins; we install firewalls and we carry pepper spray. I hate to break it you, but the security that comparison snatches away doesn’t really have that easy of a fix. There’s no special trick to feeling more secure. Rather, we need to look at where we are finding our security in the first place.

If I find my security in who I am and what I do, I will continue to struggle with insecurity for the rest of my life. But when I find my security in the One who created me, I will find peace and confidence, not because of who I am, but because of who He is.

So with that security shift in mind, I want to tell you 3 Truths about yourself on this February 15th:

You are loved. Not because you’ve earned it. Not because your boyfriend says so. Not because your friends say so, but because your God says you are loved. The opinion of man will wax and wane, but the Word of the Lord will stand forever. His Word is your security.

You are valuable. Not because you are smart. Not because of your success. Not because of the price tag on your engagement ring, but because your perfect God said you were worth dying for. And when He died, He said, “it is finished.” There’s nothing else you can do, because He did it all. His death is your security.

You are cherished. Not because you’re beautiful. Not because you’re funny. Not because you would make a good wife. Not because you say all the right things. But because your God knit you together in your mother’s womb. He dreamed of you before you were born. He created you uniquely with a purpose. And when He saw that you were dying, He breathed new life into you. His sovereign hand is your security.  

Valentine’s Day and Homecoming Courts- they come and they go. Next week you may forget how you felt on “Single Awareness Day.” For some of you, it’s a sting that you’re convinced will last a lifetime. But I want you to know that you don’t have to measure your worth by this day, and you don’t have to settle for an unstable security.

You can find lasting security in a God who never changes, never fails, and never leaves. I can’t say you won’t still compare and you won’t still have doubts on this side of heaven. But you’ll have hope and peace that surpass all you could receive from any other man-made security. I can promise you that.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

Battle Strategy Two: Pray For Her

“[She] is doing everything that I am trying to do. Except better and faster and more effectively. And I know that what she is doing is good. But I can’t help but hate it, because I feel like that was meant for me. That was my plan and it’s just not fair… I really want to love her, but I just don’t like her. I feel like she is my competition and I am losing.”

I scribbled this down in a notebook last year, defeated by a battle I didn’t sign up for. I didn’t ask to compete. I didn’t sign up to wrestle with The Knot  of jealousy, comparison, and shame.

I feel like she is my competition and I am losing.

Comparison takes sisterhood and turns it into competition. And in competition, if they aren’t for you, they’re against you.

But I want you to know that girl is NOT the enemy. No matter how physically tangible your struggle is, your battle is not with mankind. Paul writes in Ephesians, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood” rather, the battle is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12).

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the enemy doesn’t want us to be united, so he will do whatever he can to divide us as sisters. Jealousy and comparison work hand in hand to create hardness in our heart towards the other woman. Hesitant to be close and apprehensive to trust; your heart creates defenses, distancing itself from loving this “enemy” the way you would an ally.

We must recognize who the real enemy is. We get so busy fighting one another that we let him slide on by. Our true battle is not against one another; instead it is against the devil.

We need to bring the right kind of weapon. What would happen if we showed up to a battle with water guns, while the opposing army brought lightsabers? We’d be dead because we showed up for the wrong kind of battle.

Some of us are showing up to battle, but we don’t know whom we are fighting against and we brought the wrong weapons.

The battle of the flesh looks like competing against this girl, while the battle of the spirit looks like praying for her.

HOW DO I EVEN BEGIN TO PRAY FOR A GIRL I’M JEALOUS OF?

I get it. It’s painful to pray for someone we have an issue with. It takes humility to pray for people who we have a difficult time loving. But something powerful happens when we take the step to pray for someone like this.

Here are 5 things that will happen when you start to pray for the girl you are jealous of:

  1. You will become more aware. Next time you linger just a little too long on her Instagram photo and begin to measure your life against hers, you will catch yourself mid-comparison.
  2. You will view her as another human being. For some reason when we compare, we measure our worst-self to her best-self. As you pray for her, you’ll be reminded that she wakes up with bad breath, she has interpersonal conflict, she spills her coffee, she has doubts and insecurities, and she even poops too.(Did I take that too far?) A friend and mentor, Proverbs 31 author Amy Carroll once said to me when I asked her about her glamorous life as an author, “I fold underwear just like everybody else!” That girl who looks so perfect and flawless on social media… she poops just like everybody else!
  3. You will see her the way God see’s her.  As you spend time in His holy presence, along with his Holy Spirit, He will reveal Truth and transform your vision of the world around you. As you pray for this girl, God will give you a vision of who she is as a broken girl whom He loves to death. I don’t know about you…but I can be SO critical of the people I am jealous of. Seeing her as God does helps me to give her more grace.
  4. You will love her. I once heard a pastor say, “It’s really hard to hate someone whom you are praying for.” When we petition for a sister in prayer, God changes our hearts towards her. Praying for your sister causes you to care about her in a supernatural way that doesn’t make any sense apart from the sovereignty of God.
  5. You’ll compare less, resulting in less jealousy. I don’t want to say this as if it is some kind of magic formula. It takes a lot of work to overcome sin in our lives and change behaviors. We need to be praying for our own hearts and implementing some of the other battle strategies too; but by praying for our sisters, we will experience heart-change ourselves.

Did a specific girl come to mind while reading this? Tell someone in your army who can keep you accountable to praying for her.

Are you ready to pray but still don’t know exactly how to find the words?

Click the purple link on this page under the words JOIN, and I’ll send you a download of some sample prayers to guide you in the beginning. If you are already a part of the Detangled&Free community, you’ll be getting the download in your inbox soon!

I hope this strategy encourages you in your battle this week!

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

Battle Strategy One: Build Your Army

We’ve all had the experience of hearing an inspirational speech, yet due to a lack of practicality, our lives ultimately go unchanged.

I don’t want last week’s blog post, Showing Up For Battle to just be another one of those speeches. So over the next few weeks, I am going to share with you some practical battle strategies that you can put into place to conquer The Knot of jealousy, comparison, and shame in your life. These are real strategies that I have used in my own life, and with the Lord’s strength, they are effective.

But first… I have a story.

During college I worked behind the scenes in a boutique. My main job was to receive and ship inventory, but I also did other tasks, like naming the items, taking photos for social media, and steaming clothes for the models’ upcoming photo-shoots.

As the business grew, we needed more help, and my friend Olivia was an Apparel Merchandising major, looking for experience. The job was perfect for her! She started right away and fit in great. I was so excited to be working alongside my friend!

However, a few weeks into her new job, our bosses extended Olivia a special opportunity: they asked her to be one of their models. Although I had worked there longer than Olivia, I had never been asked to be a model.

This was extremely difficult for me. The ever-prodding Why not me? ran through my mind day in and day out. I must not be pretty enough. I must not have the right body. They must not like me as much. Maybe it’s my teeth. Eyebrows Perhaps? They probably think I’m weird.

I was stuck between being happy for this girl whom I loved dearly- and being angry with her for swooping in and stealing the show when I had given her the opportunity in the first place (We’re not even going to address my pride and sense of entitlement right now. But ew, ew, ew).

I thought my insecurities and bitterness would ease with time. They did not.

The battle in my head raged on as I worked and steamed my friend’s clothes in classic Anne Hathaway fashion (I must clarify that my coworkers and bosses were incredibly sweet, lovely women. In no way did they treat me like a second-class being. This was purely the work in my own heart and mind).

Flash-forward about six months…

I quit. I needed an internship and there were a few other factors, but truth be told one of the pushing factors for my resignation was my broken and bitter heart toward a girl whom I cared for deeply. I could not handle the way I felt about myself or the way I felt towards Olivia. The Knot of jealousy, comparison, and shame pushed me to quitting a job. I’m not kidding when I say we’ve got a powerful enemy.

SO WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET PRACTICAL, KELSEE?

Right now, girlfriend. The summer I quit my job was the summer I became passionate about fighting this jealousy. My first step? Telling someone.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Sin is like mold. When we keep it hidden away, it grows and thrives in the dark. But when we bring our secret struggle out into the light, it begins to wither away. It is important to tell others about our struggles so that we can have their prayers, encouragement, and their accountability. When you tell a sister about your struggle that means you are no longer alone. She becomes your partner, sharing the burden of sin with you, just as Jesus carried your sin to the cross.

WHO SHOULD I TELL?

Please use discretion when sharing deep struggles. You should only tell a safe sister.

  1. She loves the Lord
  2. She knows and seeks scripture for wisdom
  3. She is humble- not likely to judge you or condemn you
  4. She is honest and will speak the truth you in need and the grace you need
  5. She is trustworthy and will keep your confidence
  6. She knows you well and loves you well

Something powerful happened when I told my safe sister about this struggle. I felt the weight of shame melt away as she spoke truth and love to me. I felt empowered to have someone fighting with and for me. I realized I was not alone in the struggle, as she confessed similar thoughts toward other women.

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO OLIVIA?

I’m so happy to say that despite my bitter heart, Olivia became one of my very best friends. About a year after I quit my job I shared with Olivia all that I just shared with you. She met me with such grace and thanked me for sharing. Then we entered into a dialogue about jealousy- realizing once again that this is a common struggle amongst all women. This experience ultimately brought us closer and removed certain barriers that I had in my heart between us- totally evidence of God’s redeeming power!

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

I’m not sure where you are in your struggle with comparison or jealousy.

Maybe for the first time you need to have a long talk with God. Telling him about your weakness (which he already knows about) and asking him for his grace and strength.

Perhaps you are standing alone on the frontline, shaking, but ready for battle. I would encourage you to build your army by at least one woman. Find a safe sister to confess your struggle with and ask her to join you in the fight.

Perhaps you are ready to tell a friend about the barriers you’ve had in your heart towards her. This should be done very carefully, with lots of prayer and meditation beforehand. Check your motives before confessing. Be sure there are no manipulative intentions in your heart.

Wherever you are, you don’t have to be there alone. You were created for community and that means you were meant to have an army of sisters by your side. So go and build your army this week. I’ll meet you on the battlefield.

With Love & Freedom,

Kelsee

P.S. I would love to be praying for your specific conversations as you build your army. Let me know how I can be fighting for you in prayer Here.

P.S. Again! Want to be notified when the next Battle Strategy is released? Click the purple link to JOIN Detangled&Free.

13483106_1062955243750884_9026105182425627454_oMegan Dillman, Arclight Collective Photography

In case you were wondering, Olivia is in this picture, fighting for me as I step into marriage. The Lord is so gracious.