About six months ago, I was at Barnes and Noble looking through the Christian book section. I have a tendency to buy books, read the first couple of chapters, put a bookmark in, and forget about the book completely. The last five years of my life were devoted to attaining my bachelor’s degree and teaching credential, which is what I’ve credited this lack of finishing any books to. The beginning of 2017 marked the beginning of my life post-college for real. So I picked up this book – Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. I read the back of the book and flipped through the pages, it seemed like it would be such a great read – but I almost didn’t buy it. I was particularly hesitant about this book because of it’s title (such a silly reason, I know). I didn’t want to buy a book called “Uninvited” because then the cashier would probably think that I was sad and lonely. And that would just be so embarrassing. For some reason, though, I couldn’t put the book down.
I put on my biggest smile, made sure John walked up to the counter with me, and bought this book with confidence so that the cashier would know I was content (and totally get invited to stuff) – I just wanted to read this interesting book. Let’s be real, the cashier could not care less. This was all about me and how I wanted to appear super cool.
I’ve been slowly reading this book in my spare time since I purchased it and every chapter has been a blessing to my heart. I love Lysa’s style of writing – it’s clear, humorous, and filled with truth. I am all about a book that convicts me while making me giggle and this book does just that. This week I got to chapter 10, which is called “Her Success Does Not Threaten Mine”. And let me just tell you, this is a necessary chapter for us all. I thought of this calligraphy and lettering community when I got to this chapter because of the temptation to compare your handwriting, your creativity, your business ventures, and your successes with others. It’s such an ugly, pointless, and sometimes regular thing that we have a tendency to do.
I know that not all of you who follow this blog may have a relationship with Christ or know who he is, but I think that we would all benefit from this reminder and this truth. If we believe that the success of another woman, another calligrapher, another person threatens our own, we are missing out on some of the greatest joys in life. It can be so hard to step back from your own hard work and business ideas to see that someone else’s success really does not take away from our own.
Lysa uses this chapter to talk about her struggles in publishing her first book, feeling as though the women around her were experiencing so much success, and she only faced rejection letters. What she said resonated with me,
“In my better moments, I did the right thing and authentically celebrated with them. But then there were other moments. Hard moments. Moments where I felt my friends’ lives were rushing past me in a flurry of met goals, new opportunities, and affirmations of their callings from God. It seemed the world was literally passing me by” (pg. 118).
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve felt exactly what she is describing for various things. I’ve felt this for others around me getting married, having babies, finishing up their degree early, getting hired for jobs, or simply for some random achievement I didn’t even think I would have wanted to accomplish (and I most likely don’t actually want to accomplish). We find ourselves in this never-ending comparison game to be more successful, more happy, and more aesthetically pleasing on our Instagram page than others. We want people to know that we are content, loved, and totally invited to things (like me with that cashier).
She talks about the difference between having a scarcity mentality vs. an abundance mentality. This is where you really need to read the chapter for yourself. The thing she said that stood out to me the most was her mention of Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
The plants weren’t limited. The animals weren’t limited. People weren’t limited. Inside each were seeds for more. This fruitful ability clearly speaks of God’s goodness and abundance. (pg. 122)
From the beginning, we were created by God who gave in abundance and does not withhold His Goodness from us.
If I look at my dreams, desires, and hopes for the future as coming from a place of scarcity and the world’s limited supply, it will constantly feed the notion that someone else’s success is a threat to mine. In other words, this person getting opportunities means less opportunity for me. (pg. 123)
And yet, we are all created uniquely by God with different gifts and talents. Some of which may not be calligraphy, painting, running, writing, or speaking in public. That is the beauty of God’s creativity in creating each of us- he did so uniquely and with a purpose. Whatever it is that you do, do it for the glory of God rather than in competition with another. I’ll end with one of my favorite things that Lysa says in this chapter,
So even as the closed doors and rejections seem more prevalent than the new opportunities you’d like to see, even as you’re seeking to readjust your thinking, remember that there is an abundant need in this world for your contributions to the kingdom…your thoughts and words and artistic expressions…your exact brand of beautiful.
So, I challenge you to a life knowing the abundance of opportunities set upon the path before you. I pray that you look beyond whatever difficulty, rejection, or uncertainty you face. Press on and continue to work hard and cheerfully in all that you do. Ask the Lord to reveal what it is that he’s created you to do (if you don’t already know). Ask the Lord to reveal the next steps that you should take, however small they may be. Know that you were created with unique, important talents that will be used to impact the world in whatever way. Don’t look to the right or to the left in an effort to see how well you are doing in comparison with others. Don’t allow the strongholds to keep you in a place of bitterness, loneliness, or jealousy.
Unfollow the people who make you feel less than. Pray to have a better attitude toward those who have the successes or opportunities that you dream of. Pray for the Lord to reveal his purpose for your life. Lean in close with Jesus and with trustworthy friends who will push you further toward His goodness.
Don’t be afraid to buy a book because you think it will make you look lonely. Be a real, authentic person. Work alongside the Lord in your heart so that you can genuinely feel joy for the happiness and successes of those around you. I would love to hear from you in whatever it is that may be weighing you down or if you’ve felt the same way that I have. Be sure to COMMENT below with stories from your own journey. Creativity is a blessing and a gift, but it comes with many doubts and insecurities. Remember that your creative expressions are necessary and meant to be shared. Keep sharing, keep working, and keep seeking Jesus.