God gave me a lesson on COMPARISON last night.
I was volunteering at the healing prayer night - this is my Monday night gig, now - and while I felt God's presence, I started to feel frustrated with myself. In the back of my mind I was remembering a handful of people I know and some things in books I've read recently, just personal experiences of getting a "download" from the person you're praying for. Some people are just super gifted in a spiritual "knowing" of what's happening in someone's life, what they need prayer for, what God sees in them and how he wants to minister to them. I? Am not one of these people. And last night I was feeling like there was something wrong with me because I SHOULD be one of these people.
Maybe I felt that way because sometimes I DO receive knowledge about someone. Not often, and not like the woman I know who goes grocery shopping and knows the guy buying tomatoes is going through a divorce and the woman stocking up on Nutella had an abusive childhood (or is me, I love Nutella.) But sometimes when I'm praying for someone I don't know, God will give me pictures or words or I'll have a sense of something in that person's life. I love it when this happens! And it did NOT happen last night.
So I started to feel discouraged, frustrated with myself, feeling like I was doing something wrong. I was not close enough to God, maybe. I hadn't prepared myself for ministering. And instead of continuing to just pray over the person I was ministering to, my thoughts were on my own self and what was wrong with me.
It was funny, because as I was struggling with how to combat those feelings and what to do with them, the leaders at the podium were praying against feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. HAR HAR
Suddenly I realized that I could just... stop. I could CHOOSE not to dwell on the ways I was not measuring up. I could CHOOSE to trust God when he says I belong, I am chosen, I am called, that he is giving me a mantle of authority (someone prayed this over me AGAIN last week! gak). I could CHOOSE to ignore the voice of the Deceiver saying I am not good enough, I am not skilled or wise or holy enough. And the craziest part for me was that in choosing to believe what God says about me, I am not necessarily AGREEING with him, but I am TRUSTING him that it is so. So it becomes a choice to trust God or to mull it over with the enemy. Is that even a choice?!
It's nothing I haven't heard or thought about before. But last night it became this very stark CHOICE. If it's true that God has called me and brought me and said these things about me - and he continues to confirm and affirm those things so often I can't deny them - then it can't be true that I am not good enough. Even if that's how I feel, even if that's how I see myself, even if I feel like the person I'm praying for is getting the short end of the stick because they have ME praying instead of someone else, what's true is that God put me here. Do I trust God or obsess about my flaws?
For the first time last night I was asked to help give blessings at the end. You're paired up with another prayer servant and people line up to receive a special prayer from us. THANK GOD they paired me up with Barbara, who is AMAAAAAAAAZING. This sort of prayer ministry freaks me out, because I'm not terribly eloquent, I feel my prayer rather than say it, I wouldn't say I have the gift of encouragement... all good things to be when you are praying for a stranger out loud! But Barbara has all these things and more. In fact, she is the epitome of Crazy Powerful Prayer Lady I hope to be when I'm her age. I knew that I wouldn't have to pull ANY weight if I prayed with Barbara.
Barbara did her thing, but it turns out that I also did MY thing, which is share a picture God has given me in prayer - I actually DID hear from God about these people! Not in Barbara's amazing way, but in my tentative, word-stumbling, not always clear way. I felt good about myself, I felt like I'd shared my own gift. Afterwards I told Barbara how much I loved praying with her and I hoped I'd be as eloquent as her one day.
And she gripped my face (she is a TINY white-haired lady) and said, "SWEETIE." And then went on to tell me about why we shouldn't compare ourselves to others and does God make mistakes? no, and we all have our own gifts and all gifts are for the good of the body and are apples and oranges the same? no, and does ANYONE EVER ask for ORANGE PIE?
I couldn't quite follow all of it. But I knew what she was saying. And I will never forget that oranges make fantastic brunchtime cocktails and apples make tremendous pie.