I recognized something in your eyes yesterday as you watched the other girls decorate their lockers. Over the summer we had fun finding girly stuff for your locker – a mirror, dry-erase board, pencil cups, and picture frame magnets. And of course, a miniature chandelier.
But we didn’t purchase wallpaper or carpet. And I studied you as you watched the girls and moms cutting and fitting their wallpaper. We didn’t have anything to measure. You stuck the mirror on this side, the dry-erase board on that side, the cups underneath. Done.
“They have wallpaper,” you said. It wasn’t a whine – just an observation. And part of me wanted to drive you straight to Target for wallpaper. But, as you know, I didn’t offer.
Another, perhaps wiser, part of me wants you to understand as you begin middle school that other kids will have other things.
Pretty, expensive, and desirable things. Relatively speaking, you have an abundance of those things yourself. But I understand that middle school students look around to see who has what.
Adults do it too. I do. That’s why I saw myself in your eyes.
And because I’ve compared myself to other people and their other things since middle school, my soul has learned this to be true: “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt).
Comparison steals our joy. If President Theodore Roosevelt, one of most powerful and legendary men of his time, made such an observation, this must mean that people in all positions and stages of life struggle with comparison. It’s an equal-opportunity thief.
Even if you have everything in the world, comparison will convince you that what you have isn’t enough. It’s literally the oldest lie on earth.
As you begin middle school, sure – I want you to have nice things. But most of all, I want you to have a perspective that’s grounded in the truth.
Truth strips away all the layers of what we have or don’t have and it tells us who we are.
My girl, you are your own beautiful; you are valued beyond price. Of course Daddy and I think so, but you know what’s even better?
God says so.
As God handpicked your gifts, interests, and personality, He set your life into motion in this place for this time. God will bring family, friends, classmates, and neighbors into your path for you to influence as no one else can.
There will be things that you do well and things that you can’t do so well. Some skills will come naturally to you but others will require extra practice or effort. These years of middle school are all about discovering these things.
As you and your classmates are making these discoveries, you’ll look at them, and they’ll look at you. People say it’s part of finding your place in this world.
But you know what? As we follow Jesus Christ, we come to realize that our place is not really in THIS world.
God has created us for eternity, sweetheart. He has made us to enjoy and worship Him. Jesus told His disciples that they could gain the whole world (meaning fame, power, riches) but all these things count as nothing apart from a relationship with Him.
My prayer for you, honey, is that you’ll understand that your satisfaction in things and your status among people are temporary but your soul is eternal.
The world gives and takes away but your worth in Christ remains forever.
Because Jesus is in your heart, you can have true joy, even if (when) you find yourself in a less-than popular, pretty, or powerful place in life.
It’s important for you to know that joy and happiness are not the same. True joy doesn’t depend on what you possess or what you can do or whether you’re chosen by a friend, coach, club, or boy. There will be times when you won’t be happy.
But you can have joy knowing that, no matter what, Jesus loves you and chooses you and keeps you. There is no thing, no person, no pain, no mistake, no rejection, and no failure that can steal Jesus’ joy from you.
But comparison – that age-old thief – can rob you of a joyful perspective.
When we measure ourselves against other people and their other things, we shift our focus from what matters most. But choosing an eternal perspective redirects our hearts to gratitude for our God-given treasures that will never fade or perish.
Wallpaper doesn’t matter. Your measureless worth in Christ matters.
We are really rich, you know? In Jesus. Joy. Love. Family. Laughter.
By the way, my heart did a little cheer when you noticed the locker carpet and you said, “Why do I need a rug in my locker? My books don’t need sleep!”
That, sweetheart, is perspective!
I’m proud of you. I love you. ~ Mom
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