For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).
Have you ever met a woman and wondered, “How does she do it all?!”
I know I have. I see the mom who has the kind of house where everything has a place and kids with perfectly coiffed hair and coordinating outfits and I wonder, “What does she have that I don’t? How does she do it all?” The same goes for the homeschooling mom and the mom who recreates every DIY Pinterest idea to perfection. I make judgments: They must be super-human. They mom way better than me.
Yet there are also those who would say the same about me.
When outsiders look at me, they see what I do: full-time PR pro, ministry volunteer, grad school student, wife, mom, part-time consultant … the list goes on. They think I’m organized and accomplished. They jump from the facts to judgments: intelligent, super-human, even perfect. They want to know what I have that they don’t.
Sound familiar? Have you ever had these thoughts? Would you believe that somewhere out there, someone thinks the same thing about you?
Our perceptions and judgments are comparison clutter, and they secretly interfere with our relationships. Comparison keeps us at arm’s length. The desire is there to go deeper and know each other better, but we have to dump the clutter to get there.
Others use their perception of what I do to highlight what they think of as weakness in themselves. I get it. I see gifts in others and think of my own deficits. But Hebrews 4:13 tells us that it’s God to whom we must give account – not each other. I do what God created me to do. These gifts were made for me, not for others. Just like the gifts of organization and crafty creativity that come so easily to others missed me by a mile. Comparison clutter is sneaky. It separates us not only from each other but also from what God has designed us each uniquely to do.
This is where I hope we can remember the spirit of Ephesians 2:10. God created us individually to do good works that he already has prepared for us. We all have a sweet spot when it comes the number of hats we wear. Some of us can be working moms who invest in their marriage and in their community. Others can’t handle more than just a couple of roles before feeling over-extended. It’s by design. You were made to do what you do, just as I was made to do what I do. Neither of us gets salvation bonus points by reaching beyond God’s desires for us.
We often wear our busyness like a badge of honor, an outward sign of our importance or our sacrifice. This is like putting the welcome mat out for comparison to enter. What if we instead looked to live life within the margins our creator designed for us? What if instead of comparing ourselves to others, we celebrated the way we each use the gifts God has given us?
One Small Win
Write down all you do – all that keeps you busy – in a given week and pray over it. What on that list has God created you to do and what might be meant for someone else? Consider what can be delegated or eliminated and take the appropriate action, knowing you are fulfilling God’s design.
Maybe it is the new year, but I’ve plugged along with decluttering my cupboards. Then one day, while at a friend’s house, she asked me to grab something from under her kitchen sink. Upon opening the two doors I found literally five items (if that) inside a bare white cupboard. It was beautiful. My jaw dropped.
I immediately envisioned opening the doors underneath my own kitchen sink. Cue the shower scene music from the movie Psycho. Eek, eek, eek… I have a billion items under there. I own every cleaner under the sun and then some. My heart was deflated. I left her house feeling completely terrible about my own organizing capabilities. Wondering, what is wrong with me?
The next morning I was ramping up to work on a design project but my organizing ability was spilling over into my work and making me feel insecure. I read my daily devotional. It talked about how God uses us best when we are operating in our “sweet spot.” In fact, the devotional quoted my go-to verse.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
This verse always reminds me Christ gives me the strength I need, especially whenever I approach a challenge and in spite of all my weaknesses.
But this time when I read it, in light of the words in the devotional, it occurred to me: Christ accomplishes much when we need his strength, He can accomplish so much more when we are leaning into our strengths and operating out of our sweet spot. The place where we are supposed to operate as opposed to operating out of this place that isn’t unique to us, it isn’t where we are gifted.
I sat down to start the design project I felt to inadequate to accomplish. I ended up painting a picture inspired by flowers found on my morning walk. I must admit, I have not painted a true watercolor in years, and I was scared. What if it didn’t turn out as I envisioned? I am guilty of not even doing something if I don’t think the end result will turn out perfectly.
But this time, recognizing only Jesus is perfect, I mustered up my courage and his strength. I sat down to actually do the work I was called to do. God sparked in me my passion, my very own “sweet spot.” When I witnessed his creation through me I knew without a doubt I was doing what he called me to do.
I cried, tears of joy that resonated in my heart. “I am an artist.” I had been so defeated about not being organized and I hadn’t embraced my true calling in a really long time. I am an artist. I work great in organized chaos. I may not have a completely bare cabinet, but I am truly gifted in art. Now that I found my sweet spot, I will be brave with my God-given talents and no longer wish I was someone I am not. Someone I was never created to be.
One Small Win: Christ accomplishes much when we need his strength, He can accomplish so much more when we are leaning into our strengths and operating out of our sweet spot.
Julie Landreth has a passion for healthy and thriving relationships – especially in marriage and friendship. She is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage. She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA, through her curriculum: Consistency and Persistency: The Art of Praying for your Husband.
Having been married 12 years, she and her husband have cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love, effective communication, sustainable fun, and a date night every Friday night for the last nine years. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her nine-year-old son who shares many of her artistic talents. Follow her on Instagram: @julielandreth.
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