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Seated with Christ

A group of Grace Women gathered last Fall in Cara Chute’s home on Tuesday evenings to discuss “Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison”. Barbara Gemar shares her tender and insightful thoughts about what she learned here:

Comparison has been a constant reflex of mine since I was young. From folding my handkerchief on my Bible just like the other girls in my junior-high Sunday School to reading books about parenting and constantly trying to measure up, I have worn myself out with the comparison game! When I was perusing the options in women’s ministry with Grace Fellowship Church last Fall, I came across the book Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison by Heather Holleman. That word “comparison” was immediately attractive to me. I needed God’s Word to change this about me.

It did not matter who would be in the group, I needed the message for myself. The book, Scriptures and discussion were life giving. I read and underlined and talked about the content. I started to feel the shackles of bondage shaking off inside my soul. With the freedom to not compare also came the freedom to not perform. I was so thankful for these new pathways developing in my brain!

Most notable was the change during an annual writing retreat in October. For the past 7 years, I have been stealing away to a beautiful, wooded cove in North Carolina with a group of ladies. There we work on our manuscripts that are in process and difficult to complete amidst our busy lives at home. During retreats of the past I was unable to be productive due to the distraction of comparing myself with my friends. I tried to be sure that I did not eat any more chocolate than anyone else. I checked to see who was writing all afternoon without a break. I felt inferior to the friends who were getting published more quickly than I. However, this year was different. My heart was strangely content. I felt unusually free. If I was tired due to my chronic illnesses, I took a nap. If I needed to take my work out to the swing among the bees and flowers, I did so. When we left from that retreat I was amazed to see that I had accomplished more writing than usual! Not only that, under the direction of my physician, I managed to eliminate one medication for anxiety and decrease the dosage of another one by half… during my most difficult time of the year! Only God can heal our hearts and minds with His Word in this way.

This comparison thing is clearly one of Satan’s tactics to keep us distracted and unable to focus. It is an effective way for him to squelch “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. (Ephesians 2:10) These truths were so powerful that I chose to join GFC volunteers (with the girls between 7th – 12th grades) to study the book again. If we as adults need this message so much, surely our young ladies can benefit early from learning it before they develop unhealthy patterns that do not glorify our God. It is just another example of passing on in the faith what we have been taught.

Barbara Gemar

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