I am delighted to have Mary Carver join us today for this #RaRalinkup post!
Last night I messaged two friends. I asked them if I was a bad person for getting upset to see other people get attention and accolades for something I had also done (but for which I certainly wasn’t receiving that attention).
Honestly I wanted them to yell and point fingers and join me in my indignation at being left out and overlooked. Instead, they did what good friends do and reminded me that I wasn’t in this business or this life for either attention or accolades.
They also admitted that my feelings didn’t make me a bad person, simply human – but they were right about my focus. I had forgotten that my ministry and work and life are about obeying God and serving Him the best I can. Not pats on the backs and plastic trophies, not awards and atta-girls. But trust and obedience, love and service.
We can easily get distracted from our mission, can’t we? One minute we’re all about following God, no matter where He leads us, loving Him and loving others, doing whatever it takes to help people see Him. And then…bam! Before we even know what’s happening, we’ve heard about someone else’s mission – and all the perks that come with it, and we’re simmering with envy, wishing our call looked like theirs.
My friend and co-author, Sara Frankl, knew something about that. The call on her life was one that was full of beauty and joy – but it was also full of pain and loss. Trusting God and loving what He had given her was a challenge, but she managed to do it with a grace and wisdom that encourages me and teaches me every day.
I remember the first time I really understood the parable of the vineyard workers. I had heard this Bible story all my life, but it finally clicked in college.
In Matthew 20, Jesus is recorded telling the story of a man who needed help with his harvest. He hired some men for the day, telling them the day’s wage, which they accepted and began working. Throughout the day, he realized he needed more help to get the work completed, so he went out multiple times and hired more workers. Each time he offered the wage to his new workers, they accepted and set out to work.
At the end of the day, he called all the workers together and paid them the same day’s wage. It was the wage he had offered to them, the one they had all accepted. But the men who had worked all day laboring in the fields were angry. They said they were cheated because they worked harder and longer than the others, and should be paid more than those who had worked only the last few hours.
In reality, the problem wasn’t the amount they were paid for the work they did. He gave the workers what was promised to them. The problem was in the worker who only felt cheated when he compared his life to someone else’s. The problem arose when the worker took his eyes off of his own mission, the one he agreed to gladly – and decided he wanted the easier task that was promised to someone else.
I have to remind myself of this story because it’s hard for me not to feel cheated. It’s hard for me to be thankful on a holiday weekend when I have to be alone in this condo. When there is no bustle of family or friends, when I can’t enjoy a turkey dinner, when I have no one to talk with and laugh with and reminisce with and grieve with. It’s hard when I compare my isolated existence with what I know is happening everywhere else.
But that’s not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and He promised He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday. It was the wage He promised me, the wage I accepted – and it’s only when I take my eyes off of that promise that I feel cheated. God is honoring His deal. It’s me who looks at life and says, “I’ll have what she’s having, please.”
Does going back to that Bible story make all the hard-to-deal-with feelings disappear? Of course not. It’s still brutal. But it reminds me of what I believe. I believe that God has a purpose for me, and that my job is to be faithful to whatever comes with my life. I will do my daily task and honor Him as I believe He is honoring me.
I believe it. Even when it doesn’t feel good. Even when it hurts and is lonely and feels unfair and requires me to grieve a life I was never promised.
The truth is that my life is no better or worse than I wanted. It’s just completely and utterly different. The wisdom comes in knowing that it is exactly as it should be. The joy comes in learning to love it, not despite all I’ve lost, but because of all that it has brought to me.
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Excerpt, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY.
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Whew! SPEAK, Mary!! God’s timing is so great. I have a number of issues in this life;) Thankfully, jealousy hasn’t been too much of the root – until recently. I was numb jealous over a book deal that a friend received and yet, so thrilled for her all at the same time. It stunned me actually and I thought, “Ohmygosh, Meg you’re jealous!!” Haha.
You ever have those personal realizations? Anyway, God dealt with me that day in His firm, loving way. I realize that those situations are prone to pop up. I just pray that I’m quick to acknowledge my motives and that He will just as quickly set me back on the right path. Have a wonderful day and thank you for your much-needed words!!
Meg, I love that God dealt with your heart so quickly – AND that you were grateful and receptive! That’s when you know you’ve grown!
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Thank you for featuring Mary Carver and new book, Kelly.
Mary, congratulations on the publication of I Choose Joy. Thank you for your work to honor Sarah and her message. So important. I’m reading this at just the right time because just last night I had a similar twinge of discontent when I compared myself to someone else. God is honoring his end of the deal, for sure!
Yes, He always keeps His promises! Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Betsy!
Mary – thank you for your transparency here and for this much- needed reminder. Our enemy makes much use of comparison to steal our joy. I love how you put it here: “But that’s not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and He promised He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday.” Amen!
Yes, comparison is absolutely a joy-stealer! So thankful for God’s reminders of this!
Thanks for sharing a piece from the book, Kelly! I just finished my last book, so I plan to order this one today. Thank you too Mary, for your faithfulness in sharing the message God gave you. I lost my best friend two years ago – she died at 40 years of age after a long health battle, but she taught me so much about perseverance and living the life God called me to live with purpose and intention. Can’t wait to read your book:)
Kristine, thank you for your kind words. I pray the book blesses you!
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Mary, we all need two things that you have: 1. Great honest friends! 2. An open-hearted honesty about our grumbly feelings so that others can profit from our failings.
Thanks, Kelly, for bringing Mary to us here today!
Michele, you are so right! The value of honest friends and an honest heart is immeasurable!
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Thank you Mary for your wise and very human words. God does have a purpose for each of us and we said “yes” when we chose Him as our Lord and Savior. He never promised it would be easy but He made so many beautiful promises. Somewhere along the way we forget or put our focus on something else and it all becomes muddled. The story of the vineyard workers ties on so beautifully here. God does not back down on is promises. We instead turn away from our “yes” to Him because the world seems to have the greater allure.
Congrats on a book that has ;already impacted many. I have seen it quoted and referenced many times already. It is on my list of books to read.
Thank you so much for your encouragement, Mary. My prayer for this book is that God will use Sara’s message and story to change hearts and lives, so your kind words mean so much!!
“I believe it, even when it doesn’t feel good.”
Been there, and return trips a’plenty, Mary! Thank you, Kelly for sharing Mary’s words today, they were just what I needed to chew on today. The Father knew!
“Return trip” – YES, Christine, I know exactly what you mean! Thank God we have a patient, loving Father, no matter how many times we make that trip!
I was just talking about this with my boys – Joy is a choice.I know my mission statement – to show my boys how to grow old loving the Lord. It’s not an easy mission statement because my fan base are not always my fans – and it is through determination, through choice – not accolades I adhere to this mission statement! Praying that joy is not a hard choice for either of us this week! Congratulations on your book – I think it needs to be on my book shelf!
Thank you for sharing your mission statement with us! What a beautiful goal for serving the Lord and your family!
Thanks for introducing us to Mary, Kelly.
This was so good! I know we have all been there before, but I love that your focus came back to what God has called us to do. Thank you for hosting 🙂
I’m so thankful He brings my focus back to Him. Easier said than done and impossible on my own, but with Christ we can do all things!
This is so true, Mary! We only feel cheated when we take our eyes off of God! So, that is the “trick”! Stay focused! Sometimes that can be difficult, but His promises are sure. We can trust Him. There are things in my life that I didn’t expect. I get pricks of envy when I see others enjoying something I thought would be “mine”. However, as you wrote, God has not changed what He has promised me! I’m choosing to focus on Him…in fact my “one-word” this year is live. I’m choosing to LIVE my life to the fullest…the life that God has given me rather than focusing on what I feel I’m missing. There’s no time for that!
Thanks for sharing your heart!
And thanks, Kelly, for the link-up!
Yes, focus is so important! And LIVE is a great word for the year – thank YOU for sharing with us!
Your words sunk in deep, Mary. This little ditty stopped me in my tracks and brought of flood of notes with it: “I promised Him my whole life…” (sigh) They were good notes, and ones that will need further prayer and reflection. Best wishes on your book release, but as for today, thank you for penning these thoughtful words.
Thank YOU, Kristi, for your kind words today! I pray this post and the book can be a blessing and encouragement to you!
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Thank you for being so open and honest, Mary. I easily fall into that comparison trap, so this post is such an encouragement. This really gives me pause for reflection – “The joy comes in learning to love it, not despite all I’ve lost, but because of all that it has brought to me.” Thank you.
Comparison is much easier to lean on than joy and faith – but I force myself to remember that leaning on GOD is the only path to peace and His purpose for me!
This was one of THE most powerful passages in the book…and there are a lot of them! I used a small stack of post-its marking all of the lines that spoke deeply to me. Sarah was the real deal and we the readers have profited richly from the wrestling she did in the hard, hard places of life. You’re writing so graciously weaves together Sarah’s story. Despite Sarah’s tremendous difficulty, her writing is nothing but ENcouraging. What a great read. It’s a tip top recommendation for me.
Lisa, thank you SO much for your encouraging words!! I’m so grateful the book blessed you!
A huge privilege to be on the Choose Joy book launch, and to meet Mary and Sara through their beautiful/real/God lifting up words. Bless you. sue
Sue, thank you so much for supporting the book and Sara’s message!
Mary, what a beautiful post. I’m so guilty of taking my eyes off of what God’s given me/promised me, and wanting what he’s given someone else. That whole comparison trap is a deadly one, as it breeds discontent within a gal.
Thank you for the reminder that God knows what’s best for me, and His plan for me is perfect, even in the pain and the circumstances. Keeping our eyes on Him nurtures contentment. Thanks for reminding me of this truth. 🙂
I need this reminder so often, too, Jeanne. I’m thankful for friends like Sara who point me back to Jesus and His call on my life (rather than on others!).
Oh Mary, I could so relate to the story you shared at the beginning of this post. We may be cut from the same cloth. 😉 Oh yeah we are, “recovering perfectionists”. Thanks for sharing honestly so that we can grow in grace.
Yes, friend, I believe we have a LOT in common! 🙂 Here’s to recovering a little bit more this year…!
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Ahhhhh … taking our eyes off our mission to look to another’s and then compare! How do we so easily get stuck in that? Thank you, Mary, for this awesome post!! I absolutely loved it!!!
Blessings and smiles,