Lord teach me to… cheer.
There is a section in my prayer journal titled “Lord teach me to.” I affectionately call it the room for improvement section. Be wise, listen, and be courageous are my standard daily entries in the little box.
Then one day I added the word cheer.
My thirty-something year old self was not talking about squeezing into a short skirt with pom-poms in hand. I didn’t want to usher in a trip to the emergency room after attempting a high kick followed by a split.
No, I was praying for a change of heart.
See, I am a comforter. I do a decent job of lifting others up when they are down, but I realized I don’t do a good enough job of lifting others up when they are on a mountain top. I needed to take some lessons from the cheer squad – the girls and guys – that still cheer when their team is down and roar when their team scores.
I needed to find my ROAR.
Popping confetti with genuine excitement when a friend is on top was something I desperately sought. You would never know that I wasn’t a cheerleader. Lots of encouraging words would part from my lips. I even had facial expressions down to a tee.
But I realized the words weren’t always genuine, because the origin was not from the heart. I knew this. God certainly knew this. And it was chipping away at my soul.
I’m guessing you can relate. As Christians, we’ve trained ourselves to lather our words in honey, but we often have a bitter taste left on our tongues. We need to check our hearts on a regular basis.
So for weeks, I continued to pen the word cheer in my journal. I prayed for the Lord to work on this deficit of mine. I asked Him to scrape away the layer of envy from my heart and squash the unwholesome thoughts that crept into my mind.
Honestly, my envy didn’t flare up due to acquirement of material things or seeing pictures of friends on luxury vacations. No, my jealousy stemmed from achievement. I’d been working hard on a calling Jesus placed in my heart and I hadn’t tasted the fruits of my labor. (Ecclesiastes 4:4).
I know, I know, all too well everything is in His timing and it is not about me. And while this knowledge provides comfort it also provides ample time to look around. This looking around instead of up is exactly how and when I get in trouble.
See, I have a love for writing. Most importantly I love writing about how Jesus rescues us. How He paid for our sins. And certainly how often He saves us from ourselves and our destructive thoughts and habits. I often say all my roads lead to Jesus, therefore I end all of my stories with Him.
So when I opened my social media feed and read a story written by a close friend, the claws of envy dug into the fragile shell of my soul.
It just seemed my friend obtained the very thing I had been trying so hard to obtain in half the time. Heck, it seemed like her success happened over night. Although this does happen, I know this is often not the case. Sweat, tears and hard work usually go hand-in-hand with achievement.
And time, don’t forget time.
But she had reach. She had likes and comments – way more than I had ever experienced. And all from her first post. This all sounds so silly as I write these words. I know Jesus is not concerned with our online popularity. However, reading her eloquently placed words which obviously resonated with many people, left me with a feeling of disappointment.
Am I not doing a good enough job? I questioned the Lord. I equated my purpose with quantitative measures instead of trusting in the Lord to take my meager offerings to serve His purpose. The number one is just as important as ninety-nine to Jesus. (Matthew 18:12).
My doubt, insecurities and jealousy were leading me astray from His path.
I shook my head as I said the word no. No, I am not doing a good job. I’m not doing a good job as a cheerleader. Someone who shouts, jumps and shakes her pom-poms when others are using their gifts for His purpose. I’m not cheering others on as they achieve their dreams, big or small.
Instead I use their accomplishments to highlight my insufficiencies.
I didn’t like the way I felt, so I decided enough. Picking up the phone, I sent a message simply saying how proud I was of her for using her gift. I meant it this time. I really meant it.
And you know what? Those simple words led to a beautiful conversation of how we can work together to achieve the goal of providing genuine hope and encouragement to others. And perform our purpose of pointing the lost to our Savior. (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12).