Everyone has those special stories they tell really well. Some are hilarious, embarrassing, and cringy. Others are full of hope or sorrow. Regardless, we all feel like we have to have a story to tell, and the need to constantly create a story can often stop us from actually living one out. Spiritual growth is kind of the same way. It’s something that as Christians we are constantly striving toward, but it becomes toxic when we compare our Jesus story with the person next to us.
I used to always think I didn’t have an interesting story to tell others. “I’m not cool enough, funny enough, smart enough, pretty enough …” The list of lies goes on and on. I was basically born in church, and that is where I grew up. Because of this, I always felt surrounded by people who were spiritually superior to me. You know what I mean? I felt like the people around me were always on a higher level. They could effortlessly quote Scripture, knew the story of every person in the Bible, and had way more knowledge, wisdom, gifts, and talents than I could ever dream of having. It frustrated me so much, I started comparing myself to other people constantly. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned that spiritual growth is not something you create; it’s something you live.
I started to fake my way through prayer and worship so that I’d match the people around me. You know the saying, “Fake it till you make it”? Not such good advice in this scenario. The more I tried to pretend I was growing spiritually, the less I actually grew spiritually. Which makes sense, because my relationship with Jesus became more about what my reputation with Him was than about actually growing closer to Him.
But here’s the truth: Where someone else is in their spiritual growth might not be where you are, and that’s okay. Just because someone else can pray an eloquent prayer, worship with an amazing voice, or always has the right words to say doesn’t mean you have to feel inadequate. You have specific, unique gifts from God that you can use to honor Him. But if you’re constantly wishing for other people’s gifts, you’ll end up wasting yours.
Jesus has equipped each of us with different tools to be used in different ways. Ephesians 4:1-16 talks about “unity in the body.” It says we all belong to the body of Christ and that each part of the body has its own special part. How cool is that? Jesus intended for us all to be different parts, so of course our stories will sound and look different.
When I compared my spiritual growth to those around me, I wasn’t focused on Jesus. Being confident in where you are in your relationship with Jesus allows you to focus more clearly on what He is telling you. And when you’re focused on God’s plan for you, you’ll be able to live out the story God’s been writing for you all along. My story sounds different from yours because it is. That’s not something to feel self-conscious about—it should be celebrated.