Share The Love

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Valentine’s day is just around the corner and for some of us it is a day we dread or it is a day of excitement! For me it is just another day where people do things to let someone know that they are appreciated and loved. Everyday should be Valentine’s day honestly. We should always find ways to share the love of Christ in our everyday lives. There are so many things we can do to share that love even if we don’t have anyone “special” at the moment. We can send a thoughtful text, make a valentine’s card, bake something and hand them out, write a heartfelt letter, send flowers, etc. Anything you are able to do just do it! Life is incredibly short and we never know how much time we have in this life so make the most of every moment and every day. God’s love covers a multitude of sins and it’s the most potent kind of love there is. Even the people we may not like at the moment are intensely loved by God. Loving God is easy but loving people is where the challenge comes in. People are flawed, they can be super inconsiderate, ungrateful, rude, mean, evil, and the list goes on. But we have the capacity to be those things too and God looks past those flaws and loves us anyway. I have come to the realization that God’s love was never meant for me to understand but to receive. The only way we can love the lost or even love our enemies is through God’s love for us. Understanding that a perfect God can love a flawed human like me humbles me enough to love through the hurt. Loving people has nothing to do with liking people. I heard a definition of love that transformed the way I love people. Tony Evans eloquently stated that biblical love is the decision to compassionately and righteously seek the well being of others. We have attached love to emotion and that is not entirely the case. We will not always feel like loving the difficult people in our lives. Loving difficult people can be draining especially when they are ungrateful but it is necessary. It is required. Choose everyday to love; to compassionately and righteously seek the well being of others.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
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7 Ways To Start Your Year Off Right!

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Hey everyone! it is the start of a new year and everyone is anticipating on setting goals and doing great things in 2017! We all have this desire and excitement when the year starts off but then somewhere along the line all of the excitement and desire wears off. This year I am hoping to keep my excitement high until the end of the year and keep it flowing. Who knows exactly what 2017 holds for us but I do know that good or bad they are all learning experiences, stepping stones, and training grounds preparing us for what God has in store. Perspective is everything and also how you start is important!

Figure Out your Purpose. What has God placed in your heart? What is that one thing that sets your soul on fire? Think about what you see yourself doing and how it can add onto the Kingdom of God. Our purpose should not be selfish but it should have a positive impact on the society you live in, the people around you, and the Kingdom of God. Figuring out your purpose can be difficult for some and simple for others. If you are having trouble find people in your life that you trust and that are spiritually sound. There is a young lady that I admire and She has amazing advice and has been called to help people figure out their purpose. They call her the purpose pusher <—Click the link for More!

Prayer. Prayer is KEY! You can’t do this year right without prayer. My church always does a consecration every beginning of a new year and this year we are doing it in January. This helps us to reset our spiritual lives and purge anything out that may have lingered into the new year. This also helps for the congregation to get on one accord. Prayer and fasting can bring everything into perspective and can give you the time to listen for what God whats you to do. We have a have this habit of listening to everyone else but God. Prayer gives you the opportunity to hear him clearly and fasting makes his voice clearer. Pray about your purpose and your goals he has great things set up for you to claim and receive.

Remove Distractions. Just do it. Every distraction in your life, get rid of. Now if you are heavy in ministry and your phone is a distraction to you; I wouldn’t get rid of that lol. Pray for God to help you not be so attached to your phone. Go to a coffee shop if the TV distracts you from setting and meeting goals. I actually had to get out of the house in order for me to plan at least the first 6 months of the year and write this post. If I stayed home I probably would’ve been laying around doing nothing, that’s not productive. Figure out those distractions and say goodbye. Some are easy to let go of than others but you can do it.

Set Realistic Goals. Plan. Deadlines. I know this seams like a lot, and it is. lol. Nothing great comes easy it’s going to take hard work and dedication to get those goals met by 2018.  I have many so that means I have a lot of planning to do. There are plenty of ways to help with planning whether it’s using google docs or a huge planner. Whatever your vice, use it. For example in my google doc I have deadlines for all of my posts up to June and I am not perfect so I may or may not meet these deadlines. I plan to do so and I set realistic deadlines and goals. Don’t set a deadline for yourself that you know you won’t be able to meet. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet goals or deadlines. As long as you did your best that is all that matters! So set realistic goals, plan them out, and set those deadlines!

Don’t Share Next Moves. Be Careful Who You Share Your Goals/Dreams With. Not everyone can handle what God has spoken into your heart. Remember Joseph? He had an amazing call on his life and the mistake he made was telling everyone the dreams God placed in his heart. He wouldn’t have gone through all of those tough experiences if he kept them to himself. Everything did work together for his good. To him, didn’t matter how he got there all that mattered was that God spoke it so it was going to happen. When God sets your life up it doesn’t matter what people say or what the enemy does. It will happen. I have dreams that God has spoken into my life but I won’t share only because people can be discouraging even if that’s not their intention. Write them down if you can’t hold it in. Pray about them out loud in your room. Share when it’s time to share them.

Start. And Keep Going. The biggest obstacle I have is starting, and I know I am not the only one. Starting anything can be hard whether it is a business or a ministry. Two things usually hold people back from starting and they are Fear and lack of resources. Fear is a vicious demon, yes it is. I have dealt with fear since I was a child, we know each other well. Fear is crippling and destructive, destroys dreams and keeps God from giving you his best. You can either have fear or God’s best, they do not coexist. I am learning that now. Lack of resources can be discouraging but we serve a God who takes our little and can make it much! All we have to do is bring our best to him and he will make up the difference. Nobody has it all, we all need God’s grace and power no matter how gifted we think we are! So just start; Keep going even if resources aren’t there he will provide.

Enjoy The Journey. I can’t stress this enough! ENJOY YOURSELF! find joy in the little things, in the obstacles, in every moment life is short. I think 2016 helped me to realize just how short life is with all that we hear on the news. There go I but by the grace of God! It is only by his tender mercy and grace!!! God wants us to enjoy this life he has given us, abundantly. Not only do we have life after this one but there is so much he has in store for this life. The life we are living now is the only space we have to make a difference in our communities and society at large. Don’t waste it. Don’t just exist in it. But live it! Enjoy it!

Happy New Year!! Make 2017 Count! Let us declare and dedicate ourselves to a prosperous year filled with God’s power!

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This post is also posted on my other blog Beautifies The Meek.

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The Quest For Beauty

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Scrolling through many Instagram accounts and watching countless videos of girls demonstrating how to properly apply makeup. I look through my makeup collection and find that I have the most pathetic assortment of drug store makeup. Most of it is from high school when I was experimenting with purples and browns. Though I seemed to have this stuff I rarely picked it up and used it and I thought well that has to change. There is a wedding coming up and I need makeup! Well, a beauty blender, some make up brushes, some mist spray, an eyebrow pencil and bronzy eye shadow later I came to a very odd realization. First off, why am I buying all this stuff and secondly I don’t wear makeup! Then it dawned on me…

This is an attempt to search for beauty in make up and other outside sources to make me look aesthetically beautiful. Now I am not saying that I think I am ugly but I am saying that I desire to be more beautiful than I already am. I was on this quest for beauty and I didn’t even realize it. God truly has a way of showing you your heart in subtle but obvious ways. I used to deal with low self-esteem and depression as a teenager into my young adult years. So you can say I am familiar with those two, we go way back. I wish I can forget where I came from but it’s a sweet reminder of what God has saved me from. I can say I am in a better place but you know, those spirits love to show up now and then.

Watching beauty gurus and looking at pretty Instagrams are not a bad thing. Just pay attention to what is happening in your heart while you are indulging. I didn’t realize what was planted and growing until God brought it to my attention. Every girl wants to be beautiful to everyone else. If not for everyone else at least for that special somebody. Beauty is something that is sought after by most women through makeup, anti-aging products, new ways to look younger faster, and so on and so forth. Beauty has truly become an obsession in our culture and this obsession is most definitely creeping into the church. Women of God are more concerned with their looks then they are with their prayer life. We focus most of our attention on our fancy clothes and expensive wigs than personal bible study. Of course I am not saying that looking your best is sin or a bad thing. What I am trying to address is that this quest for beauty has become an idol that we put before our relationship with God.

Beautiful can be defined as pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically, of a very high standard excellent, delighting the senses or mind, etc.

One thing that I am learning as I walk with Jesus is that his definition of words or concepts are different than ours. The bible says that his ways are not our ways or his thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). So his definition of beauty is entirely different than our standard dictionary definition. Even if we have our own ideas of what beauty is, his view of beauty is still different than ours. Throughout the word it is evident to see that God focuses on the inward man, the heart. Worldly beauty just focuses on the outside most of the time. God’s standard of beauty goes beyond aesthetics and straight to what matters most.

Let me challenge you with this thought. What if beauty was never about us? What if beauty was all about God? What if the only way a person is beautiful is how much of Jesus they had in their lives? What if Jesus was the standard of beauty? How different would things be?

First of all I was completely challenged by this thought when I read a few articles who were also tackling this perception we have of beauty. It has truly challenged the way I viewed myself and others. There are scriptures that reveal the beauty of God (Psalm 90:17, Psalm 96:6, Isaiah 33:17, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 50:2, Hosea 14:6, Zechariah 9:17). There are also scriptures that express God’s holiness as beautiful (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 96:9). Many others that affirm how his beauty made the people of God look (Isaiah 28:5, Lamentations 2:15, Zechariah  9:16, Ezekiel 16:14-15).

So maybe there is truth to this concept that true beauty only comes from God. Incorruptible beauty comes from God alone. I am on this journey to obtaining this beauty for myself and also encouraging other women to do the same. When it boils down to it none of this life is about us, but it is all about Him! I really want God’s beauty all over my life and I want people to see Jesus when they see me. So I am still on this quest for beauty I am just redirecting my search to the creator of beauty himself.

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Life Lessons: Gratitude

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From time to time I find myself in teaching moments. Life has many of them and today was definitely a teaching moment and I learned a few things. Sometimes as I go through life I forget that Gratitude is everything! Changing your attitude no matter how your circumstance looks like is key. Times have been hard financially for me and for whatever reason I was short on a particular bill. Normally this would push me over the edge. I would usually allow doubt in my heart and then I begin to question God and what he is doing up there. I start to feel defeated and my perception of this once blessed life is now full of misfortune and sadness. LOL. I sound crazy. But this is literally my thought process when things get tough. I am super DRAMATIC and God has to deal with me and teach me the same lesson every time. Mercy Lord.

But, I am proud to report that I didn’t do that this time! I learned so much just by staying calm and trusting God. Even though every bit of me wanted to react and cry out to the Lord “Why have you forsaken ME!” Within these moments are valuable lessons and I am so grateful to experience these types of moments.

It’s so easy to express gratitude when things are going well. It’s easy to be thankful on the mountain top but gratitude shines the most in the valley. The attitude of gratitude is especially needed when we are in our darkest moments. It’s amazing how we can declare of God’s wonder and power in the sanctuary but when life hits the fan we forget. I would just forget about all of the other times God has pulled me through. I would forget about what the word of God says about his provision and his faithfulness. I would forget about his mighty power and how he reigns over everything. I would forget about who I was in him and my connection with him. I am reminded of the story in the bible where Peter walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33). When his eyes were fixed on Jesus he was fine until he took his eyes off of Jesus and unto the waves. He began to sink, and I believe that’s how we sink and get overwhelmed. Once I take my eyes of off Jesus it’s a wrap. I am no longer listening to the voice of the Lord now I am listening to my flesh and the devil’s lies.

There is this one song that ministers to my core when I feel myself losing my focus on Jesus. God I look to you by Bethel Music. This song is so honest and I feel like it totally translates my emotions and helps me to redirect them back to Christ.

“God I look to you

and I won’t be overwhelmed

give me vision

to see things like you do.

God I look to you

you’re where my help comes from

give me wisdom

you know just what to do”

– God I look to you by Bethel Music

God I Look to You – Bethel Music

Instead of declaring that I am overwhelmed, instead of defaulting to doubt, instead of curling into a bubble of emotions and frustration; I play this song and allow it to reverse every negative thought. It does the trick every time! I began to look at my situation through the lens of gratefulness. I will say that because I was calm and I kept my composure, I was able to pay this bill. Once I paid it I thought of other people who couldn’t pay their bills this month and the pain and fear they must be going through. I was humbled by God’s grace and love that he shows every single day. In that moment I realized God didn’t forsake me at all! His faithfulness and consistency brings my faith up a few notches. I am so happy that God’s faithfulness isn’t dependent on my faithfulness or my situation. He is faithful and that is just who he is no matter what I am doing or what I am going through and I am utterly grateful!

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Jesus never promised a life full of daisies and sunshine. In this life we will see bad days, we will go through the fire, and we will run into some tribulation. But Jesus did promise us his peace that passes all understanding and victory to overcome the hardest tribulation. God didn’t leave us powerless! His spirit helps us to overcome and find strength when we feel weak and hopeless. We have everything we need to win the battle over doubt and fear. Moving forward I plan on holding onto what I have learned and grow in faith that even when I am at my lowest I can always find reasons to be grateful.

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When Life Begins…

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There are many lies circulating within our culture. All of them were believed as fact at some point and some lies we call out and others we carry with us. Lies comfort us while the truth exposes and challenges us. Have you ever told someone a lie just to becalm their response because if you told them the truth; whew it’s a wrap! The enemy has pumped lies into our minds hoping at least one would stick. His strategy is to constantly feed lies through media, family, friends, and any other outlet that would give him a platform to speak. The word of God is full of truth and revokes every lie the enemy spits out. His lies are like venom they kill everything in its path the bible even says that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10

The devil’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy through these lies. As we believe them and conform to these lies we are desensitized to what is really happening. I have watched friends stay with cheating boyfriends believing his lies while knowing the truth, but won’t confront the situation and see it for what it is. Well let’s unpack a lie that has yoked us up for long enough, it’s time to see things for what they are.

Biggest Lie Ever: LIFE BEGINS WHEN…

I get a boyfriend/girlfriend

I get a husband/wife

I start my career

I start to make money

I lose weight

I turn 30

My ministry takes off

I reach my squad goals

I am debt free

I get 100k followers on my social media

Hopefully, you get my point. Since when does a certain event dictate the way I live my life. I remember speaking with someone over the phone and they were dealing with some boy issues. I couldn’t relate, couldn’t give her advice based on experience, I came from a place of common sense.

She proceeded to say to me “I can’t wait until you get a boyfriend, that’s when your life will begin.”

I was shocked and confused at the same time because to my knowledge I felt like I was living my life already. I was already in a state of depression so this statement was presented around a tough time. My heart was already beaten down and weak so you already know how I translated this in my mind. My life will begin when I am in a relationship. The fun life every girl dreams to have will only begin when I have a boyfriend. I need a boyfriend to live, I need a boy’s validation to be worthy of a full life. If I can’t get a boy to validate me then I am without purpose or worth. Do you see how believing this lie from the moment it was said affected my perspective? My perspective on my life was ok, I was a freshman in college. To me my life as a young adult was just beginning, so much to experience, so many demons to conquer; man my plate was full there was no room for a boyfriend (still none). But I believed this lie and carried it with me and it began to form into other areas of my life. I am still dealing with the damage and trying to allow God to clean up the remains and restore. It took me a while to realize the truth but when I received this revelation God began to transform and rearrange my mind to his word.

Do you want to know the truth? Well, I got it and so do you It’s the word of God.

Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this? – John 11:25-26 CEV

Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.       -John 8:12 CEV

We know that Jesus Christ the Son of God has come and has shown us the true God. And because of Jesus, we now belong to the true God who gives eternal life. – 1 John 5:20 CEV

“I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father.” – John 14:6 CEV

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. – Proverbs 14:27 KJV

Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life. – Romans 5:10 CEV

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

You are my place of safety and my shield. Your word is my only hope. – Psalm 119:114 CEV

When I am hurting, I find comfort in your promise that leads to life. – Psalm 119:50 CEV

When you corrected me, it did me good because it taught me to study your laws. – Psalm 119:71 CEV

The moment I said YES to him is the moment I began to live. My life was dead and deserted full of pride, pain, and sin. The moment I was submerged in the water and spoke with tongues as the spirit gives utterance, I lived. Life was imparted into my soul by the true life giver. In him is where I live, move, and have my being. Without him I am walking dead with the allusion of life. It’s ok to have desires but those desires do not hold the long lasting hope that we need to carry on. I never want to live my life waiting for the next thing, living for the weekend, living for the next phase of life. What kind of life is that?

I challenge you to live your best life NOW. Don’t focus on your desires too much just trust him and enjoy the ride. With every twist and turn he has you in the palm of his hand giving you reasons to trust and LIVE FULLY in him

 

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Brown Dolls And Natural Hair

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Photo Credit:Mz Mahagany Chic

This post is quite different seeing that it is a different topic but I felt like I needed to write this one.

My niece is 2 years old. She is possibly the most annoying child, the thorn in my side, drives me up every wall in the house…

But at the same time, she brings so much joy, hope, light, and life to my existence. I know, I love this girl to life!

I feel like I have such a major responsibility as her aunt to make sure that her view of herself never changes. I kid you not this girl loves mirrors. Not because they are cool and fun but because she can see herself in real time. lol. You should see her, dancing and laughing in front of the mirror like a crazy person. Then moments later she stares at herself for a long time in silence. I honestly wonder what she is thinking when she has those moments.

This world is a scary place; raising little girls and boys in this world is frightening. My niece’s father tells her that she is beautiful every time he picks her up. He makes sure that his daughter KNOWS without a doubt that she is beautiful. Children come with such confidence, even when they are dead wrong they wear their wrong confidently. She does this all the time.

But I do wonder where does this confidence go?

When do they stop seeing themselves as beautiful?

When do they start running away from mirrors and seeing themselves as less than special?

Some may say High school or even say as early as pre-school, not sure because it varies from child to child. There is a shift that happens that can either make or break a child and that scares me. I used to be just like my niece; looking for mirrors, loving every flaw and then, shift, something happens; some moment or event changed my perspective. When my niece begins school or daycare the world will begin to challenge what was instilled in her. That’s life I guess. Life challenges us to see if we will stand and believe no matter what’s stacked up against us. No matter how many lies the enemy throws at us, will we still believe the truth?

My niece is brown and has beautiful natural hair. Someone is going to challenge that and feed the lie that brown skin is not beautiful or natural hair is not acceptable. She will face lies that will break her heart, cause her to arrive at a crossroad between the lies and the truth. I try to make sure my niece has brown dolls, and if they have natural hair perfect! Not to say that other skin tones aren’t beautiful because everybody is beautiful, we were all made in the image of God. Buying mostly brown dolls only reinforces the beauty in her tone and the beauty of her curls. I want to make sure she knows how to combat the lies and take on the challenges with grace. That’s my prayer every day is to be able to give her the one thing she needs to survive.

Jesus.

The truth is Rama you are beautiful. Handcrafted by the King of Kings himself, bought with a price. Your value doesn’t lie in boys, things, status, society, or stereotypes. Your value and worth are found in God. Although he created the heavens, the moon and the stars, galaxies upon galaxies this great God is mindful of you (psalm 8:3-4). You consume his thoughts and you are in his heart. Never mind the naysayers and those who can’t see the beauty God has placed in you. Sometimes it’s hard for humans to see the authenticity and peculiar artistry that is RAMATULAY. Your name is kind of interesting and that’s ok, my name is ZAINAB we can be the girls with weird names. Trust me you will meet others with odd names too! 😉 You are intensely loved by Jesus and because he first loved you, share that love with those around you including the haters. Haters need love too. You already love yourself, just don’t let the world change that love into hate. Don’t worry you have family and a church family that will back you up and remind you of who you are in Christ. Love you Ramzi.

Because God can…you will.

Because God is…you are.

Challenge Accepted.

Comparison Kills

The smell of sweet Freedom fills the atmosphere as I insert my key into the door knob. Home sweet home. Time to unwind from a long day of school, High school can be so tiring. From the teachers barking commands across the classroom to girls fighting over silly things like boys. My eager hands reach for the remote.

Click. Tv is on and I am in my element.

Where did this idea of Comparing myself come from really? I can recall back to my pre-teen years where B.E.T. was the forbidden channel in my household. In my disobedience, I watched anyway and I couldn’t help but notice the lack of representation of me on the screen. I was exposed to this demon of comparison through the music videos and movies. This is where it all began.

Fast forward to 26 and I find myself wrestling and struggling with comparison. In my prayer closet, God reminds me that comparison kills. Comparison is a ruthless monster who devours every bit of confidence in you. What you had confidence in begins to dwindle when comparison comes around. Just being in the presence of comparison strips you of what you need to move. Comparison kills, your joy, purpose, anointing, confidence, trust and faith in God.

To be transparent, I compare myself all the time. I love to sing and it is the one ability in my  life that I treasure close to my heart. When I feel like people compare me to other singers I get extremely insecure. I do not have the churchy “black” sounding voice and being a part of a church culture that glorifies that scares me. I am the CCM singer. I sing pretty. That’s just how I roll. I think I sound like a struggling cat when I try to sound “black” no exaggeration I really do. What Comparison does to me is it tells me that the CCM singer has no place in the “black” church culture.

I love my church! SO MUCH! The feelings I share on here are not a reflection of them at all. This is all in my head. For a while, I was convinced that I was a placeholder for the next praise team leader. The one who could rock the crowd and has crazy range things I do not have. I felt like my feelings became a reality when the church  welcomed two amazing singers. WHOA, these two can blow!!! On top of their gifts they were anointed and humble. A series of events happened and I whispered to myself.

Zainab, you have been replaced.

which was fine with me at the time because I was tired of feeling inadequate. I enjoyed the background. Blending in and being a part of the team was comfortable. But even in the background, I compared myself to them in my heart. Jealousy is never a problem for me but comparing myself is. I am realizing that comparison is an anchor in my life that is holding me back.

If I had any advice for those who struggle with this same demon, I would tell you what God told me.

Trust what’s inside of you.

Trust those gifts and allow them to unfold in you. When you trust God you are able to trust what’s inside. Trust your gifts to carry you into his will and his power.

…Because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 KJV

I would like to believe that a Great God will only fill us with Great gifts and Great purpose. He is not mediocre so neither are his plans or gifts.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. – 2 Corinthians 10:12 KJV

It’s pretty foolish to compare yourself to others. It can be a form of pride when we compare ourselves because it begins to question who God is and his word. Who are we to question his intentions or his intelligence?

This is a habit that I must break in my life. The more I spend time with him in prayer the weaker the power of comparison becomes. I am learning to trust what’s inside and always remember that comparison kills.