I had the pleasure last week of being on the faculty of the week-long Montrose Christian Writers Conference. I was tasked with several workshops and giving a testimony-type “Morning Challenge” keynote talk on Thursday. I took notes from the first three morning keynote speakers so my talk wouldn’t overlap. But then I started to compare what I had to say to their great speeches. The speaker on Wednesday even threw out candy to the audience. What should I do? Throw out money? And I started asking, “Why me, Lord?” “Why would they call on me to give a keynote following these other wonderful speakers?” And that gave me the theme for my talk…how over the years I have had a tendency to compare myself to others, a defect of character which has led to fear, jealousy, self-pity and low self-esteem when I let it – and how I’m sure other writers attending the conference – and many people in general – have dealt with this as well. In fact, it’s the subject of my latest book, The Jealous Son. So here are a few snippets of my talk…
It seems like most of my life I compared myself to others. First, with my growing up with one sister just a year younger through sibling rivalry. Then in school. At the University of Notre Dame I was in class with Hannah Storm, the news anchor at ESPN. For years after graduating I was a newspaper reporter – and I actually did a short stint as a TV news reporter for a small TV news station in Salisbury, MD – but then I was laid off. I started asking the question “Why me, Lord? Why can’t I be more successful?” I went from being a news reporter to working as an account executive with an ad agency, got married, and with my first child on the way decided to quit and open up my own ad agency from home to spend more time with my kids. But I ended up putting them in day care to work hard to help pay the bills and then, being jealous of all the stay-at-home moms who were in “Mommy and Me” groups, asked “Why me, Lord? Why do I have to work so hard?”
I decided about twenty some years ago to write a book…and it actually won the Maryland Writers Association fiction prize – representation by a top literary agency in New York City. But then 9-11 happened and I lost the prize. Again I asked, “Why me, Lord? Why didn’t I get my prize?” I remember being in a really dark place after that. I was devastated and sent out lots of query letters but got rejections. I was depressed and full of fear that I’d never be an author. Driving along I heard a still small voice (I look back now and realize it was God) calling on me to write a modern-day novel based on the Book of Job (which became my first published book, The Faithful One). I wanted nothing to do with writing about modern-day Bible stories at first. “Why me, Lord?” of course I asked. “Why couldn’t you call me to write something else that will make me rich and famous?” But I know now God had a plan…He not only healed me of a lot of “Job” like stuff I was going through but was calling me to get His Word out in a way today’s readers could better relate to and comprehend.
And a little over 16 years ago I realized I was an alcoholic…but it wasn’t until I stopped “comparing myself out” and asking “Why me, Lord?” that I could stop fighting it, admit I had a disease, and could get and stay sober…and finally be purposeful and happy. I can see today that, as David says in the beautiful Psalm 139, “You search me Lord and You know me…for You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…and your works are wonderful.” So if you are low on self-confidence or self-esteem or you find that you’re comparing yourself to others or living in fear or even asking “Why me, Lord?” try to stop today and ask, “Why NOT you?” God chose YOU!
Dear Lord, instead of asking “Why me?” and living in fear, help us to ask”Why NOT me?” in an effort to do Your Will and build Your Kingdom. Help us to see You have a plan for each of us and to be grateful.