I stood in a circle of women, holding hands as we prayed over all that burdened our hearts. It was a beautiful moment in time and it felt like sacred space.
And then I realized it was my turn to pray next. How could my prayer compete with their prayers?
The prayerful petitions of the women before me were intimidating. They used big words and strung them together flawlessly. They prayed about things that never crossed my mind. I listened as they painted a powerful picture with their words. And I felt small.
And as the woman next to me squeezed my hand—the universal signal that she was done and I was up—I began to sweat. I lost my words. My mind went blank. And I stood there for what seemed like 10 minutes, desperate for any kind of sound to slip through my lips.
But nothing happened. So I squeezed the hand of the woman on the other side of me, feeling like a failure.
Lord, I can pray at home. I can pray in my car. Why can’t I pray in front of others? What’s wrong with me?
Have you ever been afraid to pray out loud in front of others because you’re worried your prayers aren’t as good as hers or theirs? Or maybe you’re too self-conscious to share your insights at Bible study because you’re certain the women you consider spiritual giants will find your comments silly?
We can get so trapped in comparison when it comes to our faith.
I’ve lead small groups and Bible studies off and on for years. And in every one of them, I’ve known one or two women who have felt terribly inferior. It’s understandable, though. Many of us would admit to being hurt by the church at one time or another.
… We’ve sat with women who think they’re better than the rest of us.
… We’ve heard the flowery prayers—the ones where they sound super holy but we’ve no idea what they’re even saying.
… We’ve been on the receiving end of judgmental or condescending comments and glances.
… We’ve been corrected for our words or theology in front of a group in a mean-spirited way.
… We’ve all felt small, belittled for asking “silly” questions.
And it’s left us feeling insecure about connecting with other women and sharing our thoughts or prayers out loud.
For many of us, we’re simply too afraid to share our struggles because we worry others might judge us or see us as faithless. We keep our mouths shut because we don’t feel confident in how we interpret scripture and are afraid to mess up. And we won’t pray out loud, scared we’ll sound elementary.
It’s is shaken our confidence. Even more, it makes us shy away from meaningful community. We may crave the deep waters of faith with friends, but our insecurities keep us in the shallows.
The last thing we need is one more “I’m not enough” reminder, and so we decide it’s not worth the risk. Because deep down, we desperately want to measure up. And we want to be seen as holy enough in our prayers… in our interpretations… in our godly advice.
But you know what? Faith isn’t about putting on a good public performance. And it’s most certainly not a competition.
When we buy into those lies, the Enemy wins. He knows that if he can make us more concerned with looking holy rather than living holy, our faith becomes a measuring stick for our self-worth.
But sisters, here is truth to chew on:
1) God created each of us differently on purpose. You weren’t made to be just like her, you were fashioned to be one of a kind.
2) He gave us different gifts and talents and insights. He designed only one of you and only one of her.
3) We have different spiritual giftings. And part of thriving in community means we recognize those differences and celebrate them!
4) We hold different perspectives and life experiences. God crafted each of us to see life in fresh ways. Your point of view adds value to a conversation!
We’re designed to fit together to make a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. We are created for community, and we each bring something special and unique to the collective.
So be careful to not let faith become a measuring stick. Pray out loud. Share your struggles. Offer your perspective. Ask the questions. Present your understanding.
We are all in this together.
Carey is an author and speaker, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her NEWLY RELEASED BOOK, Uncommon, a battle cry for women to step out of the ordinary and live with purpose and passion. Carey also wrote Untangled, a book about the insecurities we face as women and how to live in freedom. She lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook.