Same Storm, Different Boat

I love the water and was blessed to grow up in the great state of Michigan. It is surrounded by the Great Lakes which gave me the first taste of what I thought an ocean would look like. I was lucky enough to live out in the country and our property was on a smaller body of water called Lake Ogemaw. My friends and I would be out in the lake almost every day in the summer swimming, skiing, and floating on inner tubes. Some of our neighbors had pontoon boats and we would go out and eat dinner with them while slowly floating around the lake as the sun began to set. It was so peaceful and a great end to a summer day.

Sometimes we would be out on the water and a storm would roll in. The thunder would boom in the distance and you knew his good friend lightning would be following behind. If any of you have ever been on a boat in a lake or an ocean during a nasty storm you know what it feels like to get rocked back and forth. It can get extremely nauseating. Then the rain comes in and pounds on your head incessantly and you wonder if its ever going to stop. Does that sound a little like a difficult situation you have been in? Pressure seems to be coming from every direction and you start to feel helpless. The bad news keeps battering your skull in the form of golf ball size hailstones and you wonder when the storm will stop.

I attend Impact Church and last weekend Pastor Travis Hearn gave a powerful message. He talked about respecting people and using our words to build each other up. Then he made an excellent point about judging others that really impacted me and inspired today’s blog. He said that “we can all be in the same storm but be in different boats”. Here are the two things that immediately came to my mind. 

Judging Other People

When the stay at home order first came into practice here in the United States a lot of celebrities came out telling people to do just that- stay at home. I believe that many of them were doing this to use their influence in a positive way, but then some would chastise people who were a little resistant to this new way of life. They filled their social media accounts with photos of themselves chilling in their palatial estates with the hashtag #quarantinelife, which has over 9 million posts on Instagram alone. Some would resort to using colorful adjectives saying to “Stay the *@#** home!” That might be easy for them to say, but they may not have to worry about making a mortgage payment or having enough money to put food on the table for their kids.

Think about it this way. We are all getting battered in this storm, but we may not all be cruising in the water on the same boats. The person who is very well off and has no financial worries may be on a 100-foot yacht while others are in a row boat with holes in the bottom of it that they are constantly trying to plug. We are all just trying to stay afloat and weather the storm. Who are we to judge anyone? It is unfair for a rich person to look down upon someone who is poor and say the reason is because they are lazy and have no initiative. If you don’t know his story, then keep your mouth shut. It is also wrong for a poor person to condemn a rich man for his abundance. The person may be very well off, but he gives half of his income to charities that help the homeless and builds homes in third word countries. That fact is we are in this together and there is only one judge and His name is Jesus Christ.

“There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

James 4:12, ESV

Comparing Yourself to Others

How many times have we been guilty of this? The adage “Keeping up with the Joneses” comes to mind when I think of comparison. It starts out when we are young and for some people gets woven into the fabric of their identity as they get older. Instead of focusing on being the best version of ourselves, we constantly compare ourselves to those around us. This happens a lot in sports and the major hinderance for athletes who do this, is they lose perspective on what they can and can’t control. Instead of trying to outdo an opponent or even your own teammate, you need to focus on your strengths and improving your weaknesses.

John Wooden is one of my favorite coaches of all time. Unfortunately, I never met him personally, but I had the privilege of hearing him speak at Western Michigan University on August 22, 2005. Think of how impactful that day was for me that I actually remember the date 15 years later. I have read a few of his books and in one of them he talked about how his Dad raised him and his brother. He always told his sons to focus on being the best version of themselves and not compare themselves with others. This way they set their own standard. When we compare ourselves with other people, we can put a lid on our growth. What happens if you surpass that person? There is a chance you will stop growing which is a dangerous proposition in my opinion. We should always look for continual growth in our lives and live a life that is “lid-less”. 

Momma Horton always told me to shoot for the moon because even if you miss you end up with the stars. I want to encourage you today to focus on improving yourself and bringing value to people around you. Live a life that is self-less and live a life that is Christ-like. If you want to strive to be like someone, try and love others like He did. 

Here are some things to think about this week and apply to your life:

  • Focus on helping others and do not judge them.
  • Get to know people in your neighborhood on a more personal level and offer to help them.
  • Make a list of your strengths and think about how you can bless others with them.
  • Make a list of your weaknesses and think about who you can reach out to so they can help you grow.

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