Friday, February 06, 2009

The only measure worth measuring

Some of you know this about me, but I have a degree in math. Yes, that's right. A Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and no, I have no idea what I intend(ed) to do with it. It is what it is and I confess such to you knowing that my nerd status is now henceforth and forever established. No doubt about it.

Anyway, one thing I love about math, particularly the math where there are equations and numbers and answers as opposed to higher level math which is nothing but Greek letters and proofs and such, one thing I love is that it's concrete. There's a process. There's an answer, a single answer. It's black and white. Provable. Reasonable. Measurable.

I love what can be measured and reasoned and thus evaluated. I love figuring things out. The funny thing is, so does my husband and my boys, my oldest two especially. We will have some of the nerdiest conversations you can imagine in which we try to figure out such conundrums as "If 1/4 cup of powder makes one gallon of electrolyte drink, how much powder does it take for a 24 ounce water bottle." Really. We do that. A family of nerds, that's what we are, and we wear the label proudly.

But sometimes my love for quantitative measures has more personal ramifications. Take for example Facebook. There the number of friends one has, a quantitative measure, is easily compared to another's, conveniently inviting a "<" or ">" or "=" equation. In case you're wondering, my friend count is generally on the left side of the "<" .

There are any number of measures we use to evaluate our worth and determine our significance. Our weight. Our income. Our sitemeter stats. Or take, for instance, the handy dandy "Blog follower" tool. Convenient, yes. Interesting to see who reads what, absolutely. A measure of popularity, perhaps. True confession: sometimes when I click on so-and-so's blog and happen to note that a gazillion or so readers follow so-and-so's blogworthy thoughts, I can't help but sigh. See, I have, well, slightly significantly less than a gazillion followers. (The few! The proud!)

Because I love a black and white, concrete measure, it is easy for me to conclude, for example, that because so and so has "x" number of women coming to her Bible study and I have "y" then she has the Lord's favor. Or maybe she is the better, more gifted Bible teacher. I'm talking just as an example, hypothetically speaking of course.

Okay, sometimes I really am that insecure.

It's the insecure heart that frantically looks to her left and her right to see where she measures up. Or where she doesn't. Listen, there will always be someone thinner, someone with more facebook friends, someone who's a better teacher, someone with the bigger house and someone with more obedient children. Comparing ourselves will never answer our gaping self esteem issues. Instead, comparison only invites discontent which will invite further comparison which brings greater discontent.

Let's break out of the cycle. I'm not called to look like her, whoever she is. And neither are you. Our call is this: to serve the Lord Jesus, to exalt Him, to remember the grace He pours out on us just because He loves us, to affirm our unworthiness as we proclaim that while we were yet sinners Christ died so that we might live!

After all, the only measure worth measuring is immeasurable, that is, the "immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved..." (Eph. 2:7-8)

14 comments:

  1. Beautifully said, Lisa!

    I'm trying to be a "less is more" gal. In having less, I can give more to others. Less FB friends means I can actually pay attention to the ones I have. Same with Bible study. While I have been extremely guilty of wanting to be a popular blogger/teacher/writer/speaker, I'm learning that giving my all to the "less" reaps a much greater reward. I want to do whatever I do, well...rather than giving a mere fraction of myself and my attention to others. Does that make sense?

    And by the way, it is really unfair that you're so good in numbers AND words. I'd be envious if that wasn't breaking a commandment or something ;-)

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  2. I tend to compare myself to what I think I COULD be, if only I did . . .

    My "ideal" self is often very difficult to measure up to.

    Good post. Food for thought.

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  3. Lisa,

    I am so glad you were a math major! What might have my time at Baylor been if you hadn't been...

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  4. Good thoughts. Math was always my favorite subject (and I probably *should* have been a math major, instead of an accounting major), and the concreteness of it all was definitely part of it. And I never made the connection, but I, too, tend to continue to look at concrete measurements of things I don't need to be measuring at all...

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  5. I can totally relate. Thank you for the encouragement and the challenge.

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  6. Okay, this is the second time in the past week you've posted straight out of my brain! LOL

    I don't ever remember reading this verse before recently: We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. II Corinthians 10:12 Wow, that one hit me right between the eyes!!

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  7. Excellent! So well said!

    And, BTW, can I come to you when I need to how much of whatever needs to go into so much liquid! That is just too much math for me. I'm all about shapes & colors. I can tell if you your socks will match. Okay?

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  8. A B.A. in math! I didn't know that. One of my sisters has a degree in math and her daughter teaches math in high school. I'm learning later in my life that God seems to always give me the interesting group for Bible Study. Usually smaller and quirky. Groups where God has caused me to move outside my comfortable organized zone that I like to be in. You never know what a lady with onset alzheimers is going to throw out there...More dependence on Him and not my organization...Not the favorite group in the world's eyes but the group that God put together for me to be a part of...

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  9. Noteable differences: I hate math. But I married into a math family. So I figure I'm now balanced somehow...

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  10. I think the reason it's so easy to measure ourselves against others is because we know everyone else is measuring too. Playing the comparison game is not just limited to a few insecure people. It's the way our whole culture is structured. What a waste! You've zeroed in on the solution, and our purpose. Way to go, Lisa.

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  11. Wonderful post Lisa. It is pathetic how we can make up our own measuring tool to measure ourselves up against others.

    No matter what, I can fall prey to this prideful, selfish sin.

    Oh Lord that I would be content just where you have me right now.

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  12. Wonderful post Lisa. It is pathetic how we can make up our own measuring tool to measure ourselves up against others.

    No matter what, I can fall prey to this prideful, selfish sin.

    Oh Lord that I would be content just where you have me right now.

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  13. Lisa,

    I am so glad you were a math major! What might have my time at Baylor been if you hadn't been...

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  14. Jennifer DixonJuly 01, 2011 1:27 PM

    I can totally relate. Thank you for the encouragement and the challenge.

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