For as long as I can remember, I have struggled deeply with comparing myself to other people. My hair, my clothes, my house, my car, my friendships….all are subject to scrutiny and the impossible task of measuring up. (If you struggle with this, too, can I suggest a book? Love Idol, by Jennifer Dukes Lee, helped me in more ways than I can say. I’ve read it three times, because sometimes I’m kinda like a child and need to be told something a few times before I really get it.)
At times, this struggle with the comparison trap has even affected my relationship with the Lord. I would see others in church on Sunday mornings and think, “She just gets it,” or, “I wish I could be like that with Jesus….” I would see the way other women worshiped or prayed or interpreted Scripture and think that the way I do it is not good enough. I would go so far as to tell myself that God isn’t pleased with what I offer Him, and that He, too, wants me to do it differently and more like everyone else.
Terrible, sad, and completely untrue.
Unfortunately, it takes me awhile to absorb good things, but things like that sink more deeply much more quickly. I started to believe those lies. The deeper they became embedded into my psyche, the more they colored every attempt I made at spending time with God.
There were times when I was convinced that I shouldn’t spend any time with Him if it isn’t perfect, deep, spiritually rich time…that I shouldn’t even try if I can’t do it “right.”
“Just don’t bother,” I would think, “because you don’t get it like they do. You’re just not good at this.”
One morning, though, something shifted. I flipped open my Bible and, in the tradition of those who believe that God will show them the right word for the right moment, read whatever my eyes fell on.
“I will sing a new song to you, O God.” (Psalm 144:9)
That got my attention, so I did a little search on other similar verses. (Again, I need to be told things over and over, in a hundred ways, before I get it.)
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. (Psalm 96:1)
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:3)
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. (Psalm 33:3)
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. (Psalm 149:1)
Over and over in Scripture, it’s there: the idea of a new song. As I thought about it, my thoughts first rested on the idea that I could offer something to God that has never been offered before. A song, perhaps, or something I’ve written – an offering of praise and adoration that comes from my heart and my heart alone. I can give something to God that no one else can. That realization alone was staggering, and a truth my unsatisfied heart needed.
As I sat that morning, though, journaling and thinking over what I’d read, my heart went deeper.
A new song.
My new song.
Certainly, part of the power of that idea is that the song I sing today is not the song I sang before I knew the Lord. It’s the classic “I once was lost, but now am found” concept. My song of despair was replaced with a song of hope.
There’s something more, though, and that morning I had a revelation. The psalms were originally written for use in the context of worship, so when they use the word “song,” they use it in that sense, too. The new song these verses speak of is essentially a brand new worship chorus.
It’s a brand new offering of love and worship to God.
And here’s what I realized that morning, and what I’m still reminding myself of today: my personal relationship with God is brand new. No one else has the relationship that we have. The way I worship and spend quiet time and sing and experience Him are unique to our relationship, just as certain ways of relating and talking and communicating are unique to the relationships I have with other people.
In human relationships we have inside jokes, for example, and experiences that have colored the fabric of our relationship with one another. Those are things that no one else can understand, because they weren’t there when it happened and have different histories.
With God, too, I have things that no one else has. I have the way that He speaks to me and teaches me in the mundane things of life, and I have the way He romances me in nature. I have the way we dance together as I write. I have the intimate moments sound-tracked by worship music. I have moments in my car when it is as though no one else exists anywhere but He and I. I have those moments and experiences that are too personal and too special to even recount here. Those are the things that make up our relationship. That is our love story, and it’s uniquely us.
He’s not expecting anything from me except me.
He’s not waiting for me to become like someone else.
He’s not looking at the way other women worship and wishing I would do it more like them.
He wants me, and waits to hear my song. Our song.
My love story with God is my new song. If He celebrates it and relishes its rhythm, I certainly should, too.
This is my story, this is my song…praising my Savior all the day long. (Frances J. Crosby, “Blessed Assurance”)