FamilyLife Today®

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Amberly Neese

with Amberly Neese | December 28, 2023
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Struggling with comparison? Author Amberly Neese emphasizes the importance of community and creating a safe space where people can be seen, heard, and supported. Learn practical ways to find a community that will lift you up.

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Struggling with comparison? Amberly Neese highlights the importance of community, creating a safe space where you’re seen, heard, and supported. Learn practical ways to find a community that will lift you up.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Amberly Neese
2023-12-28

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Amberly Neese

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Struggling with comparison? Author Amberly Neese emphasizes the importance of community and creating a safe space where people can be seen, heard, and supported. Learn practical ways to find a community that will lift you up.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Amberly Neese and catch more of their thoughts at https://amberlyneese.com/ and on social media on Insta, Facebook and Vimeo.
And grab Amberly Neese’s book, The Belonging Project
Want to hear more episodes by Amberly Neese, listen here! 
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How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Amberly Neese

With Amberly Neese
|
December 28, 2023
| Download Transcript PDF

Amberly: Hi, I’m Amberly Neese, speaker, author, comedian, and a huge fan of FamilyLife®. The Bible tells us that those who refresh others will, themselves, be refreshed. The truth is: when I need a good refreshment, I absolute find FamilyLife to be exactly what the Good Doctor ordered. It’s great encouragement; it’s great wisdom; it is also the truths of God in the stories that you hear and the encouragement that you receive.

December is a big month for FamilyLife. We are counting on people like you, and me, who have been touched by the ministry of FamilyLife, and who want to be generous and who want to refresh others in the name of Jesus. I challenge you, as I challenge myself: “Be the blessing; be the one who refreshes others.” I know, indeed, you will be refreshed in the meantime.

Shelby: Thanks so much, Amberly. If you want to be refreshed, and refresh others, you can give right now at FamilyLifeToday.com. Just click on the “Donate Now” button at the top of the page. And now is a great time to donate; because of the generosity of some partners, every gift given will be doubled, up to $3 million. Again, head over to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on “Donate Now.”

Amberly: The question for you and me, as believers, [is]: “Are we willing to leave the comfort of our schedules and our agendas long enough to see people, who are asking for help?”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!

Ann: Okay, let me start out by asking you a question.

Dave: You are asking me a question.

Ann: Okay, so you’re a college athlete.

Dave: Oh, I just love letting people know that. [Laughter] It was just a few years ago.

Ann: But as a quarterback, you were injured; you had to have surgery on your knee. Your best friend and backup replaced you. Now, let me ask you: “Did you hope that he would play really, really well?”

Dave: No. [Laughter]

Ann: You didn’t?! [Laughter] What did you hope?

Dave: I would love to say I wanted the team to win and Mark to do great—Mark could be listening right now—but yes, deep inside, I was like, “I hope he just throws four interceptions, and breaks his ankle, and I’m back in next week.” [Laughter]

Ann: —Joe Montana. [Laughter]

Dave: There was probably a part of me that wanted him to do well because I loved Mark, and he was a great guy—still, we’re friends—but there was a part of me that I wanted to be the man. I wanted the whole team to go, “We have to have Dave back.”

Ann: When our son was playing football in college, and high school, if he was hurt, and another guy had his place—I am embarrassed to say [I thought]—“I hope he does horrible. I hope the whole team is like, “We can’t even play without Cody Wilson.

Amberly: Right.

Ann: And then, I would think, “What is wrong with me? I am so sinful.”

Dave: So why are you bringing this up?

Ann: Because we’re going to be talking about The Belonging Project with Amberly Neese. She’s back with us in the studio. Amberly, welcome back.

Amberly: I’m so glad to be here.

Ann: We’re talking about this because you have a mentality that you talk about in your workbook called “Crab Mentality.”

Amberly: Yes. Zoologists will be able to tell you that there is this interesting thing that both crabs and lobsters will do—this crab mentality—that if a crab is stuck in a confined area, let’s say a pot, if one makes its way up, and you think might actually escape, the others will drag it down. It’s so easy for us—the Pharisee in us—to say, “Oh, that is terrible. That’s the worst thing I have ever heard.” But I’ve seen it in humans all the time. To be honest with you, you even had a guest in earlier, who is wildly successful and does such incredible things by the grace of God. I find myself saying, “Huh,” when I look at her book sales and my book sales. [Laughter] I wish I could say, “Oh, I’m praying for her. I just want the best for her.” No, I want to squish her, like a bug, because she’s outselling me! [Laughter] You know what I mean?

But in order to practice biblical community, we have to root for the rise of others. We have to be willing to say—it’s kind of like mixing sports analogies—it’s kind of like a sacrifice bunt. I was a hitter when I played softball; I was a hitter. I was the one who got the homeruns. But on for this—

Dave: But when you got on—

Amberly: —yes, I was just going to say—

Dave: —the coach gave you—

Amberly: —so when the coach would say, “Sacrifice bunt,” it was like it was the worst ever. I would think, “Oh, that is so terrible.”

But why do you sacrifice bunt? Because you want the team to win,—

Ann: —the team.

Amberly: —and you want another teammate to advance.

As the body of believers, we’ve got to think like that; we’ve got to be willing to—look at Philippians 2—Jesus was all about the sacrifice bunt: He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; He was willing to make Himself a servant to do the sacrifice bunt. Why?—so the kingdom could advance; so that other people could continue to do great things.

If we’re going to live in biblical community, if we’re going to thrive in biblical community—find that tribe—we have to be willing to put that pride aside and get rid of the compare snare, where we’re looking at other people, and really think: “Be Christ-minded when we look at other people.”

I was speaking at a women’s event in this beautiful church in Southern California. It was a couple-day event, there at the church. They showed up on the first day. I went straight to the coffee bar, and there’s one lady sitting there. I fill up my coffee mug. I said, “Hello; how are you?” She said, “I’m fine,”—[long sigh]—I mean, the sigh was like wherever! [Laughter] I said, “Are you looking forward to this event?” She said, “Not really; no.” I said, “Okay,”—I’m thinking, “Wow! My self-esteem is around here somewhere,” [Laughter]—[I] said, “No, I’m the speaker; it doesn’t matter.”

I said, “What is your name?” She said, “Debbie.” I said, “Well, what are you hoping to get out of this, Debbie?” She said, “Honestly, my husband died a couple of years ago; and I promised my son, that if he found a church, that I would try it out with him,”—this is what I’m hearing. I said, “Oh! Okay; well, I hope this exceeds your expectations. I hope you have an amazing weekend; I hope God really blesses you this weekend.”

I leave that little alcove; I come around the corner, and there’s a table with ladies of all ages sitting there. They’re just laughing and having a really grand time. I went back; and I said, “Hey, Debbie; can you follow me?” She was like, “Yes, sure.” I said, “Will you grab a chair?” She said, “What are we doing?” I said, “You’re following me; grab a chair.” She grabbed a chair, and I took the chair from her. I plopped it in front of these ladies. I said, “Hi, ladies; you don’t know me from Adam. This is my friend, Debbie; we go back about four and a half minutes. And I think she would be a great fit for this group.” They were like, “Oh, sure! Absolutely; okay.” I mean, they brought her in; it was so beautiful to watch the body of Christ work this way. “Yes, of course! Have her sit.”

She looked at me like a deer in headlights, like, “What are you doing to me?” I was like, “Bye! Have fun!” I go off and do whatever. She finds me the next morning at the coffee bar. She said, “Do you know who those group of ladies were?” I said, “No.” She said, “They’re the widow’s ministry from this church.”

Ann: Come on!

Dave: No way!

Amberly: She said, “I have somebody sitting with me every meal today. Just thank you so much.” I said, “You know what? It was so not me. It was like I don’t know what it is, but I just felt like that needed to happen.” I was so blessed to be a witness to what those women did; because it’s so easy, when we get comfortable with our people, to feel like there’s not room for more/there’s not need for more. I feel so thankful that [wasn’t] the case; she got community.

She was bitter—I’ll be honest—but I feel like she was open and hungry for community. I think we have to start and recognize our own need for community, and that God has wired us for community. Fifty-two verses of the New Testament have “one another”—which to me, is like one of those things, when your parents would say a message

100 times, like, “Be good,” or “Be kind,” or “Wear clean underwear,”—whatever their thing was—you knew where their priorities were.

The fact that 52 times in the New Testament we have the term, “one another,” it’s really important to the heart of God.

Dave: It’s interesting: when you share that story, we’re all in tears;—

Ann: I’m in tears.

Amberly: Yes.

Dave: —because of the power of community. I think we’re in tears because—“Look at what God did,”—because you didn’t know those women. But also, it’s like we’ve all felt the loneliness and the longing of our heart for people.

As a pastor for several decades, we used to have different strategies. Back in the ‘90s, most pastors would say, “If you want to reach people, here’s the progression: they’re going to become believers; and then, they’re going to get connected.” That changed. Probably 25 years ago, we started to realize, “People aren’t going to become believers unless they first belong. It’s okay for them to come; find community; and then, they’re going to find Christ,”—because of the need in our souls. You said it earlier in our other program: “61 percent feel lonely.”

It’s such a strong need; they aren’t even interested in believing until they find somebody who sees them and knows them; then, they might go, “What do you believe? What does this community about?” Then, they come to faith. Is that sort of a thing that is happening, because of our souls? I mean, God built us that way; but we long for belonging.

Amberly: Absolutely. If we are going to make a difference in this generation, we need to be connectors, period. We need to be connected to God, and we need to know who we are in Him. We need to be connected to other people, who make us bigger, faster, stronger. We have lots of hearts that just need someone to say, “I see you,” and “I want to connect you to a God who loves you.”

Ann: I think I was so broken for so many years. Because of my own pain, I didn’t know how to let Jesus heal all of that. The more I connected to Jesus—the Word; other women—I feel like He set me free. And when you’re set free, you can start looking around. Women are good at seeing each other if our eyes aren’t focused on ourselves and our own pain.

I think about that group of women: first of all, you saw her.

Amberly: I did.

Ann: You saw her; you talked to her; you felt what she was feeling. And then, the Holy Spirit just prompted you to put her in this group. That’s what women can do—men can do it, too—but women have this sense of: “Oh, I see your pain; I feel it, too.” Part of it—

Dave: You’redongles.

Amberly: We are dongles.

Ann: Yes, yes!

Dave: I got that phrase from your book.

Amberly: You did!

Dave: I’m like, “I never heard that before.”

Amberly: I know. So when Apple® products/when they started making some changes, there was this silly piece—I don’t even know—it’s probably the length of your index finger.

Dave: Yes, I’ve got one in my—

Amberly: Yes, this connecting piece that would take older technology and connect it with newer technology. One of my friends said, “You know, that’s a dongle.” I said, “You just made that word up! That’s the craziest word.” “No, it’s a connector.”

The more I thought about it, the more I thought, “That is our job as believers: to be a dongle for a lost world,” or “…for a world that is just hurting,”—for us to be willing to be a safe place and to connect them to the One who can do the healing. And then, when that happens, it’s this wonderful cycle that God has created—where, when we are a safe place and when we serve to connect people to God, then they are more apt to connect others to God—and there it starts. I love that; we are, indeed, dongles.

Ann: And we’re talking about this Bible study that you’ve written; and the first week—you have weeks—the first week is called “Find One Another.”

Amberly: Yes, yes.

Ann: Why is that so important, just to find each other?

Amberly: The first part of “Find”: it’s like one of those—I don’t know if you’ve ever read Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Wife [books: devotional or book of prayers]—

Ann: Sure.

Amberly: —I remember it was at a really tumultuous time in my marriage that I bought that book, thinking, “I’m going to buy this book, and I’m going to change my husband.

Ann: Me/that’s exactly why I bought it!

Amberly: “I’m going to pray his face right off!

Ann: Yes!

Amberly: “I’m going to pray…”

And you open it up; and it’s like: “By the way, if you think that this is going to change your husband—news flash—it’s about you.” I was/I’ve never wanted to throw a book so much in all my—

Ann: Me, too! I did throw it!

Amberly: Yes, not a good Frisbee®.

Ann: Yes, I remember where I was, like, “This is dumb!”

Amberly: Yes, “…and stupid. I just spent $16.95 on this.”

Dave: Well, thanks for praying us.

Amberly: Yes; [yelling] “You’re welcome!!” [Softer voice] It’s our pleasure; it’s our pleasure.

But the truth is, once I revisited the book, I realized that it was about me figuring out where I wasn’t practicing the “one anothers” in our marriage.

Ann: Me, too; yes.

Amberly: It really was a wonderful self-discovery book. Yes, I did end up getting to a place where I could pray for my husband; but I had some work that I needed God to do in me first.

I think that that is the part of “Find”; I think recognizing that we need people. Again, we live in a country: it is honored for you to not need anyone.

Dave: Yes.

Amberly: I love being American, and I’m so thankful; but we have individuality down to a science and an art.

The gospel flies in the face of that, and says, “No, no, no; you’re created for community. You were created in God’s image—who Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is community—you are created in that image. And so, you need other people.” Being willing to find your need; and then, be willing to open yourself up and explore some things.

In the book, I gave some really, I feel like, practical things of how people can unpack that and to look at that; things like, interest groups—find something you’re passionate about that you feel like God fills your heart with joy when you do it—and do that thing. For me, it’s hiking with my dog; I feel so connected. We live by a beautiful hiking trail, where we live in Prescott, Arizona. When somebody says, “Hey, do you mind if we hike together for a while?”—just walking alongside somebody, when our bodies are moving and our mouths are moving, God does some incredible work in me, and through me, and despite me to others.

I just took a cross country tour to visit my daughter, and it was fantastic. But on the way back, I was on the 40—it was beautiful—and I am in a car that I have not owned a whole year. And I’ve never gone below 50 miles to empty. I am looking at the map, and it says that I’m 15 miles away from a gas station; I have 20 miles left. I’ve never gone this—it’s the dog and me—and we’re going; we’re going; we’re going. It goes: “20 miles to empty” “19 miles to empty” “18 miles to empty”…”4 miles to empty”; and the gas station is 5 miles away.

Ann: Whoa!

Amberly: I pulled over before the car actually ran out of gas; because I thought, “I’d rather be at a place that’s safe”; there was a little gift shop in the middle of nowhere—tumbleweeds; the whole nine yards—it was literally like, “This is a CSI episode waiting to happen.” [Laughter] Here I am; I pull over. We’re going to be in an air conditioned place, and I’m going to be fine. And the lady says, “I can’t help you; I’m here by myself.”

I walk outside; and there are some patrons, who had just gotten soda pop or whatever they got at the store. I said, “Hi, you don’t know me; but I’ve just about run myself out of gas, and I’m embarrassed that I’ve let the car go this long without gas. Is there any way”—I said—“I’ve $25; is there any way that you could go to the gas station, a mile away, and get a gas can and come back?” The first thing she said, which was so glorious, is, “Oh, girl; we’ve all been there before.” I’ve never wanted to hug a stranger so much in my whole life. [Laughter] Twelve minutes later, I have a new gas can—if you need one—I’ve got you.

What I told my husband was: “Once I got over the initial shock that she was so glorious, is that: “That’s my job as a believer—is to say to more people—“I see you stranded; I see your struggle.” Let’s me honest: it took her 12 minutes out of her busy day. She probably was busy, but she was willing to take the time.

The question is, for you and me, as believers: “Are we willing to leave the comfort of our schedules and our agendas long enough to see people, who are on the roadside, asking for help?” She could have said, “You’re an idiot,” and I would have deserved it; but she didn’t. She started with:—

Ann: “Oh, girl…”

Amberly: —“Oh, girl; we’ve all been there.”

Practicing more of that, I feel like the New Testament church/the churches, we wouldn’t have enough pews if more of us were willing to say, “Oh, girl; I see you. We’ve all done it; we’ve all been there”; and then, leading them to hope. That’s my personal conviction.

Ann: “Oh, girl; we’ve all been there.”

Amberly: “We’ve all been there.”

Dave: We were at a FamilyLife® event; and we had to fly from Puerto Rico to Cleveland, Ohio, to speak at a marriage weekend. That night we [were to] walk on the stage at

7:00 [pm]. Our flight’s at like at 9:00 [am] in Puerto Rico; it was going to be a little tight. The flight gets cancelled.

We’re sitting in Puerto Rico; I literally called the guy, saying, “Dude, I don’t know if we’re going to get there. He’s like, “Well, I’ve got a board of directors. We’re going to go in a room; we’re going to pray.” He was super calm: “He’ll figure out a way.” I say, “Okay; thanks.”

Long story short: we end up getting a different flight through Pittsburgh; got a rental car and drove to Cleveland. Here’s what happens: it’s Southwest. Because we booked the flight so late we’re in “D” or “C”—

Amberly: Of course.

Dave: —we’re going to be the last ones. We literally have to get off the plane first to make it. I go up this person in A-1, and I say, “Could I give you $20? I don’t want your seat, but would you save me a seat?” He says, “No, I’m not going to save you a seat; but somebody will.”

The lady behind him goes, “You don’t need to give me a dime; I’ll save you a seat.” I’m like, “No, seriously, I’ll give you money.” She goes, “You’re obviously in a desperate situation; you can tell me later what it is. I will save you a seat,” —some total stranger—and she does.

Ann didn’t get to sit there; but I did so I could run to the rental car. When I sat down, she said, “Men were yelling at me, because I’m holding this seat for you.” She goes, “You better have a good reason!” But I thought, “I felt so seen by a stranger

Amberly: You bet.

Dave: —"who cared for me.”

Ann: She was so protective. She stands up—because we’ve got to be off of that flight [or] we’re not going to make it—so she stands up; and she’s yelling at these guys, “We need a bag back there! Pass that bag up there!” She’s doing that for us to get us off the plane.

Dave: And the whole flight, she says, “So what do you do? What’s this all about?” I guarantee, just based on what she said, she’s probably listening right now.

Amberly: Oh, praise God!

Dave: She was an angel; because she was like, “You do what?!” I’m like, “This is what we do: we write books about and do marriage stuff.”

As you talk about the “one anothers” in the study, The Belonging Project, I honestly think, “I don’t care enough for the one anothers.” Whew! I’m just being honest. When I see somebody on the side of the road, or whatever, I’m usually thinking, “I’ve got so much to do; I should stop”; and I drive by.

Amberly: Yes.

Dave: That’s selfishness; that is me-centered. How do we break that?

Amberly: Me-ology; yes,—

Dave: Me-ology.

Amberly: —I get that; I think that that’s part of it.

The other thing is: I do believe—oftentimes, that’s an outlier—I feel like seeing that person on the side of the road. I think, oftentimes, the widows and orphans, who are in our path, are—the lady at the grocery store behind us, who’s trying to wrangle her kids and is at her wit’s end; or the person at the post office, who is angry, frustrated, and unkind—those, oftentimes, are the people I feel like God specifically places us there to love them. Not that the person on the side of the road is not important; but I’m just saying, “The people that we’re actually doing life with, I think that’s often our most profound mission area.”

Ann: I think you’re right. It’s looking for the people who are already around us.

We have a ministry for women in Michigan; we have an event once a month for women.

Dave: Guess what it’s called: Heard—not H-E-R-D—H-E-A-R-D.

Ann: —because God hears us.

Dave: Being seen and heard.

Amberly: I love that.

Ann: Some of the women, before our get-together, will go out to eat. There’s always this waitress—this young waitress—who these women are [talking with] her, “Hey, thank you,” “You’re so cute,” “What’s going on in your life?”; and then, they leave her a big tip. The next time they see her, they’re like, “Hey, tell us a little bit about yourself.” She’s a single mom: “I just had a baby, who’s a couple of months old.” She said, “I’m trying to figure out how to make it/how to make some money. I was just offered this job.”

They said, “Come to this event with us.” They leave her another really big tip. They said, “We’re going to talk about how God loves you,” and “You’re amazing. You’d probably love it,” and “Bring the baby. We’ll watch your baby.”

This girl comes. This small group of women pray for her: pray that God will provide, pray for money, pray for her as she raises this boy. Then, they start asking: “How can we help you?” “Do you need a place to live?” “Do you need a babysitter for your son?”

Amberly: Come on.

Ann: So the body of Christ comes together. This girl keeps coming every single month. Her entire life is transformed by Jesus, but also by a community of people who are seeing her, loving her, and caring for her. The last event for the women that we had, she brought her mom. Her mom was crying; and she said, “I don’t even know how to begin thanking all of you. My daughter has been transformed, and my little grandson is being raised in a way that I am amazed of what a good mom she is. Thank you.”

Amberly: That’s the power of community.

Ann: That’s the power of one another.

Amberly: Yes.

Shelby: I have found, over and over again, that the more I isolate, the worse off I am. Christianity is never meant to be a solo thing, so this perspective today has really reinforced my desire to continue to go deep with people and watch God change me and then the other people around me, for His glory and our collective good.

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Amberly Neese on FamilyLife Today. Amberly has written a book called The Belonging Project. It’s a four-week Bible study that provides biblical and practical help for just what we were talking about today: cultivating meaningful relationships that glorify God through this one another-ness that the New Testament talks about. It’s a beautiful book, and it can help you connect with others. You can get a copy by going online to FamilyLifeToday.com and clicking on “Today’s Resources.”

You know, we’re at a unique time, right now, in the year. I wanted you to hear this, specifically, from Dave and Ann Wilson.

Dave: So the clock is ticking; there’s only a few days left in this year. I’m telling you: you’ve heard us talk about becoming a financial partner with us to literally change families and impact the world for the kingdom of God. Now’s your time! There’s just a few hours left; jump in now, and join us. Every dollar is doubled; you can make a difference.

Ann: Join us in this battle. It matters.

Shelby: It does matter; Ann’s right. Thanks to some generous donors, every gift that is given this month is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $3 million. You can help us take advantage of these donors’ generosity and give today to help with that battle that they were talking about. You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the “Donate Now” button right at the top of the page; it will pop up as soon as you log on. Or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

When you do give, as our “Thanks,” to you, we’re going to send you a copy of Trillia Newbell’s 52 Weeks in the Word. With the start of the year, 2024, it’s a great time to renew your commitment to getting into the Scriptures. This book from Trillia Newbell will really help you do just that. Again, you can go online to donate and get a copy of her book as our thanks to you at FamilyLifeToday.com; click on that little “Donate Now” button at the top of the page.

Now, tomorrow, David and Meg Robbins are going to sit down with me, Shelby Abbott, and David and Ann Wilson to talk about exploring the power of what it means to be seen in marriage; in parenting; really, in life. We’re going to talk about that and discover how acknowledging others’ gifts can transform relationships and even your own self-perception. That’s tomorrow; we hope you’ll join us.

 

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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