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Compared To Her

19 Feb

This is a re-blog from another blog (Yep, no shame!) called Reflection Therapy and the article was written by blogger Kate Motaung, a fellow homeschooling mum. This is a book review, a book called Compared To Her, written by Sophie de Witt, a Brit who relocated to Cape Town a few many years ago. The reason why it caught my eye is that even though Sophie is a friend of mine and I really found her book helpful, I never thought of writing a review – let alone an interview. Why not take the opportunity of someone else’s hard work and share the article! So Kate Motaung, if you’re reading this, thank you very much! I enjoyed reading your blog post and I also think that Sophie is someone worth knowing and worth reading 🙂

Back to the book, if you are a woman, you are most likely suffering from CCS. If you want the remedy, you need to read this book. This is a GREAT read, not to be missed, not to be taken lightly.

Enjoy the article!

 

Compared to her – an interview with author Sophie de Witt [Book review]

In her new book, Compared to Her: How to Experience True Contentment, Sophie DeWitt describes what she has labeled CCS – Compulsive Comparison Syndrome.  Perhaps the title alone strikes a chord with you.  Within the pages of her book, Sophie helpfully points out how most of us as women struggle either with a ‘looking up comparison’ or a ‘looking down’ version of the same sin.  She explains the symptoms, effects, causes and treatment to overcome a life of compulsive comparison and move to experience true contentment in Christ.

In my opinion, this book hits the nail on the head.  It cuts straight to the heart of many of our inward thoughts as women – as we walk through the grocery store and compare ourselves to the clothes, hair, make-up and shoes of other shoppers; as we enter our friends’ houses and compare our own tidiness and décor to theirs; as we sit at dinner parties and compare careers, husbands, achievements, and parenting techniques to other guests.

The component that I most appreciate about Compared to Her is the way Sophie so clearly articulates the centrality of the gospel throughout each chapter.  I wholeheartedly recommend this as an excellent, easy, thought-provoking read – one that I have already bought as a gift for several of my own friends, both Christian and non-Christian.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Sophie and her lovely family in Cape Town over the past few years, and recently had an opportunity to ask her a few questions about her new book.

The last book you wrote was on one-to-one discipleship.  Of all the subjects you could have explored for this book, what made you decide to delve into the topic of comparison?

Primarily my own struggle with comparison over many years (being the middle of three feisty sisters didn’t help!), coupled with the apparent lack of biblical material specifically engaging with the issue of comparison and rivalry.  I got the chance to speak on the subject at a couple of women’s events in 2010 and it seemed to touch a nerve with so many women (both at the events and others I spoke to about it).  The more I continued to wrestle biblically with the subject, the clearer it became to me that the gospel has real practical help to offer sufferers like me of what I’ve called, ‘Compulsive Comparison Syndrome,’ and I was encouraged by friends to write about it to encourage others.

How did the compilation of this work help (or challenge) you personally in terms of your own spiritual life?

I think there’s nothing like ‘naming and shaming’ a sin to intensify your own battle against it!  It has been quite a hard process to analyze the depths and layers of my own sinful heart on this issue  …  and  to see how very ugly it is.  It’s all about wanting to be at the center, and I’ve seen more clearly than ever how incredibly proud I really am and how much I still trust in worldly things for my significance, satisfaction and security (like I know I’m going to have to fight the temptation not to let book sales figures or feedback affect my sense of significance in any way)!  Positively, I have found myself growing in contentment in Christ as a result of the thinking and praying I’ve been doing – it’s been so liberating to grasp that it is in Him alone that we find true and lasting blessing, for this life and eternity.  So, overall it’s been a great opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness – which is always both a wonderful and a jolly hard experience, isn’t it?!

On page 39 of your book, you write, “There is a way to know, to experience, to feel contentment.  And it doesn’t come from CCS.  It comes from finding a way to live without it.”  For those who haven’t yet read the book, what encouragement can you offer to those desiring to break free from a life of constant, compulsive comparisons?

Measuring ourselves against others based on our criteria of choice, in order to determine our ‘position’ in life , seems to offer us hope (“maybe, just maybe I’m not as much of a failure/as ugly/as sinful/as I think I am”).  But the result of these comparisons tends to be either a temporary and very vulnerable sense of satisfaction or a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction – actually often both senses together, but for different areas of our lives.  So there is great deception involved:  the higher position we crave won’t deliver the security, satisfaction or significance we think it will.

Breaking free of this destructive compulsion involves seeing through the deception and trusting that it is in Christ alone that we will find true and lasting blessing.  My prayer is that the book will help the reader apply the gospel to the problem and learn to live a life of contentment in Christ, able to truly celebrate difference and diversity rather than judge or envy it.

You’ve dedicated this book to your daughter, Molly.  What practical steps do you hope to take in your role as Molly’s mother to steer her away from the rampant scourge of CCS as she grows up?

A good, and very tricky, question!  She is now five and at pre-school and CCS is increasingly taking a hold of her.  She wants to do the extra-mural activities her friends are doing.  She wants this girl’s outfit, that girl’s puppy, the same scooter as her best friend, and so on.  We are just waiting for her to start saying ‘at least I’m better at this or that than her…’, or ‘I wish I was prettier/thinner, etc’ and then we have a full-on case on our hands!  Depressingly, this is actually inevitable because at the heart of the syndrome is a sinful, proud heart that wants self at the center and looks to idols or false gods to satisfy its desires.

When the first comments came, I told her that we all have our own lives to live and that we couldn’t afford to do the same extra-murals and that she shouldn’t be greedy wanting the same toys as her friends and she just had to be grateful for what she has.  But I realized that wasn’t actually a deep enough answer for her if I really want to introduce her to the only source of true contentment.  So I’ve started teaching her that Jesus is our Creator and our boss and He gives us all we need in life.  I’ve told her that it won’t make her a better or much happier person if she goes to sports or has a dog; God loves her and forgives her and she must live a life that makes Him smile.

But I ’m always listening out for and appreciate any help from more godly and experienced moms who have been helping their children deal with this issue for many years!

What role do you think accountability could play in combatting CCS?

It’s tricky – on one level, it’s a very personal struggle and requires lots of open-hearted wrestling before the Lord as we examine our own hearts and motives. It’s also quite a shameful one as the truth of our pride and idolatry comes to light.  But the Bible does say we need to encourage one another daily because of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).  We are to spur one another on to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).  We are to speak the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15).  So yes, accountability in the sense of sharing the struggle with another Christian friend or two is a great idea if it helps us to do this sort of honest, gospel encouragement better.

My husband helps me a lot, but it’s also great to have those friends who will call you up on your CCS when they notice you succumbing to the deception again.  “Wow!  Look at that birthday cake – she’s really raised the bar for us all.  How depressing!”  How might you help your friend at that point?  “No, friend, it’s not a competition.  She has a creative gift; she probably loves doing that sort of thing; maybe she has more time to spare.  Who knows?  But remember that this cake really is irrelevant for your child’s birthday celebrations.  Fear God not man!”

Having been raised in England, and now living in Cape Town, what do you enjoy most about South Africa, and what do you miss most about the UK?

I really love the vibe of South Africa – I love the way it forces you to engage with profound life questions and doesn’t let you get away with superficial answers.  The issues such as politics, poverty, vulnerable children, housing and sanitation, and racial reconciliation are so complex, messy, challenging and yet draw out amazing responses from individuals and communities.  It is so inspiring to see how people have stepped up to the plate here and been creative and sacrificial in addressing various needs.  It’s also inspiring to meet so many individuals who have been through so much hardship in their lives and yet still keep trusting and serving the Lord, and who are able to forgive those who have wronged them.  These encounters have enriched my life greatly.

Also, moving out of your own culture gives you an amazing opportunity to engage with the gospel and its application to our lives in a fresh way.  You realise that you have been holding on to some things and not engaging with other things, because of what is ‘normal’ around you, and this realisation gives you a great chance to grow in your faith and how you live it out.

It helps that Cape Town is probably THE most beautiful city in the world with so much to offer in terms of fun days out, arts and culture, food and wine (no, I’m not on commission from the Tourist Board – I just genuinely love the place).  Apart from missing beloved family and friends in the UK, I miss the supermarkets, free health care and central heating most I think (yes it gets very cold here in the winter, but the summer weather does compensate for this more than adequately!).

Sophie DeWitt is the author of One to One: A Discipleship Handbook andCompared to Her: How to Experience True Contentment.  She used to work with students in London, and now lives in Cape Town, South Africa.  Sophie is married to a South African pastor and they have three children.

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Djokovic vs the rest of the world

25 Jan

Getting married meant – apart from other things –  that I would have to take an interest in various sports. I mean, WATCHING various sports. Being french, soccer would be the obvious choice but living in South Africa, my boer husband is more into rugby. So I had to compromise; so I chose neither. I don’t like watching team sport. I can never remember their names and the colours all look the same so I’m never too sure whether I cheer for the right team or stupidly rooting for the Australians. Blergh.

I do enjoy supporting single players though. Take tennis. I love watching tennis.

Back in the day, I watched Roland Garros. Religiously. As if my life depended on it. It sort of did, considering that for froggies like me, Roland Garros is aka exam time. It is a great way to take a 4 hour break after 20 minutes of hard studying. Don’t judge.

Now, I can safely say that I watch tennis for the luuuve of the game. Over the years, I took great interest in some players. Some more than others.

Federer. Roger is nice. He’s a bit of a super human though. He hardly sweats. He doesn’t get angry. He barely gets thirsty. He dresses better than a Yves Saint Laurent’s fan (that’s no achievement – apologies to all my fashion victim friends) and looks better after a 5 hour match than I do after a 2 hour pamper time! I can’t relate.

Nadal. I’m treading on thin ice here so I’m going to watch my words to avoid any conjugal dispute: Rafaël is Spanish. Apart from paëlla and a lot of ¨, what good has ever come out of Spain? Plus his left arm freaks me out. Can’t his trainer help him with that? Shouldn’t someone give him some dumbbells.  I was ready to give him a chance considering his boyhish charm but his embarrassing video with Shakira ruined it for me. Cringe. I feel for him.

Murray. Oh puuuu- leaze. Don’t make me waste cyber space writing about Murray. Sorry England.

Djokovic. Ah, Djoko. Now that’s someone worth talking about. Let me educate you about Novak.

#1. He comes from Serbia. Serbian people have suffered enough. They deserve Djoko.

#2. Look at his blue eyes. Don’t these blue eyes say ‘Give me a racket?’. He was born to play.

#3. His great personality earned him the portmanteau of Djoker. He does impersonations of other players who, of course, are all his friends (they all want to be him obviously) and he dances – gangnam style. He’s got personality  and ‘personality’, in the words of Samuel L Jackson, ‘goes a long way’.

#4. These crazy australians (no offence australian friends, you aren’t as crazy as the french), somehow, think it’s a good idea to have these guys play at, like, 1am. No jokes. 1am. You know what I like to do at 1am? Let me tell you what I DON”T like to do at 1am: playing tennis. Djoko, he not only plays tennis but he also signs dozen of autographs at the end of the match. If one day, I become famous (for, I don’t know, writing stupid blog posts), I won’t be signing autographs at 1 am. Do not even ask.

#5. Finally,

I mean, isn’t this raw animal energy? How can you not be on his team?!

Sunday, the Australian Open final is on. Djoko, do not disappoint me. Otherwise I’ll have to delete this post that took precious time out of my busy homeschooling time.

(No Education Department, it didn’t…)

Life. Hermione’s style.

22 Jan

Before I became a Potter, I had a normal family, with (a) normal children daughter. Little did I know how much I was missing out on the Hermione Granger’s phenomenon.

Hermione Granger: the heroine that saved my daughter from becoming another victim of, I don’t know, what’s worse than Hannah Montana??

Thank you Joanna Kathleen.  Thank you for Hermione. I’m sad they forced you to write J.K to hide the fact that you’re a woman. That sucks. But you saved us from another generation of girls thinking that the best thing after living with 7 dwarves is living, like Montana, a double life (school girl by day, famous pop star by night and NOONE knows?? The suspense is killing me!)

For more than a year now, my daughter morphed into a nerdy, bushy hair witch, professing freezing curses or invisibility spells, armed with a wand and a book of HP. What’s not to like you might ask? I’ll tell you what’s not to like: nothing!

#1. Nerdy is the new skinny.

Nerdy AND bushy. What a role model!

Nerdy AND bushy.
What a role model!

If you had read my post about losing weight, you’d remember that it ain’t easy. And if you haven’t read it, you are dead to me.

Hermione taught me essential things, like nerdy has nothing on skinny. In the Prisoner of Azkaban, she actually masters the forces of time and space simply to have more hours in the day  to study. Now, that’s what I call dedication! Plus her wardrobe would not get her in the ‘popular’ circles! When last did you see the Batman cape on the catwalk, hein?

As a homeschooling mum, let me tell you she’s my dream student! Aaaah, if only my children would be geeks too…

 

#2. Bushy hair is like soft music to my ears.

Like a real nerd, Hermione has no time for flat-ironing her hair. She is average looking really, and she challenged the long straight blond hair beauty stereotype. That’s right, all you with straight hair, make way for the frizzy bush.

This is a daily scene in my house:

Me: standing in the bathroom working with these cursed curls.

Léa: I love your bushy hair mum. You’re soooo luuucky!!

#3. A wand is better than a tiara – any day.

Tiaras are so yesterday!

Honestly, what can Ken do with a tiara?

Tiaras are so overrated. They just sit there (if at all…) Even Barbie rejects the look.

With a wand, pshew, the possibilities are endless! I’ve been frozen, rendered invisible, levitated; all that by a wannabe-Hermione (yes, that’s my daughter I’m talking about!). Hermione, well, no doubt she knows the value of a wand.

Hermione: “You — crawl — back — here — after — weeks — and — weeks — oh, where’s my wand?

Harry: “Protego! Hermione! Calm —

Hermione: “I will not calm down! Give me back my wand! Give it back to me!

 

#4. She is nothing special.

That’s a big deal people! Nowadays, everyone seems to have a really special talent, a visible sign that they’re just not your typical next door neighbour – if you don’t have one, you can be my average next-door-neighbour. Hermione is a muggle (Not a mogwai, no, those are the creatures that turn into Gremlins). A muggle is someone whose parents are the average Joe. She isn’t born with a magic wand in her hand. She has to work hard at becoming the best witch in her class. There is no prophecy assuring her that she might live. She is principled, hard worker and brave (It’s almost too easy to hate her really) There’s always a moment in the movies when they have to turn to the brightest witch of her age to save the day and that’s why her name is on every cover (that, and the fact that it’s probably stipulated in her million-dollar contract).

Now I hope I’ve made my point.Next time you hear your daughter complain about her hair or her lack of special talent, make her read Harry Potter. Twice. That’s what my girl did!

 

I went to Coldplay concert and you didn’t!

21 Oct

…or maybe you did because every second person I know actually was at the concert. In fact more than 50 000 people made the show!

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Any outing at the Green Point Stadium always starts with a train trip – which in itself is pretty exciting for me since I never take the train. Phil and I, en amoureux, walked to the station, took the train and did the fan walk. We stopped on our way to a cute boulangerie, patisserie and had a quick bite before meeting up with the rest of the troop Kirstin, Steven, Ali, Rebekkah, Michelle, Etienne, Derek (whose pics I’m stealing further down!).

Excitement was building up as the Parlotones were already on stage doing a pretty good job!!

I’m ashamed to say that the first part of the concert is probably what I enjoyed the most – The Parlotones. Please don’t lynch me! I really love their music and I know their songs. I really liked Coldplay music but I don’t know their latest songs. It’s a bit frustrating when you can’t sing along. You know, that awkward moment when everybody starts screaming out of intense joy because it is now their faaaaaaaaavouriiiiiite song… and you just don’t-know-the-song… ??

However, the huge balloons were a great hit. The fireworks were spectacular and Chris Martin is an excellent artist. He owned that stage with his presence. His piano was super funky but I wondered if he needed glasses. He was bending very low, very up-close to the keynotes!

The experience was fantastic, I absolutely love the ‘concert atmosphere’, where somehow you almost feel close to the people around you because you share in the same emotional moment.

What some of you were…

1 Sep

Despite what the secular media and the gay community say, there are many Christians who do not wish to embrace a gay identity. These are people who, because of their commitment to Jesus Christ and their belief in the Bible, choose not to act upon their same-sex attraction.

This is part of the review for this book. I had until now never read a book on that topic. A topic, I feel, that is quite taboo in christian communities and far too advertised in the secular world.

This book deals with the issue of homosexuality, not by condemning this sin as the unforgivable sin (no sin is too big or too little to be dealt with on the cross of Jesus) but by looking at it from insiders’ perspectives. What some of you were is made up of different stories from different angles. We read about someone struggling with homosexual feelings, or about the parent of someone having these feelings and even from the viewpoint of the spouse married to someone who had or still has these same feelings. It is utterly heart wrenching to read about their struggles to break away from that lifestyle.

Even more heartbreaking is what led them to develop a same-sex attraction. In these stories, a form of abuse (sexual, physical or emotional) from either a parent or an influential person in their lives seemed to have been the trigger for developing same-sex attraction.

What I found particularly encouraging was not just the realness with which these stories were written but also the outcome of their tales. This is not a book with a “Victorious Christianity” attitude. Attitude that doesn’t reflect the christian life at all!  There is no “name and claim”, no “turn or burn”. The people involved in the pages of this book describe their life with such honesty that it will make you cry and pray for them.

To live the way Christ want us to live is painstakingly, incredibly self-denying and sacrificial. How much more true for them when what is asked of them is to turn away from who they are, or learnt to be.

I recommend the read but be prepared to shed tears!

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