Friday, May 11, 2012

...In Comparison...

I can’t go through a single day, sometimes even a single hour, without comparing something about myself or my life to something about someone else’s. I imagine, especially if you are a girl, that you do it too. We can’t seem to help ourselves.
One of my best friends has 4 kids just like me…but she only weighs 90 pounds. I would have to be BLIND not to compare myself to her when we hang out.
I have another friend whose house is always IMMACULATE…and mine NEVER is, even at the end of cleaning day…even 10 minutes after I finish cleaning.
That van is nicer than mine.
My yard has better landscaping than theirs.
My kids are cuter than anyone else’s.
My kids are CRAZIER than anyone else’s.
That shirt looks awesome on her.
The same shirt looks like CRAP on me.
What are they complaining about? If their life was half as nuts as mine, then they could complain. But they have it EASY compared to me!
I can’t imagine how they are still coping. Compared to them I have a charmed life. I shouldn’t be complaining, or worrying, or stressing, because my stuff is small compared to theirs.
This could go on forever. Surely you know what I mean. We all do it. We mentally measure ourselves against someone else, and we either come up short or we win…in our mental measuring contest, that is. But who is keeping track of who wins? Who started this measuring game anyway? Who is the judge?
Yes, they drive a nicer van than me…but mine is paid off, and since theirs is brand new, I’m betting they are still paying for it every month.
Yes, my yard has beautiful flowers and lovely trees, but I bet they don’t have to spend HOURS working in their yard every weekend. They probably get to go out on dates instead.
Yes, I have the world’s most adorable children…but you do too, am I right?
Yes, my friend only weighs 90 pounds after four children, and I weigh…well, more than that. BUT…………….yeah, I’ve got nothin’. In this instance in my mental measurement…she always wins.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we do this comparing thing. I have hung out with some really wonderful single gals lately, and they all, at one time or another, have expressed sadness that they aren’t married. They want to find someone to love, and they want to have families. I remember feeling that way. I remember thinking that compared to that person with that life, I didn’t measure up.
BUT- there are days when having a husband has a downside. Usually its laundry day when I do 4 loads of just mine and my husband’s clothes, and when they are folded I realize I had FIVE articles of clothing in FOUR loads of laundry. Man would it ever be nice to do 2 loads of laundry A WEEK like I did when I was single, instead of the two loads per DAY  that accumulate now.
There are days when having four small kids has a downside. Like when I am CRAVING an afternoon at the mall…or I am desperate for another hour of sleep…or I really want to go to the bathroom ALONE.
The Lord has been speaking to my heart lately, subtly, whispering words that I have been having trouble hearing clearly. This comparison thing keeps spinning around in my spirit until I am DIZZY trying to grab hold of it and hear what He’s telling me. Today, I hope, the merry-go-round has slowed in my heart long enough for me to share what the Lord has been trying to say to me. Bear with me as I write while still spiritually whirling.
I am confident that if you are reading this you are familiar with the story of my sister, Joy, who died nearly 2 years ago. I have written about her, I have talked about her…probably more than most of you care to hear. I am not about to act like losing her isn’t the single hardest thing I have ever been faced with in my life. BUT compared to some of the stories of people I know, or have heard about, my loss is SMALL. And if those people can get up and go on with their lives, I can too. I should get over it, and move on, because I lose when I measure my pain against theirs.
But it doesn’t FEEL small. It feels like a grenade exploded in the MIDDLE of my family, leaving a gaping hole that is IMPOSSIBLE to patch. I compare my pain, my loss, to those of other people, and I know that it is small, I know that it isn’t the worst it could EVER be…but it still hurts. My heart doesn’t care that it loses in my mental measurement contest.
BUT WHY AM I MEASURING?????? That’s what the Lord keeps asking me. WHY am I holding my life, my feelings, my jeans size, my failures and successes, up against anyone else’s???
Who says a nicer van is NICER??? Who says it’s better to have a spotless house than a messy one? Who says it’s better to be married than single? Who says having kids is better than not having kids? Who says making more money is better? Who says being depressed is easier to deal with than burying a loved one? Who says burying a sibling is harder than having your heart broken???
Sometimes I bring my sadness, my anger, my fear, my…you fill in the blank…to the Lord, and I start by apologizing. “Lord, I know that you gave me these kids, and I thank you for them…but I WANT TO KILL THEM!” “Lord, I know that I have a good life, that You provide for me, and take care of me, and are with me…but I am depressed. I am stressed out. I am overwhelmed.” “God, I know it could be worse, I know there are lots of people out there who have it harder than me, BUT…”
Did the Lord ever ask me to compare myself to anyone else before bringing my pain to Him? Does He say anywhere in His word that “He is with those who have the hardest earthly lives.” ??? Well? Does He say that? Does He look down at my heart and your heart, and say “Well, she has four kids, and a messy house, and a beat up van, but her yard is nice. And SHE has a nice car, only two kids and a clean house, but her yard could use some work. Hmmm….who has a harder day? Who needs me to comfort them more? Who has suffered enough and deserves me to help them?”
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! Here’s what the WORD says. (Isaiah 43:2)
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” (depression, grief, a breakup, loneliness, waiting…and waiting…and waiting)
“When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” (DIFFICULTY!!!!! I have difficulty zipping some of my pants! But praise the Lord, it won’t cause me to drown!! ;) )
“When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not consume you.”
It doesn’t say what the fire is, or how big or small the blaze may be. God is not comparing! He says, “If you are struggling, I am here. WHEN you are going through something difficult, it won’t cause you to drown! When the flames come, when you are walking through the painful, burning, searing seasons of life…you won’t be consumed!”
That’s it. Period. No comparison. No judgment. No pep talk about how much harder it could be. No berating you about how much better off you would be if you would avoid the deep waters altogether. (because, let’s face it, sometimes our deep waters are our own fault…I know the hard to zip jeans are a direct result of my love for Snickers bars) He brings out the aloe plant and starts soothing our pain, no questions asked.
Our Savior, our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace…He hears our cries, He sees our pain, and that’s all He cares about! He comes running because you are hurting, not because your pain is worse than anyone else’s.
Resolution: I am going to STOP comparing myself to my adorable, TINY friend (because it’s not keeping me from eating the snickers bar, it’s just making me depressed after I eat it) I am going to enjoy my van because it gets me from here to there in comfort if not style. I am going to let me house be a LITTLE bit messier, because that’s happening whether I LET it or not, I am going to stop comparing my children’s behavior to any other kids.
I am going to choose to live this day, this life, these circumstances, with a new thought in my heart. “What can I learn about the Lord while I’m in this waiting pattern?” “What can I teach my kids about the Lord through this pain?” “How can I bring glory to THE LORD in this situation?”
The Lord doesn’t compare me to anyone else. He wants me to serve Him, and praise Him, and love Him, and follow Him, and lean on Him, and run to Him, and let Him shelter me (Psalm 91). Single or married, skinny or not, depressed or filled with joy, unemployed or vice president…stop comparing your life to someone else’s. Stop wishing you were in a different place, stop striving to get to whatever comes next, or wishing to go back to what was before.
JUST LIVE THIS DAY FOR HIS GLORY! HE IS WITH YOU WHERE YOU ARE! And there is NOTHING else that can compare to that!
“For I have learned in whatever circumstances…therein to be content.” Philippians 4:11b

1 comment:

  1. I'm just going to pretend for a minute that I'm the 90 pound friend. ......... Ahhh, that felt really good.