Ever felt the urge to compare your body to someone else’s? Or wonder why some things come so easy to other people while you have to struggle through the same problems every day? Or why you weren’t given the talents or gifts of someone who seems to just naturally succeed at life?
Making comparisons is a common past-time. The media is often blamed – and rightly so – for the pressure it places on young women to look a certain way. Even churches, which should be places of acceptance and freedom to be who God has gifted you to be – can become competitive too. Not in terms of looks necessarily, but sometimes over how much work you’re doing for the church, or how committed you are, or sadly, how vocal or politically astute you are… And some youth groups can be more intimidating than high school, with the pressure to fit a certain mould. I guess churches are run by human beings after all – so it isn’t that much of a shock. It’s hardly ideal however, and thankfully there are many churches that aren’t like this. It’s well worth finding one that’s full of grace, love and acceptance of who you are and what you have to offer.
I think Facebook can be a breeding ground for competition and comparisons too – after all, it’s also populated by humans. Had a bad day? Well log on and witness how many women have had breakfast in bed served by their fabulous husband when you’ve just gone through a separation… or observe photos of all these gorgeous newborns when you’ve been trying for a baby for years… And it’s really not the fault of the person posting the pics or the glowing comments – most of the time they’re just sharing good news. But because human nature is to compare ourselves to others, observing it can be quite depressing…
I like this quote I saw on Facebook once: “One reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel.” (Grace Marshall). Facebook is a truckload of highlight reels. Of course if you knew the behind-the-scenes of every smiling image, you would find the girl on your friends list would probably have just as many insecurities, low moments in the space of a day, and silent struggles, as you.
One of the challenges my husband and I have faced in recent years is raising a son who is quite intense, and often visibly burdened by his frustrations. He takes life seriously, can be very argumentative, and is quite beholden to routines, preferences and rituals that many other children (or so it seems) aren’t. He can be quite fragile emotionally, especially in social situations. I have many times questioned what we could’ve done – or should do differently. And if there is something to diagnose, we don’t know what it is yet. Lots of speculation at this stage, nothing official. I sometimes struggle when I see other mums’ kids socialising well, and am tempted to assume their family must have it so much easier. But of course, when I think this way I’m not seeing the whole picture. We’re all struggling with something, at some time.
I guess whatever we’re facing, or dissatisfied with, it’s so reassuring to know we have a God who has mapped out our life from the beginning. He knew what struggles would be unique to us – and has a plan and a purpose for each of our experiences, good and bad. The beautiful thing is that no one is going to be better at dealing with my set of problems than me. Not that it’s that easy to tell myself this when parenting has reached a new low – or when something else has crashed down around me. But I am equipped. With God, I have what it takes to get through. And if I don’t already have the tools and skills needed to face my daily dilemmas, then I will by the end of it all! I am a work in progress, and I’m being moulded by each new thing that comes my way. Best of all, I have a loving, comforting Heavenly Father who knows exactly what I need at all times.
Not that it isn’t still tempting to play the comparison game. But when I remember that God’s ways are higher than mine, his intentions towards me are only good, and he is with me all the way – then I find the strength to keep pushing through and meeting each new day with confidence, boldness and wisdom… He is more than enough for me!