By: Amber Weston
We've all heard the saying; Comparison is a thief of joy. Though I know in my heart that this is true; the tendency to want more than I have, to compare myself and my achievements to other peoples' possessions and achievements, and to feel dissatisfied with my lot in certain areas of life, is an ongoing battle for me. I'll be cruising along, all sunshine, smiles, and gratefulness, then bam, I want what I don't have all over again.
At church last year, we had a series on exile. I found the following definition gripping: exile is when what should be, seems to be losing the battle to what is. In simpler words, exile is when life is not what we think it should be. I have lived this time and again.
As a little girl, I always pictured my life as an adult. I would have a ton of kids, a Chevrolet Suburban, and a beautiful house with a big backyard. As a grown woman, what I have is three kids, until very recently a Honda CRV, and an urban condo with no yard at all.
The discrepancy between what I want and what life is, has caused me to battle a lot of bitterness over the years. Does hating my condo make my life any better? No! Do I need a serious reality check from time to time, and a conviction to be grateful? Yes! Ultimately, if I confront my longing, I know better. I have so much more than lots of people do. There are millions of people in the world who would be so excited to live where I live. I'm sure that all of the people I pass each day at the city bus stop would be downright thrilled to have that CRV. There are women out there who are physically aching to be a mother, while I am so blessed to have three children.
I find that comparison and longing for what others have bleeds into my professional desires. I love to write, but when I am not instantly a bestselling author, then I start to compare my achievements to others. Comparing myself to others is only causing me pain. Comparison shuts me down and causes me to pull away from my work. Very few people are overnight successes, and I know this. #duh But the enemy seeks to make me feel small, and I fall for it over and over again when I let it go unchecked.
Unfortunately, like many women, I also play the comparison game when it comes to my physical self. I hate that I want to look different. I see everyone's best versions all around me, and I don't feel like I can keep up. On other days, when my hair falls in just the right wave, my makeup leaves me feeling fresh, and my muscles feel firm from a workout the day before; at those times, I feel on top of the world. But am I vocalizing that in the same way that I vocalize my negativity? Probably not. I can tell myself once that I look nice that day, but on the other has I tell myself a thousand times that I'm bloated. I lose again when I choose to compare.
Comparison is a thief of joy. Negative feelings breed more negative feelings. And there are six eyes on me all of the time. If your kids are like mine, and you never get a moment alone, our kids are watching us at all times. Comparison is not the legacy that I want to leave for my kids.
I recently read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp, which delves into the practice of thankfulness. Thankfulness is not automatic to us and must be exercised intentionally every day. Ann learns to be mindful of the beauty all around her by looking for things in the world to appreciate little things that might otherwise be ignored. The click of a seatbelt, the crackle in the fireplace, new toothbrushes, boys jiggling blue Jell-O. A practice I have taken to.
Colossians 3:17 says:
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (KJV)
Being thankful is the antidote to the comparison game. The one thing that I should be pressing myself on is being faithful in reading and applying God's word. I should live my life with a heart of gratitude. I should be thankful for everything, big and small.
Ultimately there has to be more than me praying, "Thank you for my blessings." My words and actions must align. I don't want to mislead my children about life's disappointments or sorrows, but I want to model a balance, steering away from the should's.
If I am using that word, I want them to hear this:
You should work hard to achieve your goals.
You should expect that you won't always get what you want.
You should try new things.
You should live your life thinking of how to bless others in word and deed.
You should be truly thankful for the life that you have.
I want to be the type of woman who travels the road to gratitude.
Amber is a wife and the mother of three little lovelies, living is sunny Southern California. Connect with her on her blog The Gilted Life or her Instagram!