Comparing Apples to Oranges?


Photo courtesy of carilionclinic.org.

It’s hard, as adults, to avoid comparing ourselves. As children, at least in America, we are raised on “excellence.” In the classroom and in sports or other competitive activities. We are expected to be the best, although we can’t all do that!

And we mature into adults who want to be smarter, more successful, richer, and better-looking than our counterparts. It’s a never-ending story and it doesn’t just affect women; it’s just that men and women tend to compete in different ways as a general rule.

For example, when two dads get together, there may be some bragging on both sides as they compare children, but there isn’t the same need for one child to be better at something than the other; there is no need to be better as a dad than the other man. Yes, those thoughts may cross the two men’s minds, but, as most men deal with sports, they will leave it on the field.

Photo courtesy of mommyish.com.

Not so with women! With moms, there is a constant competition; which child develops the fastest, which child goes to the best school; which child is more creative or pretty or handsome or excels in some way. Add to that several other children in a group of friends or club or some such thing, and it can get kind of crazy!

In a book called Straight Talk, Joyce Meyer wrote that if we don’t get that God has a plan, an individual one, for our lives, then we will always compare ourselves to others and think we’re doing something wrong because we don’t have what they have.

Yep, pretty much! I feel that way a lot. I see other couples who seem to have it all together, as my small group discussed last night, and I feel ashamed because my husband and I have a sometimes problematic relationship. We love each other very much, but we came into this marriage with some obvious flaws that make it hard to deal with each other sometimes. We are totally committed to each other, and stubborn enough to make it work! I have no doubts about that. But other couples make it look so easy. And yet, as we learned last night, that ‘s not true at all! It’s just that we all tend to hide these things about ourselves. All marriages have troubles. All marriages are problematic at times! I have discovered that it’s the people who seem to be the most perfect who are, I’d say 70 percent of the time, the most screwed up.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com.

God has different plans for our lives. I, for one, love to sing. And yet I have a terrible singing voice! I was born into a family of creative, musical types, and I have NONE of that! My sisters play the piano, my mothers plays and also sings very well, and my father and brother can both sing. I sound like a frog is stuck in my throat! And I cannot play the piano as I despised lessons as a child. I desperately want to sing like an angel. It will never happen. If we all have to belong to the heavenly choir they will probably have me doing props or holding music sheets or some such thing.

I used to think my one skill that differentiated me from my family members was writing. Finally! Something I have they don’t! Oh, the agony. Oh, the disappointment, when I discovered my oldest sister can write. Better than I! She’s funny, too! My choleric, type-A, bossy older sister has, horror of HORRORS, another gift! Isn’t it enough that she could cook a (four-star? five-star? whichever one is the best) meal out of shoe leather and string? Decorate a house the way I never could? Have perfect taste in style and clothing? Mix patterns and colors like a pro? Have hair that is ALWAYS perfectly coiffed? Ugh. It’s enough to make me cry.

But I have accepted her latest accomplishment. She’s good at it. And, it is apparently NOT in God’s plan that I have one single talent no one else in my family shares. Oh well! That, I suppose, is just life. There will be other moms out there who have had two kids and still  look like they did when they were a teenager. I just might carry this extra, despised weight for the rest of my life.  I know I’ll probably keep the stretch marks from my second pregnancy that I somehow escaped without having from the first.

Gracious, we go through this in so many ways! But in the grand scheme of things, we know how silly and wasteful it is to be jealous of what other people have that we don’t. It’s crucial to remember that they may look at us with the same green-eyed monster. Even supermodels hate something about their bodies!

Instead, why don’t we learn to be grateful for whatever gifts God gave us? Even if someone else does it better, who cares? It’s not important to be excellent about anything but living a godly life. And even that may be different for some than others!

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