I woke up in the sixes with this blog running through my head, and it wouldn't let me go back to sleep. So here I am, ready to spill my sinful guts. You might think less of me when you get done reading this. Just saying.
Confession: I make jealous comparisons. Frequently. Mostly of myself to other women.
So, to whom do I compare myself?
First and foremost, to women speakers and writers who've actually made it.
I'm reading a fabulous book right now. You should read it too. It's a book all about becoming the woman that God designed you to be and allowing Him to redeem your past and embrace the beauty He has given you. It's completely awesome and challenging and different than anything I've read.
But want to know my primary struggle in reading it? I wish I had written it.
Yep. Pathetic, right?
As a wanna-be writer, I compare myself to the other christian women authors/speakers who are already published and known. The ones who have gone ahead and already written the books that I want to write and do the speaking I want to do.
Earlier this spring I was reading a book that 's been on my shelf for 10 years. The author of the book now speaks at Women of Faith conferences (which I've never gone to but I've heard of her) so I thought it was due time I read her book. But as I was reading it and putting the puzzle pieces of her story together, I realized she was 32 when she was writing it. WHAT? I'm 34. She wrote that book at age 32 and it was published and she speaks at the most well known women conferences in the country. I want to do that. I got jealous. And I stopped reading the book..
For real. I'm serious. And I haven't even picked it back up again. (To be fair, the book was kind of soft and fluffy, and I'm not really into soft and fluffy.) But still, jealousy is what caused me to close the book. Pathetic.
You know who else I compare myself to? Runners.
I run, yes. Okay I jog. But it hurts my body. Today my alarm went off for me to run and my body just hurt too much. I stayed in bed. But my neighbor just ran a marathon last month. She's a working mother of three, and yet she trained for and completed a marathon. My aunt who is 60 runs many half-marathons every year...she travels all over and runs like crazy. She's 60. But my 34-year-old body was too sore this morning for my menial 3-mile jog. And it makes me a bit jealous.
You know who else I compare myself to? Women whose houses and faces always look put together.
I have this facebook acquaintance who, in every single picture she posts on facebook, looks like a supermodel. In her pics I can see that she is gorgeous, but also that she has amazing clothes and a large, clean, well decorated house, and she appears to shower and apply make-up every day. And she also is a stay-at-home mom. How does she do that? Why can't my hair and my house look like that?
Now I should pause here and say that some of you I'm writing about, if you've figured out who you are, read this blog.
I'm sorry for being jealous of you.
Now, carrying on.
You know who else I compare myself to? Everyone in our neighborhood who has landscaping done. Which is pretty much every house. Except ours.
We live in a nice home in a nice neighborhood. The home itself is a stretch for us on a single income. So the "curbing" and the shrubs and trees and rocks and sprinkler system...yeah..not happening. Yesterday on my run (jog) I started getting jealous of the yards I was running by. But then God whispered to me to pay attention and count how many of those homes were doing it on one income...not many. Some, but not many.
So I got over it. But some days it's hard.
You know who else I compare myself to? Calm women.
I'm not calm. I'm loud and boisterous and opinionated and easily crabby and I have a tendency to dominate conversations and yell. (Shocking, right?).
But I love being around women who are calm. Peaceful. Serene. Serenity in a woman captivates me. I compare myself to that woman, and I wish I was more like her.
You know who else I compare myself to? Families with savings accounts.
Oh we have a small college fund going that will currently pay for one semester of one child's college, but many of you have actual savings accounts...and even "emergency funds." We used to, but then life happened and now we don't. And you take your kids to Disney World. And I compare myself to you because we take our kids to places like the Sioux Falls waterfalls and we call it vacation (and to be fair, our kids love it). But I compare myself to you. I'm sorry.
You know who else I compare myself to? Women with bigger families.
Now, I love my kids and my husband more than life itself and by no means do I want anyone else's family. But sometimes I want a bigger family. I want five kids like my close girlfriend who does it so well. But for reasons beyond our control a fifth pregnancy would be very high-risk for me so we've heeded caution and called it quits. But sometimes, mother of five or six, I compare myself to you. I'm sorry.
So there you have it. Have I said too much? Do you think I'm completely pathetic now? It's okay if you do.
It's no wonder that God made "You shall not covet" one of the Ten Commandments. He knew what a battle this would be, to be content with the story of our own lives.
And, my life is awesome. I live a dream life, really. My husband rocks. My kids rock. I get to stay home with them. Yesterday, I took a sunny nap on my lawn chair in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, and last night my husband shared a bottle of wine with me on that same lawn chair. I live in a big house and have everything I need and pretty much everything I want. There is absolutely no good reason for me to compare myself to anyone.
Except sin. It's straight up sin.
We have an enemy who wants so much to make us discontent with the story God has given to each one of us. This enemy wants our jealousy over each others' lives to cause dissension and conflict between us. And this enemy is an expert at making that happen.
But God really does have a beautiful story for each one of us. And even though I wasn't published at 32, and I'm not yet at 34, and maybe I won't be at 36, I'm dreaming and I'm not throwing in the towel. And even though running hurts my body and I certainly don't see a marathon in my future, I'm at least staying fit. And even though we may never have landscaping, we have pretty flowers. And even though another pregnancy wouldn't be safe for me, I have four kids who rock my entire world. And even though we won't go to Disney World, it's okay because crowds give me anxiety and then I would start yelling at my kids. The waterfalls are better for me. And even though serenity may never be a quality I possess, I think perhaps, step by step, I might actually be calming down a little. And baby steps are okay.
So who do you compare yourself to? Name it, admit it, call it sin, bring it to God, and let Him show you the beauty of your own story. Because your story is fantastic, you know. Significant. Your story is created by God just for you.
No, your story isn't like your neighbor's, that's true.
But it's your story. And it's good.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.