If I try hard enough, spend enough mental energy and emotion, I can fully convince myself that most of the people around me have it better than I do.
As I sit at Panera, I observe and consider the trailings that my mind goes on.
Comparison Example #1: “Wow, look at her over there. All dressed to the nine in business attire, having all kinds of important conversations with that important looking person. I wonder what it would like to dress that nice and be that important. Clearly they have it better than I do.”
Example #2: “Aw look at the mother over there, eating lunch with all her kids. She looks so happy and perfect at Mommying. I should probably be here with my kids too instead of sitting here drinking my dark roast alone. Clearly she is way better than I am.”
Example #3: “I’m not necessarily trying to listen in to their conversation, but I just happen to be able to hear every word. They went to Spain? Miami too?? Look at them, all traveling around the world. Sheesh. Clearly they have it made.”
Example #4: “Look at that cute couple over there. All gooing over eachother and eating a long lunch together. They are probably my age and are waiting to have kids. I wonder what that life would have looked like. Putting money in the bank by the drolls and just cuddling all the time just the two of them. I wonder if we did the right thing by starting to have kids so young? Clearly they are much more savvy at life planning than we are.”
See? Whats wrong with me? Why is it that I always end up at the bottom of the rung. Boistering up and imagining that everyone is more together, perfect, happy, and way cooler than I am? Why is that?
I take my eyes off the prize, thats why. My eyes get distracted and my spirit forgets that I have been called to be me and only me. To be God’s daughter, the one and only Maria Christine Furlough there is.
And then, this…
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Truths learned are not necessarily forgotten or unlearned, I think I just need to be re-reminded of them every now and again. Its true, it is easy (so easy) for me to compare and contrast and analyze the lives of everyone around me. To cast judgement and to decide “why me?” And its human, natural, and tempting. But I am thankful for a gracious God. One whom gently, so gently pulls me back in and reminds me “Not so my sweet girl. Not so. Remember…you have learned the secret of being content haven’t you?”
Yes God, yes I have. Thank you for pulling my eyes back in, where they need to be focused. I even have a 8 step process for my contentedness. This is for my own use of course but my prayer is that maybe, just maybe, it might help you today too.
- PAY ATTENTION! Not to them, to ME (this is Jesus talking of course).
- Reflect. What are the things in MY life that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely?
- Be thankful. That list you just made on #2, why don’t you thank me for them (Jesus again of course).
- Focus on now. What are you doing right now? With my hands and my feet, focus for a second on what I am actually supposed to be doing.
- Get out of my head. Take a second, take a deep breath, and STOP thinking.
- One Step at A Time. I don’t need to be faithful in all my future moments, I just need to be faithful right now.
- Today. What has God given me to do today? Just today.
- Pray. Most of the time I pray for strength. Most of the time its just a few words of prayer. Sometimes its just three words, “Help me Jesus.”
Even as I wrote I went through the steps and I feel better already now. Panera even looks different.
Comparison Example #1: “Business lady dressed to the nine…I bet she works really hard. I bet that she carries a lot on her shoulders and can’t be easy to get dressed and ready and have to be on every single day. A quick whisper prayer for her “Lord, give her the strength she needs to set about her work today. Amen.”
Example #2: “Picture perfect looking Mommy lady…I know better. I know that being a Mommy is hard, always hard and that even when it looks like everything is put together usually we are only moments from coming apart. A quick whisper prayer for her “Lord, multiply her sweet peaceful moments with her kiddos. Bless her as she takes care of them, may she know she is a good Mommy.”
Example #3: “Travelling around the world people…hm well, honestly they kind of look the same. Getting to travel around the world still looks pretty awesome, however, can I not simply be happy for them? Grateful for them that they are getting to experience the world in all its splendor? A quick whisper prayer for them “Lord, thank you that you have made the world in such a way that we crave to see every nook and cranny. Bless them as they travel, be their safety and guide.”
Example #4: “Cute couple…I made a bold assumption before. Assuming they are my age with no kiddos was actually their top choice. Maybe it wasn’t or maybe it was, either way I know that neither path is easy. Having kids young, not being able to have kids, waiting to have kids all these roads are challenging ones and God creates us all uniquely for our very own journey. A quick whisper prayer for them, “Father, whatever be your plan for them, would you let them to know you are with them. Strengthen their marriage and bless them as they go.”
All my examples above look different now. I can look around and see those people as, well, people. Not charicatures I have created in my mind to make myself feel worse about myself. Not fantasies of lives that aren’t real. Instead I see them as people. Just like me. Flawed and hurt and struggling through this life just the way I do. Freed from my own brain I can even look around a little now and pray for them. I am sure they need prayer, I know I always do.
Thank you God, that there is no one whose life is better or worse than mine is. Only different. May my perspective be kept so, so that I can best live the the life you have given me to lead and best love others through the life you have given to them.