Comparing ourselves to others – this is something I’m beginning to think should only be done in literary form or story telling. Allegories, metaphors and similes are all great usages of comparison that help us understand a scenario, character or circumstance. But in daily life, comparing ourselves and our lives to other’s lives usually only leads to discontent and beliefs that don’t mesh with real life.
At times, I have caught myself thinking how I wish my life was like someone else’s or thinking I was lucky because I didn’t have a struggle someone else had. Neither of these thoughts is healthy or even true.
Seeing the Truth
We have no idea what is fully going on in anyone’s life. Some people wear masks through the hard times by putting on a brave face while others fully express their pain through it all. Some wear masks almost all the time, others only occasionally, but we are never sure if what we are seeing is reality. Yet, we can take what we believe to be true about others to tear ourselves down or make us feel much more important than we are.
We may look at someone and imagine that their life is perfect. We see the beautiful family with the big house and amazing kids. However, if we see behind the closed doors, we’d see a woman struggling with addiction, a man who is verbally abusive and kids that cower in their rooms hoping that their parents will not turn their attention on them, while also yearning for their love.
We can see a family with a child who has a disability or a woman battling and beating breast cancer for a second time and compare our lives to theirs thinking that we are fortunate because we haven’t had to endure these hardships. But what we don’t think about or understand is that the family with the disabled child may, instead, feel so blessed to have this child in their lives because her smile lights up the room and her favorite activity is giving and receiving hugs. And they don’t see that the woman who had cancer feels she is fortunate to have the opportunity to tell others how God has walked with her through it all while she has been blessed to experience the love, support and care of those around her. She also has experienced the renewed joy of living after beating the cancer twice.
When we experience life through comparisons, we miss not only our lives but also the opportunities to walk through life with others. When we make assumptions about others, we never get to really know them. We may even convince ourselves that the other person wouldn’t want to spend time with us when what they need more than anything is a friend.
In reality, we all encounter heartache and pain, joy and fulfillment, hope and sorrow throughout our lives. Sometimes the pain is so deep, we wonder if we can make it through the day. Then, again, we also have days where we’ve laughed so hard our stomachs hurt.
When we compare ourselves to others, we cease to live authentically. When we don’t live authentically, we don’t show up for our lives and we aren’t there to help others. Comparing ourselves to others robs us from all we have to experience and robs others from our speaking into their lives and walking alongside them. We can’t be who we were made to be and do what we were made to do when we are always looking at the reflection cast by others.
~ Joanna Lynn