by: Staci Stallings
Competing with one another is bad enough, and if Carolina and I haven’t convinced you to stop comparing yourself yet, then I think it’s time to introduce you to my other friends (names have been changed to protect the innocent).
Witness, please, what extreme hypercompetition will do to you if you buy into that system:
Josey is an incredible mother. She is always, and I mean ALWAYS with her kids. She takes them to the zoo and the museum. They go on actual, planned family trips to places like DisneyLand and the Grand Canyon. Josey is always full of energy and fun. She volunteers at the kids’ school and even substitute teaches if they need her to. She’s on the school board. She runs one of the main school fundraisers. She even hands out popcorn and pickles on fun days, and if there is a fun day scheduled at school, she will be there for set up, run two booths, fill in for a parent who forgot to show up, take down, and then take her kids out for a fun lunch just because.
Then there’s Susy. Susy is a model housekeeper. When you go to her house, I don’t care what time of day or what day of the week, everything is SPOTLESS. I think the dust-bunnies from her house migrated to mine because frankly, they wouldn’t survive long at her house. Susy has amazing parties that everyone just raves about. Four course meals that she prepares herself–including the perfect wine and appetizers. There is never a toy on the floor or a stain on the carpet. She dresses to the nines all the time–high heels, perfect suit dress, and her nails? I would kill for those nails!
On the other side of my life is Daphne. Daphne has two daughters who are just show stoppers, and always have been. Those two come to church, and there is not a thread out of place–not a ONE! They each have bows in their hair that never come out or even move. Perfect dresses. Perfectly done up hair (braids to go with the bows!). I mean… WOW! In fact, when they walk into church on any given Sunday morning, you would not believe the whole family is not headed out right afterward to get formal family pictures done. Even her husband color-coordinates! (This is not a lie. He really does!)
Then there’s Loraine. She works at the school, has three active kids in middle-through-high school. She makes every single game and performance. She’s in community organizations that help bring food for funerals, and she’s very active in those. Working, kids, community, church… I don’t know how she has time for half of what she does, and she always, ALWAYS has a smile! She’s so helpful and kind to everyone.
Now let’s look at me for a moment…
I just went to sign some papers at a business office, and I look like I’m in my pajamas. I have one, thin layer of make-up on, and I was grateful I remembered to run a brush through my hair before I went. My son just had to make his own breakfast because I don’t have time with the packing and getting ready for the weekend. My oldest daughter asked last night what she should wear for Easter (at 10:30 and she was leaving at 8 this morning… not good if you’re going to try to shop for something). My husband will come home, pack, and probably have to iron his own dress shirt Sunday morning. My kitchen needs cleaned. There are clothes to be washed in the laundry room. My middle daughter will be travelling to participate in the regional track competition, and someone just asked me if we are going. I hadn’t even thought about it, and now I’m wondering how in the world we would even get that done. We did make it to church last night. No one matched, and if we tried to take family pictures, that would have been a frightening picture to behold!
That’s why, I guess, I’m so incredibly grateful that God stepped into my life in a powerful way… because when I was in the midst of extreme hypercompetition that the world says I’m supposed to be in, I was losing… BADLY!!!!
What I’ve come to realize is that all of those “rosey” pictures of my friends are not even real. They each have hypercompetitions of their own going on, and they feel like failures too! Who knew, right?
Illness, wayward children, marriage issues, God issues. Yep, none are as perfect as they seem from the outside.
That’s why, I am learning to stop comparing! I’m on my own journey with God, and they are on theirs. This is not a competition, it’s a string of lessons perfectly laid out for each of us.
I should also mention a truly demented way that extreme hypercompetition snakes its way into our lives — competing about our wounds.
If someone mentions they’ve lost someone to death, I am tempted to share my wounds or at least to compare my life wounds to theirs. ”What do I have to be sad about, she just lost her mother?” ”Well, she might have lost her dog, but she doesn’t know what real pain is like.”
Ever done that? Ever caught yourself comparing your pain with someone else’s?
Here’s a tip: There is no comparison! Better or worse. All pain hurts. Instead of comparison, try compassion for a change. You might be surprised at the outcome.
Oh, and if you’ve noticed a correlation between the extreme hypercompetition I wrote about above and those television shows about back-biting “friends,” that’s no coincidence. Those shows are a picture of the world–of Man’s Math.
But we’ll leave that topic for next time.