If we're being honest with ourselves, part of our problem, especially when it comes to appearance and the way we look, is the issue of comparison.
I touched on it quickly last week, but man. Comparison stretches over so much of our lives- from hair to houses, from jobs to jam-making... there's always someone who is doing something, being something, living something that you'd like to.
We point to things that rob us of joy- the mom who threw the elaborate party for her five-year-old, the couple with the impeccably perfect wedding pictures, Pinterest- and we blame them for the discontent in our lives.
"If it weren't for Pinterest..." we say.
If it weren't for Pinterest, what? We'd still find ways to measure ourselves against the people around us. It's what we do.
Of course, just like so many conflicts, the trouble with comparison is that it lies in our own hearts.
I'll be honest with you- back when I was a single gal, I compared myself to the women in relationships. How come she found someone, and I didn't, yet? What was so wrong with me? My dress size, my nose, my personality?
Of course, that led to a host of problems, including trying to be someone I'm not.
A little further down the road, I was dating a guy. A healthy, good relationship. Like I wanted. But instead of being filled with joy, instead of being content, I looked at the engaged couples. Tried to measure up to the girl who had that fabulous title- "fiancee."
When I was engaged? I compared myself to the married women. And now that I'm married? I'm fighting the battle against comparison to those who are blessed as mothers.
Where I am is never enough.
I think part of that can be good- it helps drive us forward, helps us keep moving, improving. Progressing.
But it also makes me feel as though my life isn't enough just the way it is.
As Ann Voskamp points out in her One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are,
Nothing. That means that instead of looking forward three years, we focus on this moment. On the joys now. The blessings now.
It doesn't do us any good to compare ourselves with other people. They're not living our lives. And most of the time, we only see the highlight reel, anyways*.
When we're focused on the blessings in our own lives, when we respond to life with an attitude of thanksgiving, we find joy in where we are. Right now. In the life we're living now. In who we are now.
I went to a seminar recently, and Jennifer Dukes Lee was the speaker.
One thing she said really stuck out to me-
"God is saying to you, 'I didn't ask you to be her. I asked you to be you.'"How true!
I think I need to remind myself, continually, of this fact. Because sometimes, I look at myself and think, "But.... are you sure, God? You really want me to be me?"
And more so, I need to remind myself that this is true about my relationships, too-
God says, "I didn't ask you to have a life like hers. Your path is different, and that's okay."
God's plan is the right plan, and He knows what He's doing.
It's not my job to plan exactly how my future is supposed to go (although that's hard for me to step away from!).
My role is to trust, to find contentment and joy, and to believe that God's plan is best for me.
Even if it looks different from her plan.
*That couple who posted pictures of their perfect weekend with the perfect lighting and the holding hands? Maybe they had an argument right before. Maybe they haven't seen each other in months. You don't know. Because they're not you.
If you'd like to see more posts in this series, I'd invite you to go ahead and follow me on Facebook, or stay tuned- I'm working on putting all the posts in this series together so they're easier to find. Thanks!