“We spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. “
I heard this quote a few weeks ago at a church meeting and was amazed. Amazed that even though it is such a truth and so simple, I hadn’t realized it before. Amazed also at how it helped me to see what I had been doing to myself. Do we ever compare strengths to strengths and weaknesses to weaknesses? Not very often, if at all.
While my husband was in Iraq, my neighbor’s daughter went through a divorce and moved back in with her parents. She has two kids about the same age as my older boys. She is also beautiful, tall, skinny, and drove a Lexus. She always looked good. Even when I saw her on her way to/from the gym she looked great. I never once saw her driving her daughter to school in her pajamas or her kids looking frumpy.
On the other hand, I drove my son to school in pj’s almost everyday, weigh more than I’d like to, have boys who chose their own clothes that are usually too small, and drive a Ford. I felt less than her, like she was looking down on me. Never did she ever in any way do anything to make me feel this way. It was all my own insecurities and comparing my weaknesses to her strengths. She has now gotten remarried and moved out of her parents house. I still see her often and she is always as nice as ever. I’ve gotten over some of my issues and I always talk to her as much as I can when I see her. I’ve come to learn that we’re more alike than I ever could have imagined and that she is not nearly what I imagined her to be.
I think I missed a great opportunity to have a friend. We were both single parents at the same time and we could have helped each other out.
I have another neighbor down the street. She had 6 kids in 10 years, and wears “mom jeans”. She kind of reminds me of Michelle Duggar. I never would have admitted it and don’t think I consciously thought it, but deep down I thought I was better than her. Then I was asked to work with her in Cub Scouts. Turns out she is so organized, her house was always clean when I went there, and she did so much work behind the scenes. We would have Cub Scout planning meetings and I would show up and she had already planned everything out and just made sure it was okay with me and gave me an assignment. Her assignments she always had done a few days in advance and some of them took quite a bit of time.
I no longer feel like I’m better than her and I’m ashamed that I ever did. She is so ahead of me in so many ways but I didn’t see that before. I compared myself to what I saw, which was hardly any of what she has to offer.
I still struggle with comparing myself to others, maybe I always will. I’m glad that now I know that I’m not playing fair. I’m comparing strengths to weaknesses and now I realize what that does. Hopefully this realization is the first step on the path to being comparison free.
*You can read the full text of the talk here. I highly recommend it.