As you can see, I’m starting a new series. I don’t mean to be patronizing with my title…because all of us have areas where we need to “grow up” or mature. Each week, I’ll be sharing one area that has been helpful to me in the process of my “growing up” as an adult. They won’t be in order of priority.
At times, some of you will read these entries and wonder why I would waste my time writing something so basic. But I don’t assume anymore that people hear this information when they are growing up. I didn’t hear much of it when I was younger…at least not in a way that I “got” it. So here goes.
I look forward to your feedback in the comments section…or in emails via the contact link. Thanks.
Learn to Accept Yourself. It’s much Better than Comparing Yourself to Others.
Part of growing up or maturing as an adult, whether you are 12, 25, 42 or 66 is learning to stop comparing yourself to others. You know the saying about comparing apples to oranges? When you compare yourself with someone else, that is what you are doing.
The only thing we have in common is that we are human beings. We are made in GOD’s image.
You don’t see another person’s history, the truth of their marriage, the deep pains of their life, or the nature of their relationship with GOD, to name a few. You may have even grown up in the same family, but there are still a myriad of differences that play into who YOU are.
You were born at a different time in the life of your family, the stage of your parents’ marriage, the interplay or even the presence of siblings, to name a few of the differences. You also responded to events differently than some of your siblings. Just think of the differences that exist with people to whom you aren’t related!
Comparing Yourself to another Person: You Don’t Have all the Facts. You Can’t do it Accurately.
In the family where I grew up, I tended to respond quickly to punishment, which was often a spanking. Yes, I grew up in the 40′s and 50′s when spankings weren’t considered to be child abuse. Personally, I don’t like pain. I mean I REALLY don’t like pain!! I was usually crying before the first hit.
I would remember the pain of the last time I was punished and that was enough to keep me from doing that behavior. Since I figured I was most likely going to get caught, I usually didn’t take the chance that this pain would be repeated…because my assumption was that I would get caught!
Which goes to show that spankings really weren’t effective for me because they didn’t have an effect on my heart. I didn’t hate the fact that I had hurt someone or broken a moral law. I just hated the pain of the punishment!
However, I had a sibling, born near me…as were the 3 of us…all born within 3 years! This sibling had a philosophy that said, “I won’t show that this spanking is hurting me. I won’t give in.” Frankly, it is a way of thinking that I totally do not get! When this child was punished, there was no crying. I would hear spank, spank, spank. etc. By the time this child would cry, there was very real pain…occasionally a bruise! I’m guessing that spankings probably weren’t effective for her either…but for different reasons. They just added to resentment…and often involved extreme power struggles that never got resolved.
Is it any wonder that when this child grew up, she felt that our parents didn’t love her?…and despite many actions done by her to the contrary, their feeling was that she didn’t like them! How sad!
You can see that if/when either of us compared ourselves to the other, we would have been comparing apples and oranges! I was no better of a daughter than she. Often I didn’t think of many of the loving things she did, to show her love for my parents. But our childhood experiences affected our view of our family so that her experience of our family was considerably different from mine.
Comparison Interferes with Relationships
The same thing plays out all the time in relationships with other women particularly, at work, church, playground and school. We look at them. They look put together and we think, “She has her life all put together. She doesn’t need me for a friend. In fact, she probably doesn’t even like me. I look like a mess. I’m only a housewife. I’m overweight….”
The conversation to ourselves spirals down from there, just because another person fixed her hair and put on some matching clothes that day! I am here to tell you that I have met and gotten to know too many “well-put-together” women in my life to know that it is often a front to cover heartache and insecurity. It can also be the sign of a totally wonderful woman who would be a great friend.
My point is, DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. Particularly when you don’t know anything about them! Realize that you are just looking at the outside package. You know nothing about her heart.
It may often take courage, but be friendly to everyone. Ignore the outside package and persevere in friendship. You will find and get to know some wonderful people that you wouldn’t have known by playing the comparison game.
As a believer, you need to realize that GOD has a purpose for your life. He is growing and developing you. Are you willing to step out in courage and befriend people you wouldn’t ordinarily reach out to? They may be beautiful and well-dressed or homely, poor…or somewhere in-between. The important thing is that GOD uses you mutually to benefit each other.
The only way that can happen is for you to be friendly and make an effort to get to know people around you including those who are older, younger and very different! Make the effort to initiate conversations with people who are new to your church, on the outskirts and not yet incorporated, older than you, yet who have obviously walked with GOD for many years.
We Need to Learn to Be More Mutual in Our Relationships, not Competitive
You need them and they need you. Realize that you do some things better than they do and vice versa. Then go out and be the person GOD made you to be.
He has gifted you to do things for the Kingdom that are special. Do them and don’t worry about how the way you do it compares to someone else. Just do what you know GOD wants you to do.
One of my gifts is encouraging. I do it in a lot of different ways. Are there others who do it better? Probably. But they aren’t in contact with the people I am. I am put in the lives of specific people and am there to encourage and maybe exhort them too.
I need to do what GOD has given me to do…with abandon! It is up to GOD to deal with the results, to teach me better methods if needed, and use me with as many or few women…or men, as He wants.
The important thing is that I do it…often. The way I do it may be different from your way. That is fine. GOD needs all of us. When we work together and don’t compare and compete, His work will get done in a variety of ways and He will be glorified in the process.