Thursday, March 8, 2012

Comparing Yourself with Others

Growing up I loved to compete with my friends. In fact, we created a "holiday" called All Sports Day, where we got up at 5:00am to play golf, then proceeded to play football, tennis, basketball, and badminton (along with a handful of other "sports") until it got dark. Then we'd play "Ghost in the Graveyard" and Poker until 2 or 3 in the morning.

We kept score for everything. And the competition between my friends and I was fierce.

This was all in fun, but competition is one of those interesting parts of human nature. At our core is an innate desire to compare and compete with one another. Sometimes this is a good thing. Competition can bring out the best in us as we try to prove that our ideas, our teams, our companies are worth The Prize (whatever that prize happens to be.)

The problem is, we carry this “healthy” competition into comparing our lives with the lives of others.  So we look at a rich friend and feel envious or jealous.  We might look at another person’s wife, husband, car, kids, house, TV and think, “Wow. I wish I had that.”

But we also compare ourselves when it comes to health problems.

We just do this in the opposite direction.  We have a tendency to look down on people who aren’t struggling as much as we are, our kids are, or our families.  There were moments with Eli when someone well meaning said, “well this is for his good.”  Or, “God doesn’t give us anything more than we can handle.”

Those may both be 100% true.  And I was grateful to have someone who was trying to encourage me, because I needed it!  But there was a part of me that was angry.  A part of me that thought, “What the Hell do you know?!  You’re kid came out fine!  You know nothing of our struggles!”

It’s shocking how fast we can put on the cloak of arrogance and judgment. 

While I’ve learned so much from dealing with Eli’s medical conditions, one of the biggest lessons has been perspective.  No matter how bad things were with Eli at their darkest, it could always have been worse.  And it still can be.  Just because we made it through clubfeet, Down syndrome, and kidney failure doesn’t mean we’ll make it through cancer, accidents, or acne.

God has really opened up my eyes so that I’ve seen just how bad things are for some people.  This perspective makes work stress seem like a joke.   It makes getting stuck in traffic seem like a joy!  It makes life more fun, because every moment of every day, I have something to celebrate.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m still fallen just as you are.   I’m still prone to arrogance, jealousy, and a bad temper. Especially at 3 am when Eli won’t sleep.  So I’m not always Mr. Happy Go Lucky.  But I’m not so quick to judge others who haven’t “suffered as much” as I have.  Because it could be worse, and to some, I know nothing of suffering.

Now who want's to play some badminton?

image provided by flickr user dee'lite

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