If only…(learning to embrace my “whatever”)

grass is greener

Content: 1. Being in a state of peaceful happiness or satisfaction.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need…” (Philippians 4:11-13)

“God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well…so let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” (Romans 12:6)

I have been slowly reading Karen Ehman’s book “Let.It.Go.” as part of Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor and as I finished reading Chapter 10 today it hit me that the one thing I need to “let go” is comparisons. I also need to learn the secret of how to be content in all circumstances and stop comparing myself to others and trying to be someone I’m not meant to be.

For years I have played the “if only” game where I have constantly longed to “keep up with the Joneses” by looking over the fence at their perfect green lawn. In fact just this morning as I was running with my (old!) high school friend Simone, we were talking about an upcoming school reunion and she asked me whether I intended to attend. I laughed and replied “no way!” You see, for years, comparisons have set me up for a pattern of disappointment because all I do is try to attain for myself a replica of someone else’s seemingly wonderful and perfect life. And I know that if I attend that school reunion I’ll compare myself with “her”. Mrs Jones. With her manicure (and probably pedicure as well) and her perfect hair. With her skinny figure and expensive clothes. With her European car.

And the comparison game will begin…

She’s thinner than me. She’s a better runner than me. She’s prettier. She wears a bigger diamond ring than me. She writes blog posts better than me. She has more friends. She has a bigger house. She drives a nicer car. She’s better at making people feel welcome in her home. She’s a better cook. She’s a more devoted wife. She’s more organised than me. She has more children. She’s smarter. She’s a better nurse. She prays more. She has a better sense of style. She has a better paid job. She knows her Bible better. She’s more ‘present’ for her children (she even attends every sporting event). She has a better relationship with her mother (and with her mother-in-law) than me. She has nicer clothes.

And this all translates as: She is better than me.

Hot on the heels of the comparison game comes the “If Only” list…

If only I had her looks…

If only I drove a car like hers…

If only I was more organised like her…

If only I had her brains…

If only I had her money…

If only I lived in her house…

If only…

Compare. Compare. Compare.

I know that all I’m actually doing is comparing my reality with my perception of her reality!

Yet I still do it.

I compare what I consider to be my boring and familiar life with someone elses’ seemingly breathtakingly fabulous life! I know deep down that no-one has a perfect life, yet here I am, middle-aged, and still trying to catch up with the Joneses. Just thinking about it now makes me realise I am on a never-ending run on the treadmill of dissatisfaction. Because, as Karen Ehman says, “comparisons cause a deathblow to contentment”.

So, why don’t I compare myself to the Smiths? Because they live in a smaller house and it’s not in the best suburb. They drive older cars. They don’t have expensive holidays. They buy their clothes at the op shop. They don’t seem quite as “perfect” as the Joneses. Surely they can’t possibly be “content”?

So it’s time I fix my eyes firmly on God, not on the Smiths and certainly not on the Joneses! It’s time I take my eyes off my circumstances and the “if onlys” and embrace what God has given (blessed me with) now. Life. And life in abundance. An overflowing cup. It’s time to be thankful for the “whatever” circumstances I’m in right now. It’s time I accept my “whatever” looks and body shape. It’s time to be grateful for my “whatever” income level. For my “whatever” family. It’s time I accept my “whatever” life. And give God praise.

The Bible says: “Carefully scrutinize and pay attention to your own work or conduct and examine your own actions. Then you can take pride and personal satisfaction in your own accomplishments. You will get the satisfaction and joy of a job ‘well done’ and of doing something commendable without needing to compare yourself with anyone else.” Galatians 6:4

I love how the Message translation puts it: “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

The “secret” to contentment is an easy one: stop comparing yourself to others.

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14 thoughts on “If only…(learning to embrace my “whatever”)

  1. Good one! So jealous that u blog better than me. Oh wait….guess I can’t do that comparison (since I don’t have one yet). Love u!

  2. As always, your words and point are poetic, Nikki! This is so true and something I struggle with often! Have you ever heard the saying that the ‘Grass is always greener where you water it?’ Your posting reminded me of this saying…loved it!! Thanks for the realness and the fact of knowing that I’m not alone! This week, I shared my thoughts (& God winks) on ‘waiting’. 🙂

  3. Hey Nicki,
    Between comparisons and worrying in – how do I find time for God? That’s where my mind seems to be going lately.
    But when I pull out the Psalms and read what David says God will do, has done, is doing, my mind settles. Nothing in my life is “perfect” but it is perfectly where God wants me to be. And I will thank Him and bless Him for it and all He has blessed me with daily. Thank you so much for the reminder.
    Always a poignant blog and wonderfully written.

    Love you bunches,
    Catherine

  4. Thanks for including the Message translation of Gal 6:4. Sink yourself into it… that is beautiful in that translation, and also a reminder to let God’s word sink in. When we speak His truth, allowing it to sink in, all those comparisons have to leave.
    I’m glad I’m not alone in comparing… and really, don’t we all? I’m striving to try to learn to be content in whatever… but how difficult it is proving to be. Probably because I still haven’t learned to let it go.
    Thank you for sharing today! God bless!

  5. Great post! I love how you mentioned that we only compete with the Joneses, but not with the Smiths. The truth is, we should love and respect everyone, whether or not they appear to be better or worse than us. I’ve met many “Smiths” who are more than content with their lives, and that’s enviable! God has a plan for each and every one of us and in contentment, we can find unity in the body of Christ.

  6. Oh, what a blessing your blogs are to me! I feel strongly convicted by the admonition to figure out who I am and what I’ve been given to do so that I can experience satisfaction. It’s so tempting to just wish that I could achieve my dreams without the effort, but that’s as empty as wishing I could have my neighbor’s yard! Guess it’s time to buckle down and get to work on my own heart and God-given tasks.

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