This one goes out to all you beautiful readers. Yes, that includes, you, too! The doubting one. The young and the old. Do you know that you were made in the image of God? Even if you’re just half the nature lover I am, then you’ll have to admit: God is the synonym for beauty. Have you ever looked at a flower? In detail? In taking your time to actually marvel at it?
Those of you who know me may have recognised there’s almost always a fresh bouquet of flowers on the dining table at our house. Why? Well, because for me flowers stand for the beauty that our Creator bestowed upon us when He made this planet. I mean, come on, have you watched a butterfly lately? My son caught one the other day. The poor critter didn’t survive the vivacious love my little one had for him. Together, we looked at the splendour and detail in this one little created being. How much more should we marvel at ourselves and each other?
My last blog text was about self-care. Self-love. Saying no to things or people and setting healthy boundaries, firm and friendly. I knew I wanted this topic to be continued in the next entry. For many days I pondered on how to do just that. Honestly, there seems to be a divine pattern here regarding confirmation of my blog topics. Why? Well, in praying for the next headline of my text I had written three words on an index card:
Do not compare!
Then, several friends left messages or we would talk on the phone about the utter importance of not comparing our lives and decisions to anyone else’s.
So, with this I’m sharing one more of our very own “family ten commandments”. It’s not like I’ve counted them already. But since I shared one last time (“No is a complete sentence.”), maybe I’ll just start a tradition here.
Before we had kids, my husband and I had already established certain standards for our relationship. For that, we had spent endless hours “walk and talk” back when we were dating. We shared our hearts with each other. And it didn’t take long for us to realise we had to break through some of these existing mindsets stemming from our upbringing.
“Do not compare” was a rule that took some time to be planted firmly. We would oftentimes find ourselves comparing us to another couple, for example. Especially when having a fierce discussion, it seemed to come in handy to pull this or that person out of the hat and compare them our situation. However, what felt right at first, turned out to not be helpful at all. Because either one of us always lost.
Rest assured, we still fall into that trap sometimes. But I promise you with a smirk, it is dealt with immediately. I’m grateful we don’t cut each other any slack in regards to this issue. No grey area allowed.
Teach them young
Thankfully, by the time we had children in the house, this standard had grown deep roots. Both of our kids are being raised knowing that comparing is toxic for the soul. This sounds drastic, doesn’t it? But it’s not. I invite you to take a closer look and throw in some honesty.
Comparison robs you of your time, resources and most importantly, your strength and joy.
Comparison is the thief of joy.Theodore Roosevelt
It is never wise to compare yourself to someone else. Pride and arrogance will result if you see yourself as better than someone else. Envy, jealousy and discouragement will result if you see yourself as less valuable than someone else.
Can you see why I sit down and explain to my daughter and my son that comparison is an absolute no go for us? Even just typing these words makes me feel rather uncomfortable. I don’t want to be proud, envious, jealous or even discouraged. And neither do I want that for my offspring. But the moment one of us starts comparing we deliberately set our foot on that road.
Envy rots the bones
I’m reminded of an afternoon about a month ago. My daughter had just returned home from a play date. She had been invited to that girl’s house for the first time. We sat down and she shared her heart. Of course, it didn’t take long until she recounted all the stuff her friend owned that she didn’t. I let her finish and you’ve guessed correctly what came next. It was my turn to share my heart. In trying to keep it short and simple I used a bible verse that I hold dearly: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30).
Now we’re talking! Since my daughter is very curious and eager for knowledge when it comes to anatomy, I thought it was the perfect match. She looked at me rather perplexed and asked me to explain. And explain I did. We ended up speaking in detail about the physical and psychological symptoms of envy and how it leads to depression. All of this, so a seven year old would understand, of course! If you grown ups would like to dig a little deeper, I highly recommend this study or also this overview.
From grumpy to grateful
You may be thinking “OK, and now what do I do?” Fair enough. Here’s what my daughter and I did. And it’s something we do on a daily basis. Her, me, my son, my husband. Make it another one of our family “commandments”, if you’d like. We count our blessings. We practice an attitude of gratitude. Because gratitude always makes us recognise all the good things we already have in our lives. And there are plenty! You can read more here.
The moment you start loving yourself for who you are, peace will come. What a precious gift! And as the wise king Solomon said: With a heart at peace comes life to the body. Wouldn’t you want peace? Wouldn’t you want life? I do! So I don’t compare myself to anyone. I don’t compare my marriage or kids or material wealth to anyone else’s. If I do catch myself starting to travel down that road I stop immediately. And I regularly exercise my spirit man by reading my bible and feeding on wise teachers’ words. One sermon series I have recommended to dozens of friends is called “The Comparison Trap” by Andy Stanley. I might just listen to it again tonight! It’s even been turned into a bible reading plan.
Dare to bloom!
I want to close with the same picture I used in the opening. I encourage you to go outside and find a flower. One is good enough. There’s plenty of blossoms and blooming going on right now. Hello spring! And then I’d like you to meditate on this old saying:
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”Zen Shin
Can’t we all just bloom? I want to hang on to my optimistic dream-like idea of a better world. A world where we put away with comparison, envy and jealousy. Which in turn eradicates a big chunk of the underlying root cause for depression and suicide.
Will you join me in dreaming? Or even better! How about we roll up our sleeves and pull out these weeds in our souls. That should help in being able to bloom. You are amazing. You’ve got what it takes to be yourself. We don’t need a copy of anyone. We need you! In all your beauty, your joyfulness, your giftedness. Do yourself a favour. End the war that’s within you. Make peace with yourself. You are lovable and you are loved.