There have been a few facebook posts, blog posts etc along the same vein in these past few months. The age old problem. People. Compared to other people. This has got me to thinking about this problem. Although I hesitate to proclaim arrived-ness, I will say that I learned lessons very early on in life that helped me towards this end. I figured out these things in my teens in fact, and was able to put them into full practice in my 20's, and you know what they say? Practice makes perfect. This is now something that I hardly give a second thought to now...ever. It gives me great hope that things (like for example, worry) are able to be conquered. I'm not there yet with the worry thing, although practicing. God has proven his faithfulness time and time again. Slow learner. We are MORE than conquerors, now aren't we?
Alright, here are a few things that come to mind- lessons learned in "the fear of man". Things I worked through in my youth, and why not share? None of these things will be new information, I'm sure. But information is in your head. These things live in my heart. It's a very slow process...from head to heart. But it's an achievable distance, with The One who holds us together.
Be content - Not always easy, but always able to be done. It becomes easier once you realize what you need vs what you have. We need shelter from the elements. What we don't need is a flushing toilet. It's definitely a nice perk. So if you have one, but it's "yucky 70's green", count yourself as lucky, and try to go 2 days without using it. It's matchability with the rest of your perfect-home decor becomes quite secondary, and you begin to appreciate the existence and invention of the thing. Make it florescent orange. I'll still gratefully use it every single day. We need food and water to live. We don't need as much food as we eat. Or probably even as much food as we throw in the trash. We don't need water in fancy bottles. I have found that being GENUINELY grateful and content with the things that I have leaves little room for comparison. I believe I started my journey to being content and grateful when I was about 10 years old. I remember distinctly writing a note, nearing the approach of my birthday...a mission statement perhaps. Something to the effect of "No matter what I am given for my birthday - I will love it and be grateful for it". And when I got my gifts, although I don't remember what they were now - I do remember that I enjoyed them very much. The expectation of the gift was not there. My reaction to the gift was my expectation. And it sort of surprised me how much better gifts were, when received in this manner. So it became a theme, and one that is second nature by now. It doesn't matter how "crummy" or insignificant it might be. I will love, treasure, and find very good use for the things I am given. I could really care less how great YOUR gifts are...mine make me so happy I'm not even thinking about that.
Be happy for others - You have an amazing home. And I LOVE it. But I know that I am very lucky to own a home at all, based on quite a variety of factors (mainly money in my particular case), so while I can thoroughly enjoy your happiness over the things that you have, I'm sure you are completely bewildered as to why I am so in love with my things - which seem so shabby compared to yours. Being content with yourself does not mean denial of facts but rather acceptance of them. It does not mean I think I am better than you - it probably/actually means I think you are better than I am - and I am really happy about that. Love others. Skip the envy or jealousy and just love them. It's so freeing and rewarding.
Have appropriate expectations - People will disappoint you. Every single time. It doesn't matter who they are or how much they love you. You will be disappointed or hurt by them. Don't worry about it. Learn to be grateful, understanding and content in your relationships. Be slow to offense and aware of your own shortcomings. Never ask anyone to do anything you can do yourself - or are unwilling to do yourself. Talk to people. I've never yet met a mind reader. Nobody can know what you "think they ought to do" unless you tell them. And if they've been told and have decided on another way, let it go. Completely. You will be amazed at the joy you find.
Focus on the Truth - It is true that you are not as beautiful as Cindy Crawford. But the Truth is that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Don't build yourself up. Don't necessarily tear yourself down either, but don't build yourself up to the point where you can't laugh at yourself. "Does this make me look fat?" I don't know? Are you fat? Is there something you can do about it? If not, don't worry about it and be the best of who you are. If something needs to be done, do it. Focus on who God created you to be, and DO THAT. Don't fret over all the things that you are not. Don't seek for yourself more than He seeks for you. Don't underplay it either! Live up to, and grow your potential, but don't seek after the highest of places. Seek the Lord, His kingdom (not yours), remain humble and work as hard as you can. You can't go wrong in this case. Ask yourself at every turn "who benefits from this?" If the answer is "me" - I will have more money, more fame, more praise and accolades, more fans, more friends...than who is this really for? Perhaps a change in direction is needed.
Own it - In the end, own who you are. Don't get mad or sad that you aren't as good of a _______ as so-and-so is. You are who you were created to be. Be glad! Don't get offended that someone thinks you aren't as wonderful as _________. Maybe you aren't. Who cares? Your life should be so full that you have very little time to entertain such thoughts. If it comes down to it for some strange reason (because people are people), just own it - and move on. If someone disagrees with my parenting choices. So be it. They may do it better than I do. That doesn't bother me at all. Denial about life will get you no where. "I don't know why they'd say that, I'm just fine". Well are you really? Just admit that you are human. Own where you're at, and move on from there.
It's a journey. Enjoy the ride. And stop looking out the passenger window and focus on the windshield ahead. People will always be better than me, and I love them for that.