Today I encountered a new “worm”. Or should I say an old “worm” that just hadn’t shown its head for quite a while. The worm that’s eating my apple today is comparison and envy.
Our moods can easily plummet when we let our guard down even a little. I’m having a perfectly wonderful day. Hubby and I are going to visit our precious two little grandsons for a few days (ages two and four). It’s been almost five weeks!!!!!For us that’s a week too long. In an upcoming long post I’m going to share with you the story of our youngest grandson. It’s quite a story. I think you’ll laugh, cry (which is why it’s taking me some time to finish) and feel inspired all at once. I did. Anyway, moving on……
As I said, this is a good day. Good devotional time with God this morning. Feeling good. Slept good last night. Hair is good. Everything really is good. Except for this darn ole’ worm that showed up.
I stopped by my mother’s to drop off some groceries. She is housebound now and I am her primary care giver. I invited a mutual friend to both my mom and I over to visit with us. She has seen her own struggles. For a long time, she was pretty down because she felt so alone. But that has all changed. One child now lives two blocks away. Another child has moved to about an hour away after living in another state for many years. Her life is very, full now. I listened to her talk about everybody being over to swim in the pool, in addition to other times lately when everyone had been there.
As I listened, my mood plummeted as I thought about how quiet my life is in comparison to hers now. I envied her for the first time in my life. It’s always been the other way around. I was able to quickly turn that envy into genuine happiness for her. What I wasn’t able to do is stop the comparing.
Probably of all my shortcomings, this might well be might my most problematic one. I was surprised when it showed up because I was sure I’d put this one to rest. Apparently, I didn’t. I let my mind wander too far and was reminded how my son who lives nearby doesn’t come around very much. I got to wondering if it had something to do with me. Yet I know in my heart of hearts, it doesn’t. He is a highly successful professional who’s just taken on a new job. His life is swamped. Besides, we just spent this last Sunday with him and his wife going to an ox roast, dune buggy rides, etc. So what’s my problem, you might well ask?
I asked myself that same thing. If you are a Christian you know that the Enemy attacks us when we’re doing everything right and when we’re doing everything wrong. (Christians call him Satan. I, too, believe Satan is a real entity but I also believe that many of our problems start within us. I don’t blame Satan for everything. He can’t force me to make bad decisions; he can only influence me. The choice is always mine.) Pretty much these days, I’m doing everything right. By that I mean there are no glaring “sins” (someday we’ll talk about sin) weighing me down. I believe the minute I allowed my thoughts to be anything but loving and happy for my friend, Satan got a foothold. I’m doing fine now because I recognized the Enemy’s plan and sent him packing almost immediately.
Why do we compare? Why are we happy with our life until someone comes along whose life seems better, shinier, happier? And why, for goodness sake, does our contentment and happiness, take a nose dive when someone’s penny is brighter? It’s so silly I’m ashamed to admit it. I do though because I know I’m not alone. Comparing ourselves to others is universal. Everyone does it and everyone suffers for it when they do. The only time it’s constructive is, if through that envy, we are inspired to change for the better.
If you find yourself envying someone and coming up short in your own eyes, remember that people aren’t always what they seem. Circumstances aren’t always what they seem.
But then sometimes they are. I have a wonderful life. I have a wonderful marriage; my husband is God’s greatest gift to me. I have wonderful children. I have a nice home and nice things. I have wonderful friends. I have been blessed in more ways than I can list. Whew, just writing this last paragraph put it all into perspective for me. I guess that’s the antidote to this whole comparison thing, counting one’s blessings. When we’re truly grateful, envying and comparing falls by the wayside.
But IF in looking at someone else’s life you find that yours genuinely needs some fine-tuning, observe that person closely. What can you emulate? If there something about their behavior, words, demeanor that you can adapt to your own life? Maybe it’s the way they handle stress or the way they respond to other people. Are they doing something you can try? Remember, it’s not necessarily wrong to envy someone else as long as you aren’t critical or unkind towards them. And remember, most people we envy have worked hard to get to where they are. Even if what they’ve worked hard on is internal. To think we can have what they have without doing the work they’ve done is short-sighted. That’s not to suggest if we just work hard enough we can have what someone else have. Life doesn’t work that way. But it is to say that most things in life require some work.
I’m writing a book chronicling my recovery from depression. One of the statements I’ve made in that book supports what I just said and what has been proven time and again in people’s lives.
From my book:“You can’t ride on my coattails and expect to beat depression. You can learn from me. You can read what I’ve written. But unless you do the work yourself, you will not defeat depression. Unless you get out of bed in the morning, unless you get yourself off the couch, unless you exercise, nothing is going to change. Just reading about my journey isn’t going to do you any good unless you take the journey yourself. You can complain all you want about your life but you’re the only one who can do anything about it.” Once I realized that much of my recovery from depression lay within myself, I was stuck in depression no more.
I hope this real life example of how I quickly turned around a little “nudge downhill” illustrates how I manage to keep depression at bay. ( I have another blog “Depressionsgift.com”. I mention it because that is the blog where I usually write about depression. Today I thought I would post to this blog instead. If you battle depression, you might want to check it out. I no longer include a reference to this blog in my header which is why I’m doing so in this post.)