Do you ever find yourself comparing your performance to someone else’s? As a parent, a spouse, or an employee? I think this is fairly common for men. I say that because my husband does this at least once a year. Usually around his birthday, which conveniently is at the end of the year, he spends a few days mulling over what he believes he has accomplished during the year. Then, he compares himself to other men his age and tries to figure out where he ranks on the ladder.
Is anyone else like this? Do you try to measure your success based on others?
Well, I have been going through something similar recently, but my comparisons have more to do with my own pride. It is not something I engage in on a regular basis, but… let me explain.
About a year ago, I was in a small group at church, which is the new way of saying “Sunday School class,” but it sounds more fresh and hip! Anyway, we are strongly encouraged to get in such a group in our church, so my husband and I joined somewhere in 2009. At first, it was fine. We had a lot of fun at our meetings, when we could make them. We were one of the only couples with a child, and that made things difficult at times, because the couples without children…well, you know how it is. They want to be able to go and do without worrying about sitters. Hey, I get it! Enjoy your freedom while you have it.
Then, about a year and a half later, our leaders moved over a few states. Those of us remaining reformed in a new group, and the amazing thing was, every single one of us became pregnant. One after the other, every woman got pregnant. And we all had girls! What are the odds?!
Anyway, a tight-knit group seemed to form, the type that does when a group of women share the experiences of pregnancy, baby showers and giving birth. There was only one problem: I found myself out of the group, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was the last to give birth, in August, right behind a fellow Mama who’d given birth in June, exactly two months before. Most of them missed my baby shower, none of them visited me in the hospital. I comforted myself, the way women do sometimes. I reasoned that, well, I’d had a baby shower for my first daughter. Maybe that was why they didn’t feel it necessary to attend? And they did bring us food, even if they didn’t make it to the hospital.
Still, it was a feeling I just couldn’t shake. You know how women’s intuition is. My husband told me I was being silly and—gasp!—hormonal. However, one day when I logged on to Facebook, I saw a picture of this same group of women, every single one of them minus yours truly, holding their daughters, each little girl in a matching dress. I was shocked. But then, we had missed the Sunday that the picture was taken, so maybe…?
Of course, no dress was forthcoming for our little girl. I was shocked and hurt with a pain that felt like a blow to the stomach. I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe. Now, for those of you thinking I was overdramatic, maybe I was, a bit. But mostly I was wondering how a group of women, Christian women, could leave me and my daughters out? What had I done to be excluded? Most of all, I was alternately angry and hurt that my daughters had been excluded. I wasn’t popular in school, and I began to worry that something about me would affect my children and have them just as teased in their school years. The idea terrified me—it still does.
We confronted the group, but didn’t get anything resolved. I found myself fighting the downhill battle of trying to forget the pain. I considered leaving the church. I even considered leaving the religion. That is how deep my feelings ran.
Now, back to what I was saying about comparing yourself. One of the girls in the group, the ring leader, so to speak, has felt God call her to be a writer. I, by comparison, have wanted to be a writer since I could write. Hence, why I compare myself to her, I guess. I find myself reading her posts, even though I don’t want to, to see where we are. I have a job writing, and she has a blog she writes in most every day. She just recently published an E-book…on and on it goes.
The moral of the story is that I recently realized that we have to practice what we preach. We have to model what we want our children to emulate. The Bible tells us to forgive, so I must do that. Not only should I forgive, but I should be truly excited for her when she experiences a success. It might be hard, I might not want to, but isn’t that what being the “bigger person” is all about? And isn’t that what we want for each of our kids?