Here's the bottom line, folks: Being an adult can really, really stink. Sure there are some great perks. I can stay up as late as I want, eat ice cream for dinner and I get to live with--gasp!--a boy. But for all the fun stuff, there's hard stuff.
There's loss and responsibility and work. And no matter how much you ask, your boss is not going to approve nap times or recess. Which makes no sense, by the way. You've left the time of letting someone else deal with the big things to dealing with the big things head on. And sometimes those big things fight back.
Some of our hardest battles become with ourselves. Or past selves. What we did years ago can pop up over and over in our Adult Here and Now. Like a pesky gnat that you can't catch.
The biggest gnat in our house is debt. We're doing what we can to pay for things that we bought years ago. Enjoyed months ago. Ate Lord-only-knows how long ago. Decisions and sacrifices and, sigh, big girl and boy choices are made daily in our household to get ourselves on firmer footing. And, dang it, we're doing it.
For the most part, we've got this thing. Make plan. Stick to plan. Done and done.
But every so often things can knock us around a bit, making us waver some on this path we've chosen. (Because it's all a series of choices.) And it's not the broken car window or new tires or clothes for a constantly growing child that always do it.
Sometimes it's the thought of how your life should look. Where you think you should be. How you should be living in this stage, at this point, by now. Sometimes it is that nasty little beast (or another B word, if you prefer), Comparison. Look at them. They have everything I want. Why?
And then you go out and spend, collect, buy things you can't afford because you think you have to have them to make your life look right. Feel right. Be right. Plan derailed.
This happened to Steven and me not too long ago. We've been blessed to meet a really wonderful couple that we enjoy spending time with. They are funny, smart and have a blonde-haired boy just like we do. I mean, they're awesome. It's like looking in a mirror, really. How could we not be friends?
We decided to get together at their place one weekend for some family time and that's when we realized that our twinsies were not quite like us. Their castle, er, house, was beautiful. It was filled was wonderful pieces from all over the place and all I could think was, "This. This is what I want."
The afternoon was great--really, they could not have been more gracious--and we left already talking about getting together again.
But when we got home, we both started mental checklists of what needed to be better about our house. I wanted a new kitchen and was daydreaming of ripping down cabinets and re-configuring layouts. Steven had ideas about a bigger garage and completing the unfinished second floor.
Neither of us uttered one word out loud, probably both a little embarrassed about what we were thinking. And instead of saying my prayers that night, I fell asleep to thoughts that looked a lot like a show on HGTV.
The next day when I woke up, I read my morning devotional from Christine Caine. (If you don't know who she is, take a little time with Google and meet her. Amazing.) These are the first words I read that day:
Do you ever wish you were someone else, had something else or did something else?
Ever have one of those moments where you look over your shoulder to make sure that you're actually alone? Well, I will go ahead and tell you that is pretty pointless. You're never alone. God knows exactly what you need to hear and exactly when you need to hear it. I may not have said my prayers the night before, but God sure was answering them anyway.
The devotional went on to say:
Way too often, we get so caught up with trying to be like someone else that we forget how special we are.
Galatians 6:4 says, Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else ...
Comparing your life, your calling, your schedule or even your way of doing things with someone else will only bring frustration.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. It makes your perfectly wonderful house / body / career, something that is all of a sudden too big, too small, too much or not enough. They are enough. God gave them to you for a reason. Just as they are. Just as you are.
We don't know our friends' story. How they got to where they all or if that road was full of good things or bad things. I truly hope it was a journey full of more joy than heartache. But ultimately, that story is theirs. That life is for them to live. It is not a finish line for me to try and reach or a standard to which I need to try and model my life.
And if I want a life like theirs let it be for the love they share, the compassion they show and the laughter they freely throw around. Not for the things they've acquired.
Sometimes in this adult life we have to fight for our joys. We have to stop letting comparison steal it.
My house is wonderful. It is where we live so much of this life together, as a family. My kitchen is perfectly fine. It is where I feed my family and a certain three year old likes to dance with me. My family is mine. My life is mine. Our story is ours.
And there is no comparison.