Thursday, April 8, 2010

Far More Interesting Things to Do

Confession is good for the soul they say, so will you be my confidante?  May I share with you that I often find myself watching other women to size them up?  I do this everywhere I go: the zoo, church, the mall, the library, Trader Joe's, you name it. When I am in public I am usually comparing myself to the women around me.

I don't do this randomly.  No, I have set areas of evaluation.

Of course they are the areas that I struggle in, the parts of my own personal report card in which I would I would grade myself with 'Needs Improvement.'  And that would be on the days I am being kind.  Those kind days come around more often than they used to but not as often as I'd like.  On the other days it's flat F's.

Frankly, this is kind of difficult to admit. I want to be totally secure to embrace all of the women around me as sisters to be supported, befriended and encouraged. As great as that Kumbaya moment sounds, I'm just not there. I am not always gentle enough with myself to be gentle towards others.  

Now don't get me wrong I have a lot of friends and I don't walk around judging them all of the time. It's much easier to judge strangers, much less messy, none of those pesky facts to get in the way.   It's easier to rate myself against others when I don't know their actual dreams and heartaches. 

And I'm not criticizing all of the time; it's more of an evaluation, an internal pecking order of sorts. I'm looking to see where I fit in.  It goes something like this: she is slimmer than me - she is not but she just had a baby because she is pushing the sweetest little one in that stroller - she is beautiful and about ten years younger than me - she is so talented and look at the success she has already achieved and on and on. 

I have to tell you, it's exhausting just to type that, not to mention how tiring it is to walk around all day with that monologue drilling away in my head like irritating elevator music.  

So what?  I compare myself to other women. What's the big deal? 

Well, this is a very self-centered way to live. I am looking at other women solely through the lens of how they make me look.   Pride rears its ugly head and whines, "I want to be the best."  My little mental world revolves around me. This leaves very little room to give to others and I'm left a bit shriveled and pruney, like dried fruit I have very little love juicing out. I don't want to be dried fruit. I want to luscious, vibrant and warm. I want people, friends and strangers, to leave my company refreshed.

Then there's the reality that constant comparison stifles me.  Very rarely do I come out on the more successful end when I am making comparisons.  I am not looking around so I can find fault with the world, really.  I am looking to bolster the 'can't-not' voice in my head.  You know the one I'm talking about.  The voice that says you can't do x because you are not enough y: the equation of failure narrated by insecurity.  When I allow this voice to become to soundtrack of my days I dare not try, risk, create, speak or even be seen.   Humming along with this internal tune locks me up as effectively as any set of iron bars.

How do I escape? How do change the station, tune in a different song, break this debilitating habit? 

If you read this post you know that I am making a concerted effort to attack the insecurity that has been plaguing me.  To take out this habit I think I require awareness, resolve and truth.

It's time to become more aware.  I must consciously tune in to what I'm thinking.  I can no longer afford to let that insidious comparison dialogue play in the background.   I choose to listen to what is being said in my head.   I will not let the soothing melody of the familiar lull me back to sleep.  I choose to wake up.

In order to stay awake and allow change I must have a firm resolve.  If I'm not sure that this is a big deal or, on the other hand, I think it can't be beaten, I'm sunk. And the truth is, on my own, I can't beat this. But I'm not on my own. The power that breathed the universe into existence can change my heart. My Jesus can change me when I cannot. But I have to be deliberate in my cooperation. It's highly unlikely that I will haphazardly stumble into freedom. As painful as this habit has been on some level I have found satisfaction. It's had some sort of payoff for me, but now I see that the payoff is nothing compared to the price. So with firm conviction I commit to change.

How? I mean I love Tinkerbell (and Stinkerbell), children's books, romantic home decor and can daydream with the best of them, but under it all I am pretty practical. I want to know the nitty gritty 'how' of a thing. Well... I'm still figuring that out, but I do know that a necessary ingredient is a healthy dose of truth. Whenever I catch myself comparing I choose to embrace and repeat truth to myself. Out loud if necessary. Truths like, her story is not my story and her 'muchness' does not make me less. The truths found in the Bible are quite helpful. I love them because they have a power greater than my own thoughts and are infinitely more reliable. One of the verses pointed out to me through this book has just rocked my world this week.

We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.
We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.
Each of us is an original.
Galatians 5:26 THE MESSAGE

How's that for a truth you can sink your teeth into.  Just a few days ago I was being distracted by comparing myself to my friend.  She's young, trendy and slim.  I was already whistling that captivating comparison tune when I caught myself.  I closed my eyes and whispered, you have far more interesting things to do with your life than this.   Admittedly, I had to 'rinse and repeat'.  Of course I also asked God to rescue me.  And it worked.  I experienced a breath of freedom. 

Am I alone in this?  Or do a few of you find yourself doing the same thing?  My friends, we have far more interesting things to do with our lives than compare ourselves to each other.  Far more interesting things to do.  And just like the flowers blooming in my back yard each of us is an original. 

Sweet original Birdies, enjoy your interesting lives today!
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1 comment:

Transparent Mama said...

Joy- It was so great to see you. Your blog looks amazing. I think what you are talking about is very normal. I used to do this a lot. I have found that the older you get, the more you become comfortable in your own skin. You care less what others think of you. You accept who you are. It is the trade off for the wrinkles developing around my eyes. Love you- Brigetta

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