When I was younger and would imagine what it would be like to be “mom”, I never could have imagined I would first be in this role with a teenager, let alone one from another country. A colleague who found out about my AFS journey recently made the comment, “Good luck! I think there’s a reason that the teenage years typically come along much later in the parenting process.” It’s true, my path to “volleyball mom” has been anything but typical but I’m kind of glad.
Currently, I’m reading an amazing book called “Fresh Out of Amazing” by Stacey Thacker. The chapter I just finished this morning was all about how we compare ourselves to each other as humans and come to the conclusion that “She’s Amazing and I’m Not.” Whether this is looking at someone else and thinking they have their lives together or simply desiring what seems like someone else’s “amazing” life, it is so easy to fall into this trap.
The author uses the story of Rachel and Leah from the Bible (Genesis 29) as she discusses comparison. In case you don’t know the story, here’s the short recap:
- Leah was the older sister; Rachel was the younger sister
- Rachel was beautiful; Leah was not
- Jacob loved Rachel and worked for 7 years to take her as his wife
- On the wedding night Rachel’s dad married off Leah instead of Rachel to Jacob
- Jacob worked another 7 years so he could marry Rachel too
- So yes, in short, he married both sisters
- Leah could have kids: Rachel could not
- Jacob loved Rachel, but not Leah
Okay, so now we’re all caught up on the story we can see that this is one big mess. (Side note: it’s stories like these that make me believe the Bible is true… you can’t make this stuff up!!!)
Out of all of this what struck me this morning was the fact that Rachel had Jacob’s love but longed for children. Leah could have children, but simply longed for Jacob’s love. What a picture of our own lives… often thinking the grass is always greener on the other side.
I once heard a pastor say, “If the grass is greener on the other side, maybe that’s God telling you to WATER YOUR GRASS!” The important thing is that we keep our eyes on Jesus and trust his plan for our lives individually is way more beautiful than we could imagine. We don’t have to look to the people around us to gauge our worth or value or meaning in life, we look to Jesus.
Stacey Thacker puts it this way:
“When we see God as big, we lose the desire to merely look at the horizontal. It isn’t that we completely miss all the thing other amazing [people] seem to be doing. But we aren’t threatened by them, because we are more aware of the work God is doing in us.”
It is so easy to try to compare my life to the people around me. It’s easy to long for things I see in their lives and get frustrated when things don’t happen as I hope. It’s easy to try to take things into my own hands like Rachel did in giving her servant to Jacob to have a baby for her. It’s easy to do those things.
But… we’re still left longing. Comparing myself to others just brings bitterness and resentment. Focusing on what I don’t have makes me miss the blessings overflowing my life. Taking things into my own hands doesn’t fix the things that only God has control of and typically makes a bigger mess in the process.
So how about instead of comparing our lives to each other, let’s take time to encourage and uplift each other….to call out the beautiful things God’s doing in other people’s lives… to celebrate and give thanks for the awesome fact that our stories are different… and that’s a good thing. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and help others to do the same. Let’s give up the comparison game and start watering our own grass!