There are quite a few days when I feel really sorry for myself.
I take stock of our situation- the long, unending journey to our children, both biological and adoptive/foster, and I can make a rather long list of our difficulties, heartaches, and disappointments.
This occurs because of one main reason.
I like to play the comparison game.
As women, I think most of us play it, whether we know it or not.
In fact, it happens almost every time we walk into a room with other women. Upon entering the room, we set up a hierarchy, with the prettiest, smartest, wealthiest, or most powerful women at the top, and the women directly opposite on the bottom.
The closer we can get to the top of the hierarchy in at least one category, the better we feel. And as long as we look better, think better, or are more successful than someone in that room, we are affirmed.
It’s an ugly game. No one knows you’re doing it. But most everyone is playing.
When I play the game, and look at women around me who are my same age, I can fall pretty short. My idea of family hasn’t quite come to fruition like I planned and compared to everyone else, I’m pretty far behind.
Other adoptive families have brought two kids home in the time we will have completed our first adoption. Friends are now pregnant with their second baby since we started the process. Most people my age have kids entering elementary school.
Comparatively, I lose.
It can, at times, knock me into a tailspin.
Anybody else with me?
We can compare anything.
The size of our home.
Our children. (Or lack of them.)
This comparison game steals my joy on a frequent basis and significantly distorts the truth of what I actually have been given in this life.
Comparison makes me think about what I DON’T have.
There is no winning- it’s just more and more of playing the game in hopes to some day be satisfied with where I measure up.
But it’s a game I just can’t win.
Someone else will always be prettier.
Have more well-behaved children.
And so very often, life has not turned out the way we would have imagined. It’s easy to look around us and wonder why everyone else has it so easy.
Just think about at what Facebook has created- a fertile breeding ground of “picture-perfect” lives.
A quick scroll down on your status updates shows sweet baby pictures, new homes, expensive beach vacations, and gorgeous wedding photos.
Everyone’s children look put-together and well-behaved. Rarely do we see a picture of a toddler in the middle of a full-on temper tantrum.
Newlyweds take pictures adoringly gazing at one another amidst beautiful backdrops.
We forgot how easy it is to make life look perfect and put-together in picture and short status updates.
I can only imagine how much of our perspective is lost or altered when we look at these pictures.
The old saying that pictures tell a thousand words may be true. But it’s a muddled story. What happens is that we end up creating a story of that facebook picture that has a tendency to paint our friends lives in brilliant colors while simultaneously viewing our own lives as grayer and more drab by the minute.
It’s fiction. Plain and simple.
The comparison game can make us resent our husbands; wishing they did more, made more, loved us differently.
It can cause us to create unrealistic expectations for our children.
It makes us bitter and envious.
Not really glowing character traits.
So what is our alternative?
Thankfulness is focusing on what we DO have and what is right in front of us everyday.
But thinking about what we DO have is work. It takes a concerted effort to not wish for what tomorrow may bring and instead focus on what we have been given today.
For those living in failing marriages, walking through chemo treatments, dealing with infertility, or a myriad of other heartaches; choosing to be thankful may be a minute by minute or hour by hour process.
It may be finding just one thing to be grateful for, to get you through the day without crumbling.
Choosing to be thankful shifts our perspective off of us and everyone around us and refocuses our eyes on the One who gives us life.
It makes us realize that we have been given MUCH- no matter what our life currently looks like.
So today, instead of focusing on the children I don't have or the unknown that we still face with baby J, I am choosing to be thankful for the many small and large gifts that I have been given.
Here's just a few....
- J's big, two-tooth smile
-Skyping with family
-Nap time (for both J and me!)
-Dinner together as a family tonight
What are you thankful for today?
Any other thoughts on the comparison game? Ways that you have learned to stop playing?