I reallyreallyreally tried to make myself title this, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why? Because it’s true and I love that quote. (Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt.)
But unfortunately, that sounds way holier than how I feel about it today.
Yes, comparison IS the thief of joy. And because she steals my joy (and yours), she is also a bitch. And I’m fed up.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve managed to run several times and even endured some excruciating classes at the Y. This is great improvement over the weeks (months!) prior – and still, I feel dissatisfied.
After a brutal 4-miler Monday, I complained to my friend Amy, “I am so out of shape.” Her response: “Out of marathon shape? Or out of shape? Because those are two very different things.”
Hm. Good point. So good that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The truth is, I’ve been beating myself up because “I’m in horrible shape” – in horrible shape compared to myself last August, when I ran a marathon. But, if I stop comparing myself to what I could do at the peak of marathon training, and look at myself in light of where I am right now, maybe I could stop feeling like a complete failure.
I could probably write for days about comparing myself with others. But what about comparing myself to… myself? Myself in another age or season of life? The most obvious may be comparing my 35-year-old body to my 17-year-old body. That’s so unfair. I used to look like…. I used to be able to….
Maybe it’s comparing my current spiritual life to that one year in college when I went on two mission trips & spent 3 hours a day reading and journaling. Never mind that I didn’t have anyone to take care of except myself. I used to I used to I used to….
My pastor has often said, “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is so true – and I would venture to add that I struggle with defeat because I compare my current behind-the-scenes with my own highlight reel.
It’s defeating because, “I did XYZ then; what’s wrong with me now?” But that doesn’t take everything into account, does it? I selectively choose the highlights from past seasons of life, and rather than just recalling them as fond memories, I idolize them as a standard I may not be able or even supposed to grasp in this season.
If I keep succumbing to the “grass is greener” syndrome, I’m going to wish away my current season – the NOW ME – perpetually discontent, as my present reality never measures up to the highlights of my past. The THEN ME had problems of her own. She would punch me in the face if she knew I was holding her up as the standard for myself now.
I’m tired of being so mean to myself. I’m tired of not measuring up. If I choose to run, let it be because I love to run, not because I’m chasing something I had before. When I pursue fitness, spiritual disciplines, whatever – let it be because it’s good for me now, not because I’m striving for a past idealized version of myself.
What am I doing today? What is the best version of me TODAY?
What is it for you?