Thursday, October 18, 2012


As I started writing this post, I realized that I have more to say on Comparison (with a capital C, cause it's a big deal) than will fit into one measly little blog post, so I am starting a series, which I may or may not ever finish, about comparison.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

We all want to be known, liked and admired.  We want to know how we measure up in a crowd.  When we are younger, we jockey for position, and it is often much more blatant, but I am finding that this comparison and measuring has continued to follow me.

For example, I attend a women's Bible study every Tuesday morning that I love.  This is my fifth year to do it.  I know a lot of people in that room.  But - it is a large room, with over 200 women in it most Tuesdays.  I often greet at the door, so I am usually walking in right before it starts, when most people have already congregated with the people they know and are happily eating their amazing breakfast.

A few times, even this year, I have gone through the line to get my food and then stood by the drink table, looking for people I know.  Hoping I don't look stupid not talking to someone at that moment.  Feeling small.  Wishing my friends would stand up and wave me over so I didn't feel so forlorn.  I am exaggerating, but only a little.  Standing in a room full of women who look all put together is intimidating, no matter what way you slice it, no matter how confident you are, and I probably have more confidence than most.

Usually I find my friends and sit down and eat my massive plate of food that is spilling over with various kinds of breakfast casseroles, fresh fruit and brownies.  (You might be starting to understand why I like this Bible study so much.)  I talk.  I listen.  I laugh.  Then the program starts, and the pressure is off.  We get to sit there and listen, obscured by the darkness and focused on the speaker.

Why do I get still get nervous?  Why does it sometimes still feel like middle school in my adult life?  Why do I care so much about what other people think, even when I think I don't?

People's perception of me is important to me.  Far more important than it should be.  I blog.  You obviously know that because you are reading this.  It is a fabulous outlet for me.  I get to keep up with stuff our family does, I get to share creative stuff, and I have a place to process life out loud.  I want to be an encouragement to those that read.  However, it is not always a perfect representation of our life.  I can paint a picture of whatever I want people to see, and that is what people will think is the sum total of our existence, when in reality, it is only part of the picture.

For a host of reasons, probably many obvious, there are things that don't make the blog.  That should never make the blog.  Big things.  Things that take up time and emotional energy.  Things that hurt.  Things that involve people close to us.  A lot of mess that it would never be appropriate to put out into a public forum.  Good and hard marriage things.  Tough parenting conversations.  Work stuff that can be crazy.  Real life that we live and screw up all the time.

So, unless you are living life with me, you probably have a better image of me (or maybe not) in your mind than I would ever deserve.  One that I have knowingly curated in some ways.  I can say stuff on this blog about screwing up, but only the real people in my real life have to feel the consequences of my sin.  And I don't envy them that.  You get to read the more packaged version of it - the one where things are starting to get tied into nice little bows with sweet morals attached.

I say all of this for several reasons.
1) I am still processing it all and repenting that I value people's affirmation in ways that are unhealthy.
2) I think it is valuable to understand that unless we are living life up close with someone, we are probably only getting a small part of the story and making far reaching assumptions, good or bad, about their life that we do not understand is not a best practice.
3) A blog or Facebook or Instagram can all look like a pretty sweet highlight reel, and when we compare to other people's highlight reels, which we do all the time, our real messy lives can never measure up to that.
4) God wants for me to be looking to him and not to those around me.  He wants me to desire his approval alone.  This will be a really long road for me, only to be walked through his grace and power.

Here's an example of the highlight reel phenomenon.  If you follow me on Instagram, this is what you saw yesterday.

A walk at Two Rivers Park, which was gorgeous.


And, my cute kids playing happily at the park in their always matching outfits and bows.


That is a tiny part of my very average day yesterday.  The girls were at MDO.  I met with a friend.  I wasted some time on Facebook.  John and I got aggravated with one another.  I fed the girls a really late dinner, while John was still working.  But, on Instagram, my day sure looks lovely.

I don't want to be a highlight reel.  I want to be someone pointing people to Christ, to his mercies that are always new.  I want to make life much less about me and much more about him.  I want to find my worth in him alone, and I want that for you too.


Amanda said...

I big giant HEART this post. Couldn't have said it better. Thank you for sharing it.

Anna said...

Carol, I love your honesty. You are not alone. I'm there with you. Thank you for being real. Love ya

Harriet said...

Carol, thank you for blessing me with your heart. Your eloquent words reveal a common thread that runs through many, me included!