Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't let comparison steal your joy

Because I was away this weekend, I didn’t get a 
chance to look at the Sunday advertisements until yesterday morning. While perusing the ads, I noticed several area grocery stores were claiming to have Michigan grown produce like cucumbers, zucchini, and cabbage on sale this week.  What?  How can that be, I wondered?  Last week one of our group members, Debra, said that she got cucumbers and squash at a Farm market in Boyne City.  Hmm… I planted several different varieties of vegetables this year, most of them in pots, but have yet to harvest anything other than a few beans and a couple of tomatoes. While the tomatoes were absolutely delicious, I don’t even have a cucumber or zucchini growing on the vine yet, although the plants have many flowers and a lot of leaves. I’m guessing those flowers are not getting pollinated.  I do, however, have one….ONE….little watermelon growing!

I have been so excited about my little garden so far. I get such joy out of the flower gardens and checking the vegetables every day. It makes me smile to watch things grow and flourish, and I am anxious to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ve been happy thus far with the progress considering the cold spring and summer, but I guess I’m not realizing that summer is passing so quickly and I should be harvesting things by this point. I thought things were growing great…..UNTIL….I read that others are already eating home-grown produce. Yesterday, at my speaking engagement, I was given several cucumbers, squash, and pea pods that were picked that day at the community garden growing out front of the business. The garden was FULL of other things ready to harvest.  What’s up with all that?   Although I was thrilled to get some fresh vegetables for dinner, I couldn’t help but feel a bit deflated to think that other gardens were actually producing fruit…and with the exception of the tomatoes and my one little beautiful watermelon….my plants are just flowering at this point. I almost let ‘envy and comparison” take away the joy of eating a home-grown cucumber for dinner.
As I pondered this situation last night, I realized that God was simply giving me a reminder that I thought I had learned long ago: namely, that “We should not compare OUR personal journey to that of another!” Otherwise, we can very easily lose the joy that comes from the progress and personal growth that is happening in our life as a result of the changes and choices we are making. So many times we get down and discouraged when others are losing weight faster than us; when others get better grades in school or make more money; when it seems like everyone else is getting the “breaks” in life, have better health, happier lives, can run faster….walk further….do things better and more easily than us. It’s a human tendency to compare our journey to those around us.

Fighting that “green-eyed-monster” is not always easy….but giving into it and wondering why “someone else has all the breaks or is making progress or is doing better than us…” is one of the quickest ways to suck the life, energy, and joy right out of our lives and sabotage our journey.  Instead of being thrilled that we lost 10 pounds, went 10 days without a drink or cigarette, can now walk 1 whole mile, earned a C on that exam that we worked so hard to prepare for….or were able to get away for a weekend camping trip….whatever…..we begin to feel deflated because someone else has lost 50 pounds, just ran a 5k, earned an “A”, or is leaving next week for a cruise. Giving in to a mentality of comparison….envy….jealousy….impatience…. INSTEAD OF GRATITUDE for even the smallest bit of progress can so easily derails us and cause us to give up. I could have easily felt frustrated with my little garden if I sulked that I didn’t even have a silly little cucumber yet!  BUT…. I thought about it….and instead, I remembered the JOY of seeing those plants sprout new leaves; the HOPE that I feel when I water them and pull stray weeds; the anticipation that my efforts will PAY OFF….at some point this summer….and the realization that I was able to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s garden for dinner when I ate those cucumbers that someone picked that very afternoon.  My hope is that my own little garden will eventually produce vegetables….and that my sweet little perfect watermelon will grow enough to be eaten….BUT….even if it doesn’t before the summer wanes, I still am enjoying the process of watching things grow before my very eyes! 

So much like our journey…….I may not EVER lose these last 15 pounds......or come to accept all this excess skin…..or become the kind of person I want to be……but if I focus on all of that, I will miss the joy that comes from each day.  I encourage you to rejoice in YOUR JOURNEY….your progress, however small it may be….and work really hard not to compare yourself with others who are on a similar journey.  Try to draw energy from those special moments on the journey…like wrapping that beach towel around you when you get out of the water and realizing that for the first time in years, it goes all the way around you……or walking up a hill while garage-saling and realizing that your are not out of breath….or putting on a piece of clothing that has been hanging in the closet for a while and discovering that it is too big….or even, seeing an in-law or neighbor that typically causes you to cringe and realizing that he/she can’t push your buttons anymore!  Smile and be grateful for the blessings of the day……Like that little watermelon on my vine.   We are all a work in progress….and we will bloom and blossom ( OR MAYBE NOT)….IN DUE Time…IN GOD’s TIME, not ours! 

Make it a good day today by giving thanks for ANY progress…ANY growth…..ANY step in the right direction this day!