Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Don't let comparison steal your joy

Yesterday I went outside to start my car up before work and I was amazed at how “warm” it felt outdoors, even though I was walking across the driveway in my slippers and without a coat. It was even nearly daylight .  There was even the pungent scent of skunk in the air. I thought to myself, “Gosh, it feels like spring out there” and assumed that my lighthearted mood was just the lingering excitement and joy about my recent engagement.  Nonetheless, I felt a sense of positive energy flow through me as I went back inside to finish getting ready for work.

When I pulled out of the driveway, again remarking at how ‘nice” it was outside, I glanced up at the temperature displaying on my dashboard and was surprised to see that it was only 12 degrees outside!  WHAT?  12 degrees and I think it feels balmy?  Am I losing my mind?  Am I runny a fever?  Has menopause set in?  Nah…. but I was pretty sure that God was just using the weather to speak to my heart.  And so….. I pondered, prayed, and thought about it on my drive in and throughout my morning and the word I kept coming back to was COMPARISON. 

COMPARISON…..an act that can either empower us….or cripple us…if we allow it to.  I’ve done both, but yesterday I vowed to choose empowerment.  The reality of yesterday’s weather is that it was COLD….very cold; after all it was only 12 degrees and there is snow piled high along the driveway.  And yet…. I thought it felt like spring!  WHY?  Because I was comparing 12 degrees to last week’s temperature of minus 28 degrees (-28 actual temperature).  Certainly 12 degrees was downright balmy compared to 28 below zero!  On any other day, I would be mumbling about how ridiculously cold 12 degrees is…how awful the weather is in northern Michigan….how dark it is outside when I leave for work….how much I long for spring to arrive…..but not yesterday…..because yesterday it was more than 40 degrees warmer than it was on Friday when I went to work.  And so I smiled!

Bruce did a bit of shopping for me AGAIN last week and surprised me this past weekend with some new clothes (yes…I am spoiled) but I was disappointed and felt bad because a jacket he purchased…a size large….didn’t even come close to fitting me. I was embarrassed and bewildered because it wasn’t just tight….it was WAY too small. WHAT? I have clothes that have size tags  ranging from size small all the way up to XL, but I really was disheartened when the jacket didn’t fit and secretly, I wondered if I was losing control. The rest of the weekend, I struggled silently with the nagging feeling that everything felt too tight and I felt fat, bloated, and insecure, even though Bruce told me repeatedly throughout the weekend that he thinks I’m beautiful.

 The struggle was in my mind…I’m sure he didn’t even realize I was feeling that way…and my own thoughts caused me to overreact emotionally to innocent comments about eating and/or food choices. WHY?  COMPARISION….only this time… it was just the opposite….I was comparing the comfort of my clothes this weekend to two months ago when my jeans zipped with ease instead of rejoicing at how far I’ve come in my journey in these past four months and how hard I’ve fought to keep focused and on track.  There is no doubt that my jeans felt tighter this past weekend than they did last November, but they are still 12 sizes smaller than I used to wear.  I need to focus on THAT comparison…..not get completely hung up on anything else. I need to rejoice that they still zip….and that I am still fighting the fight, especially after the past two months of a complete emotional whirlwind involving very big life changes, a lot of traveling, two college classes, difficult weather conditions, a break-up and now an engagement……up, down, joy, heartache, hope, fear…..and everything in between….without the ability to walk and ride my bike due to the weather and darkness. It’s no wonder my jeans felt tight…and that’s not even considering the normal, biological reasons why we can feel bloated.

Instead of feeling defeated, scared, or beating myself up….or worse…getting hung up because of a size tag and jacket didn’t fit (Seriously, Theresa….every manufacture and designer sizes vary greatly which is why most women have to try things on before buying them…hence the reason there are dressing rooms in every store).  I should have….and need to….every day…..remind myself that I am a work in progress and compare where I am TODAY to where I was four years ago. At that point, a size 12 or 14 or a large, was not even on my radar: All I dreamed about was being able to buy a pair of jeans from the plus size store instead of a mail-order catalog.  Compared to that….well….TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!   We are often our own worst enemy!

Comparison can cripple us if we allow it to. If we look at our life, our struggles, our relationships, our journey and compare it to those who seem to live in nicer homes; have better cars; have lost more weight than us; can walk further, run faster, or wear a smaller size, we will quickly become resentful, envious, or defeated, rather than full of gratitude. The reality is that there will ALWAYS be someone who is richer; healthier; thinner; taller….whatever. There will ALWAYS be someone who appears happier; with kids who are smarter; spouses who are kinder; crosses in life that are lighter.  There will ALWAYS be those around us that are more focused than us; more energetic; more disciplined….but their journey; their lives; their realities are THEIRS….not ours….and if we compare ourselves to someone else, we could lose hope and give up, instead of being grateful for what we do have; the progress we have made; and how strong and blessed we are.

Instead, I encourage you to COMPARE your life, your journey, your thinking to a time in your life when you weren’t working so hard to change your life.  Instead of getting hung up or feeling discouraged that you still have 50 pounds to lose….or that you’ve gained 10 back…..how about rejoicing that you are still lighter today than you were 2 months or 2 weeks ago.  Instead of feeling bad that you can only do 3 sit-ups or walk a little ways without tiring, how about rejoicing that you can do THREE sit-ups and CAN walk, even a few steps.  My friend Carol (and many others in this world) would love to be able to do that today because she had her foot amputated on Friday due to diabetes. Instead of me feeling sad that I can’t be in the same room with the man I am going to marry because of life circumstances, I need to rejoice that I get to be with him on many weekends.   Instead of focusing on what little progress you feel you have made….how about rejoicing that you are not the same person today as you were a few months ago….even if you weigh the same ( or more or less)…because you are changing the way you think; the way you react; and the way you act.  NONE of us are where we want to be….NONE of us are perfect….NONE of us have the perfect life; the perfect body; the perfect relationship; the perfect journey……but we ALL ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS and we are better today….stronger; wiser; kinder, and more loving today….than we were yesterday.  Compared to THAT……well…. we have much to be thankful for. Don’t’ give up; don’t lose hope; don’t despair…regardless of the size tag on the jacket; regardless of the number facing you on the scale; regardless of the stressors in your life.  YOU ARE making progress…YOU ARE….better today than yesterday…..YOU ARE….beautiful, capable, loveable, and worthy…..in spite of your imperfections. 

Finally, I encourage each of you that are on a weight loss journey to take a selfie today, even if you HATE your picture being taken.  Hang on to a few pieces of your ‘fat clothes.” Take note of what you can physically do…how far you can walk…or how many steps you can climb without losing your breath…and write it down.  A few months from now….or whenever you feel discouraged….you can look at the picture or try on those pants and compare your progress. Even as little as 15 pounds will show up in your face and you will see progress.  Don’t lose heart my friends…..we may not be what we want to be….but Thank GOD we aren’t what we used to be!!!!