When the grass is greener on the other side…

Have you ever had one of those moments where you sit and look at how messy your house is and think to yourself, “I bet so-and-so’s house isn’t this messy.” Or, “I bet so-and-so wouldn’t have to argue with her son for 45 minutes about folding a basket of clothes.” How about, “Why aren’t my kids more interested in reading like so-and-so’s?”

If you’re a mom and you claim you’ve never had a moment where you’ve thought like that I’m going to go ahead and remind you that lying is a sin. 😉

I know it’s part of human nature to compare yourself to others, but for some reason I became more keenly aware of areas where I perceived my own faults and shortcomings when I became a mom. I think a lot of, if not most, women do. And it’s a topic that I have been thinking a lot about this last week.

We’ve all heard the Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and while it’s true, it doesn’t really reveal why that is. I do my best thinking while I’m in the shower (perhaps because it’s the only time I truly get time to myself without someone needing something most days?), and in true to me fashion, I had a brilliant thought while in the shower tonight.

Our neighbors have a dog. It’s a black lab so when it uses the bathroom in their lawn, it leaves a decent size pile. Their yard looks like it has measles because all of the places where it has done its business are a much darker green than the rest. There is no denying that this grass is greener as it’s clearly evident. But, stop and think about what it took for it to be greener…sitting under a pile of dog poo.

In all the times I’ve ever sat and compared myself to others, I never considered what it took for them to get to the greener grass. Let me refer back to my neighbor’s yard and expand the analogy. The grass gets greener from being under a pile of dog poo. It had to be fertilized. To put this into human terms, that means that it had to go through a lot of poo to come out greener. (I have to admit this analogy sounded much better and more brilliant in my head.) What I’m trying to get at is that most times if someone’s grass truly is greener there was undoubtedly trial and hardship on the way there.

When I’m busy comparing myself to others I don’t stop and think about others. I’m too focused on me. I’m too busy focusing on where I have failed or what I don’t have. But this last week I have been able to do nothing but think about others. So many women I know are facing some extreme trials.

  • One just lost her husband unexpectedly.
  • One just lost her father.
  • One is fighting for her life for a second time.
  • One is living with a debilitating lifelong disease.
  • One is struggling in her marriage.

All of these things filled my Facebook feed or conversations this week. It kind of put into perspective for me the many ways I am blessed and how good I have it right now. That’s not to say we aren’t facing our own trial; my husband has been without a job for two out of the last eight months, and while God has been faithful and provided for us in every way, there is the fear of uncertainty that creeps in every so often. When compared to the hurt and pain I see in the lives of so many I know, though, ours pales in comparison.

And this is where I would say that God has provided me with a change in my perspective on comparison. I am resolved to attempt not to compare myself to others, but when it does happen instead of allowing comparison to steal my joy I’m going to use it as motivation to be more mindful and aware of what others are going through and how I may be able to help them.

So far this week comparison has moved me to tears multiple times, but they have not been self-pity or frustration tears. Instead, they have been tears that have fallen for others and what I can only imagine they are feeling. I have felt such sadness and grief in my heart for them. I have spent more time in prayer for others this last week than I have in a long time. And it has made me realize that this perfectly imperfect life that God has given me has grass that’s just the right shade of green, and no matter my shortcomings, as long as I’m striving to be exactly who He has made me to be, it’s all that matters.