Today I went for a walk with some adorable ladies from my church. It was foggy and chilly at first but then the sun broke through and it warmed up. We walked pushing strollers while kids ran around and chased bunnies into the rocks. It was relaxing and invigorating and bonding and freeing all at once. As we walked we chatted. About traumatic births. About chasing birds. About ourselves. And we talked about self-worth and not comparing ourselves to others. That’s something I think a lot about and have struggled with since elementary school. For as long as I can remember I’ve been depressed, anxious, worried, stressed, and full of self-loathing. Oh the self-loathing! One of many factors contributing to that has been a hereditary chemical imbalance. But one of the things that helps me when I’m in a funk is to think about our infinite worth as human beings. One of the oft-quoted scriptures in our religion is found in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 and it says:
That alone is a magnificent truth. But that little semicolon was taunting me to read on. Verse 11 says:
Whoa! God not only loves us, but He loves us enough to suffer so we don’t have to! I can’t even comprehend that. I just. Can’t. Even. But what I can glean from that is that He redeemed ME. Not a perfect version of me. Not a did-her-best-and-made-it-pretty-darn-close-to perfection-all-by-herself version either. He paid the price for my redemption long before I was born. It was a built-in part of the plan that I wouldn’t be able to make it alone. But there was also a built-in way for me to make it. With Him. I love this little comic I saw on Facebook once:
Truer words, people. He drags me on the regular. Fo sho. And that’s OK, because I’m worth it! I have infinite potential! And if I waste time comparing myself to others, and especially comparing their best with my worst, I’ll never get anywhere.
The sweet ladies I walked with gave me a journal with this on it:
Awesome, huh? and inside it was an article about not comparing ourselves to others. One interesting part was about not letting social media get us down. We constantly (like, 24-7 constantly) see the beautiful and exciting photos and status’ that other people post online and it can make us feel like our lives are not as cool as theirs as we sit on our phones scrolling through pix from exotic destinations we aren’t visiting. I love this quote (that I also saw on Facebook:
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” -Steve Furtick
This particular quote came to mind when I was on Facebook posting photos of a recent 3 day trip to Disneyland with my family. We stayed in a nice hotel on the property and Hubby took off work for the much-needed fun family getaway. Here are some highlights that I posted on social media:
Aw! So fun, right? As I posted these pictures I realized that it looked like we had a non-stop weekend of nothing but FUN FUN FUN! On steroids! I mean we were at “the happiest place on earth”!! We were smiling real big!!!! We were riding rides!!!!!!!! We were licking whipped cream off stacks of pancakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But the truth is, like all things in life, it was a mixed bag. The baby was unusually fussy and as a result, none of us got any sleep. Hubby took the big kids on ride after ride after ride, but I only went on four. Four rides total in three days. I was simply too tired and preoccupied with the baby to ride the rides. Even when Hubby had the baby, I was Just. So. Tired. The kids whined, argued and fought. Hubby and I worried, stressed, and yes, even bickered a little. I had a breakdown over laundry detergent, and all in all, we went home completely exhausted.
These photos are by no means fake. They are genuine happy moments that we had together. And they made the trip worth it for sure. But if this is all you were seeing on social media you would think my life was blissful and I was never a tired, sobbing mess. I didn’t take selfies of me going insane waiting for an hour in the
dungeon hotel laundry room while I infuriatingly tried to get the detergent dispenser to accept my credit card. You wouldn’t see me helplessly calling housekeeping three different times, constantly being told “We’re so sorry, we’ll bring some up right away.” And I didn’t tweet about accosting housekeepers in the hallway, demanding laundry detergent (that they obviously don’t carry around with them) or sobbing in the bathroom and being offended that my husband dare suggest that I might need a nap (which I desperately did). Again, the trip wasn’t all bad. But I realized that life really is a mixed bag. There’s good and bad and boring and exciting and disappointing and pleasant surprises and smiling family photos in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and sobbing over laundry detergent.
The reason it’s so dangerous to compare ourselves to our perception of other people is that our lives are neither as glamorous and exciting as they seem on the outside, nor are they as bleak and sad as they sometimes seem on the inside. And thanks to a loving Savior we are never in it alone. And today in particular I’m immensely grateful for two lovely ladies who reminded me of that.