I noticed her in front of me as I began putting my groceries into the car. She looked younger. Her hair was shinier. Her arms were more tone. The outfit she was wearing looked like something straight out of a magazine. I even noticed the vehicle she was driving; it is the same one I wish was parked inside my driveway. Everything about this woman was everything I wanted, including the two adorable children strapped inside their car seats.
I wished I hadn’t noticed her because just minutes earlier as I was walking to my vehicle, enjoying the sunshine, I smiled and thought, “Life is good.” But it was in that moment when I saw her that I found myself going from “life is good” to “her life is better” all in a matter of putting a few grocery bags in my empty backseat. I was no longer joyful, but envious. Not only was she younger, prettier, and more tone even in her ear lobes, but she was in the stage of life I wished, dreamed, and longed to be in at the end of each day. This woman had everything my younger self thought I would have at the age of 30. And I drove away from the parking lot that afternoon feeling like I had just been mugged.
Comparison came, punched me in the gut, and stole my joy.
In fact, for days it has become difficult to walk down the hallway of our home. I can’t quit playing the comparison game as I glance over at our wedding picture and then stop to look at the other pictures of my family members hanging up close by. For them, they have added children; they have moved on from the “couple stage” to the “married with children stage”; but not us. Nothing has changed in the seven years since we said, “I do.” Our family portrait remains the same despite the years of medicine, treatments, praying, and waiting in hope.
Since that sunny afternoon, I can’t seem to shake the empty feelings as I now continually compare and measure every area of my life to others. I sit in parking lots and notice the woman walking inside of the store while holding their growing bellies; and the mother who is filling every seat in her van with wiggly bodies and sweet giggles. They seem happier than me, and more fulfilled in life than I do.
Lately, even in the midst of family gatherings I have noticed myself starting to drift off into a trance while staring at my cousins who have completed their beautiful families, as well as my brother who is starting his by adding a precious life with perhaps his charismatic personality in December. I feel stuck and forced to remain at a standstill while everyone moves on and leaves me behind. I don’t want to admit it, and I feel ashamed to say that I envy each one of them in different ways; and it’s disheartening because what they have seems so far out of my reach, no matter how far I stretch.
Comparison truly is an ugly thing. It replaces your happiness and joy with bitterness, jealously, envy, and hopelessness as you only begin to start seeing what other people have that you want. And it is with this type of tunnel vision that it makes everything around you look dark and gloomy. I have been desperately trying to get to the “me” that I was before. The me that smiled while walking to my car and thinking, “life is good,” but I can’t seem to find her again. That is until my walk this morning when I passed a beautiful yard full of gorgeous flowers. It was in that quick moment that my tunnel vision was lifted and I was able to see my life from a different perspective. Even a new perspective than I had before.
You see, these flowers that I saw were absolutely beautiful and each one of them were different sizes and in different stages; some budding; some blooming; and some finishing their bloom. As I stopped to admire these beautiful flowers, I realized our lives are similar because flowers do not bloom all at the same time and neither do we. The truth is, I am in my stage of life and so are those who I have been envying. We are in the very stage God has planned from the beginning of time, but the trouble is for many of us, we are often too busy comparing ourselves, and longing for the next stage, that we reject the “life is good” moments that God has provided for us now.
I might be blooming later than I would have planned or hoped, but God is the master gardener and He sets for each of us to bloom in His time and in His way, in order to bless and beautify the world in His timing. So, this afternoon, while walking in the hallway of our home, I stopped to stand once again in front of my wedding photo and as tears of joy began streaming down my face, I proudly proclaimed that is “life is good.”
I am once again rejoicing in hope that one day, in His perfect timing, I will move on to the next stage of my life in which I will be the woman walking into the store proudly rubbing my baby bump. And then, years later, when God is once again finished tilling my ground, i will have moved on to the next stage where I am filling every seat in my minivan; it’s the one I can’t wait to see parked in the garage, with more wiggly bodies and sweet giggles. But for now, this stage of my life is exactly where God has placed me and I will not go another day wishing for better days or a different set of circumstances.
Instead, I will be thankful because it has been during this stage that I have had seven wonderful years of marriage (and counting) with my best friend and in that time we have been able to grow in our faith together, become stronger in our marriage together, and just enjoy each other every day together. I refuse to go another day rejecting this stage and these precious moments because life truly is good and God’s plan really is perfect.
My friend, I don’t know where you are in life. You might be single and hoping for a spouse to call your own, someone like me who is waiting to grow her family, or a worn-out Momma with a family of 4, 8, or maybe 19. Regardless of who you are or where you are, my prayer is that you are happy. I pray that the Lord will guard your heart and mind so that you will be able to enjoy the now moments He has given you and the current stage that He is purposefully placed you in. And I pray that when comparison does begin to creep its ugly way within your heart, you do not forget to look around and as you think about the wonderful blessings you have been given, take a deep breath and say, “Life is good.” Because it truly is.
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He sets blooms in His time and in His way, to bless and beautify the whole world.
He cultivates a garden of alternating blooms, so their beauty will last over the longest time,
To bless the greatest number of people, for His purpose alone.