Growing up, I often felt like the girl standing on the outside of the plate glass window peering inside with my nose pressed on the glass; hands cupped around my eyes for a better look. I couldn’t figure out how to get inside of the masses and still be myself.
It was comparison that motivated me to look past my circumstance and dream of a better life. Comparison wasn’t limited to an unrealistic measuring stick, but rather a portal of possibility and potential I was unaware existed.
As a latch-key kid growing up with a single parent during the era when divorce was different, not expected, I learned what it meant to live with a perceived limp like a bird precariously balanced on a wire. I perched myself wherever I went and watched and watched and watched.
On shopping outings, I observed the reactions of people when approached by kindness and anger, how children respond to the reactive frustration of their parents during begging fits; the way deception looks normal on everyone. All seated on the cold floor under makeup counters while my mother gleaned beauty tips.
During schoolroom adolescence, I learned about my friend’s parents by the contents of their metal lunchboxes sprawled out on long lengths of tables. Homemade sandwiches wrapped like waxed paper gifts were to me, the message of thoughtful kindness, not expected.
On sleepovers, I was a sponge soaking up family dynamics. Taking account of the vast differences between my solitary upbringing and the curious chaos created by kids who took love and rivalry for granted.
Instead of balancing the scale of my identity, comparison was a looking glass, a new clearing through the overgrown weeds of bad choices I was living with.
Now, when I am tempted to place myself in the muck of sediment left in the pot after I’ve simmered in the glory of your gifts, I compare myself with God’s greatness.
He created beasts of the field and beside them the birds of the heavens dwell singing among the branches. From His lofty abode he waters mountains like I water plants and the earth is satisfied. (Psalm 104)
In that perspective, I shall be a satisfied bird resting on the laurels of mountains and watch and watch and watch.
What does comparison communicate to you?
Join us in the comments and for further discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown as we let go of certainty and comparison this week to cultivate intuition, faith, and creativity. This is day 16 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End. Find out more here and join us for daily posts delivered to your inbox by adding your email address to Subscribe in the sidebar. It only takes a few seconds and it’s painless, I promise.