Mayla is a wonderful little girl I had the opportunity to get to know this summer at work. She is 6 years old and an EXTREME PERFECTIONIST! Over a period of weeks, she made this cross out of coiled magazine pages. This is a difficult process for a kid especially a 6 year old. Many times, she wanted to throw it away and start over and many times I had to encourage her to continue. She was really proud of herself for finishing it. And she was really proud of her cross until she saw what Hailey did with her coiled magazine pages.
Mayla’s countenance fell, she was nearly in tears. “But…hers…is…better”, she said. It took an incredible amount of talking with her to help her see it differently. I pointed out that they had made two totally different pictures, comparing them was unfair. That failed. I reminded her that Hailey is 11 years old and she is only 6. Failed. I asked her to tell me how many other kids made coiled magazine pictures and she thought for a while and said only me and Hailey. Exactly, I said. It’s a difficult project and you completed it. Failed again. She was so hurt and disappointed in her art.
Finally, I asked her, “did you have fun making this?”
“Do you like it?”
“No, do you like it?”
A little glimmer of hope, her face picked up only a tiny bit and she said, “Yes”.
“That’s all that matters, then” I told her.
Success, she bought it. Her countenance picked up, she hugged her picture to her chest and allowed me to take that picture.
Comparison is the death of contentment. There will always be someone we can compare ourselves to and decide that we are less than. If we want to boost our ego, we can find someone to compare ourselves to that is less than so we can feel better than. Either way, we lose the contentment that could be ours.
Sometimes, I find myself comparing my present situation with past ones. Ones where I walked with no pain and slept at night and could do the things I wanted to do with ease. Don’t you know during those times, I took all that for granted. I never considered that one day I would wake up to a new normal. I have railed against this new normal and when I make comparisons, I rail all the more. As my husband is fond of saying, it is what it is.
Contentment is a state of mind that is not dependent on circumstances. I can’t always change circumstances but I can change my state of mind. I can refuse to make comparisons and chose instead to find the beauty in this new normal and appreciate it for what it is – a season that will pass.
Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”. Philippians 4:12
Jesus, You know this new normal wasn’t my choosing and You know how often I have given up a present moment to relive a past where I was not in pain. Forgive me for that, I pray. Help me to learn the secret of being content in even this situation and help me to let go of my need to make comparisons. Help me to find the beauty, the lessons, the grace in this season and help me not to take those things for granted, in Your name, I pray, Amen.