Sunday, June 26, 2011

comparison kills contentment

I just returned from a long, relaxing, amazing beach vacation, which explains my lack of posts the past week.  Those that know me best know that the beach is my favorite place in the world.  Sand between my toes, waves at my feet, wind in my face and sun shining down—it’s the closest thing to heaven I can think of.

Though the beach was a much needed break from my two jobs and virtually friendless first half of summer, it seemed to have a reverse effect on what once was my slowly improving body image—for three reasons.

Reason #1:  I got hurt.  Yes, the cycle continues.  I only made it halfway around “the loop” {my favorite running spot at the beach} during my morning run the first day before those familiar sharp pains appeared in my shins.  Looking back on it now, I should have stopped as soon as my calves started to tighten, but I’m much too stubborn for that.  I pushed through, and consequently forfeited any chance of running again that week.

Those that know me best also know I don’t handle the lack of exercise very well.  Vacation week didn’t change this simple fact.  It only took a couple of days for the dreaded “yucky” feeling to settle in.  Even morning walks on the beach couldn’t replace working up a good hard sweat.

Reason #2:  I love food.  Vacation for me not only means a break from work, chores and routine, it also means a break from diet {no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise}.  After all, I’ve worked hard to give up so many favorite foods the past two months. I deserve a break, right?

So, I couldn’t resist the chicken parmesan at the Macaroni Grill, the peanut butter ice cream at Coldstone Creamery, and certainly not the hot crab dip, honey cornbread and stuffed shrimp, scallops and flounder at Surfs Grill {mmmmm… authentic seafood, anyone?}.  Let’s just say these outings did little to help that “yucky” feeling.

Reason #3:  Though the lack of exercise and the lack of restraint both played big parts in my current struggle, this reason easily outweighs the previous two.  It’s the comparisons.  There’s nothing like hundreds of girls baring it all in string bikinis to make you feel inadequate, to emphasize your imperfections.

And on top of that, I couldn’t help remember that the last time I had sat on that beach, I had been one of those girls proudly baring it all.  I had been 110 pounds, ran “the loop” every other day with ease, and ate whatever my little heart desired with no regrets.

It usually only takes a couple of moments of dwelling on these things before the simple statement of a dear friend interrupts these harmful thoughts:

Comparison kills contentment.

And it did.  Comparison took my growing contentment with my physical appearance and strangled the life out of it.

I wish I could tell you that once I realized what I was doing and how stupid and harmful it was, I immediately stopped and never did it again.  Then, I could outline my three-step approach to eliminating comparisons from your life in a helpful, yet witty way and we’d all live happily ever after.

But, that’s far from the truth.  Truth is I was comparing myself {both as “better” and “worse” than others} for the rest of the week… and on my way home… and probably even within an hour of posting this.

But, I can tell you what God has to say about this, and hope it helps both you and me.  And, keep praying, always praying “Finish what you started in me, God.  Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now” {Psalm 138:8}.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

~Galatians 6:4

Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

~Romans 12:6

Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are!  But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement.  How ignorant!

~2 Corinthians 10:12

{P.S. Sorry for the lengthy post!}

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