Someone else’s shoes don’t make the road easier

I heard about a so-called reality television show that used to be popular, one where the wives in two families traded places with each other. Wife 1 from Family 1 switched with Wife 2 of Family 2, and then some genius follows them all around with cameras to see what happened. Can you say “train wreck”? I’ve never been a big fan of those kinds of shows (or reality television in general), and I’m not even sure if it’s on anymore. But I remember hearing about it and thinking that in concept it might be nice.

I mean, getting the chance to live someone else’s life sounds appealing some days. Let’s face it. Life is tough and hard and difficult, and it feels like others have life so much more figured out than I do. So it makes sense to want to trade places with someone else, to get a chance to live in someone else’s shoes.

But is it really nice? Does it really ever turn out the way you expect? I never watched those shows, but I would be curious to know if any of those people walked away from an episode wanting to stay switched.

stairs-man-person-walkingToday’s verses are Galatians 6:4-5.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

I don’t know what your life really looks like. I know what it looks like on the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. You could be the most disorganized, chaotic, crazy-brained person on the planet and still give the impression that you have it all together when you’re in front of someone else. Likewise, you could look like a nutcase but have your mental ducks all in a row.

You can’t tell just by looking at someone. Sometimes you can’t even tell just by listening to them. But I guarantee that if you got the opportunity to switch places with them, you wouldn’t want to stay long.

The point is, we’re all broken. Nobody has it all together. Some people are just better at faking it, convincing people around them that they know what they’re doing. So when you catch yourself wishing you could change your life or trade places with someone else, remember that things aren’t always what they seem.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. That goes for material wealth as well as spiritual growth too. Just because someone comes off as incredibly mature spiritually doesn’t mean that you want their level of faith. I mean, it’s great if you want to have strong, unshakable faith, but that’s not something you get by snapping your fingers. Generally, you’ve got to go through a lot of pain and disappointment and sadness to be able to develop a faith that’s strong. And it’s great to want that and it’s totally worth it, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that growing a deep faith happens easily or overnight.

So stay put. Don’t wish for someone else’s shoes. Get comfy in your own. No, your life isn’t perfect. You have challenges you’ll face and hard decisions to make, but you aren’t in your life by accident. God’s got a plan, and He’s working it out a day at a time, even (and maybe especially) when it doesn’t feel like He is.

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

How comparing yourself to others puts you in a pickle

Have you ever sat and watched someone else do your job better than you? Don’t say you haven’t because we’ve all been there. We’ve all watched someone else–someone younger or less experienced or weirder or whatever–do what we do best better than we can do it.

If you’re a performance-driven perfectionist like me, it’s mortifying. Because nobody should be better than me. If it’s my job, I should do it the best in the world.

Yes, that’s the way I think. Yes, I know it’s crazy. Yes, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. There’s always someone out there better than your best. Whether they actually are or not may be a matter of opinion, but from your perspective, some young whipper-snapper just bopped into your world and upstaged you.

So what do you do? How do you handle yourself–your identity, your life’s purpose–when someone comes along who’s better at being you than you are?

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Galatians 6:4-5.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Did you know that you’re the only you in the whole entire universe? There’s not another you out there. So the first thing to remember is that nobody can be a better you than you–because you’re the only one in existence. God made you exactly the way you are, knew every inch of you before you were born, understood every ridiculous personality quirk before you were even aware of yourself. So whenever you hear those devious whispers that someone else is better than you, recognize them for what they are. Lies. And don’t waste any time on them.

Secondly, who told you someone else does a better job at your job than you? Is that your own opinion? If it’s your own opinion, take a moment and just be real with yourself. Are you doing your best? If you aren’t, then change. If you are, stop worrying. You can only do the best job you can do, so stop trying to do the best job your coworker can do.

Are you catching a theme here?

There’s something in each of us that demands we compare ourselves to the people around us. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s probably pride, because we want to be able to say we’re the best.

But you can’t compare yourself to someone else.

I snapped today’s featured photo at Judgement House last night. In case you can’t figure it out, it’s a pickle. A whole dill pickle. But it’s short and squat. See, whole dill pickles are one of the best sellers at the Judgement House concession stand. They get wrapped in foil and we go through gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons of whole dill pickles every night. It’s ridiculous.

So why, when we can consume that many pickles, is there one little short, squat pickle leftover? I can only assume that it wasn’t good enough to sell. Or maybe nobody wanted it because they assumed it would taste funny because it looked different than its full-size pickle siblings.

Not to anthropomorphisize a pickle (which is precisely what I’m doing), but that’s what we do so many times with our own opportunities. We get this idea in our heads that because we look different or sound different or work different or just are different that we can’t do a job as well as somebody else who is “normal.” And that’s just silly.

Comparing yourself to somebody else is a waste of your time, your emotions, and your resources. It gets your focus off what matters–the fact that God put you right where He intended you to be.

So knock it off.

Stop comparing yourself to other people. If you’re an actor, stop thinking someone else is a better actor than you are, and just do your best. If you’re a builder, stop thinking someone else builds better houses than you do, and just do your best. If you’re a writer (yes, talking to myself here), stop comparing yourself to other writers, and just do your best.

What’s important is that you do your best to the glory of God. Period.

That way, you won’t get caught up in the drama of who did what or why or when, and you can look at what you’ve done and be satisfied. And, honestly, there’s nothing better than being satisfied with a job well done.

So the next time you feel so inclined to compare yourself with someone else, think pickles. Because even a short, stubby pickle is still a pickle.