Side Kick to the Goddess – (A Lesson in Comparisons, Part 2)

Ahh, one of the great mysteries of life.   We always chase the opposite of what we have.

The short kid always wants to be tall.  The curly-haired girl always wishes for straight.

Or in my case, the girl with wavy, poofy, frizzy hair, always longs for smooth, flowing straight hair.  (As I’ve always tried to explain to Mom — mystery solved).

It goes on like that throughout life, and even when you have certain “gifts”  (aka, things that you should probably be proud of, you wish you had replacements instead.)

Although I did fairly well in school, I wasn’t necessarily proud of that. Instead, I was hung up on other stuff – the stuff that kids who were struggling in school aced.

As a strange bonus, I always had the ridiculous misfortune of becoming best friends with these unbelievably beautiful girls.  Let’s be clear.  If you’re a girl in your teens or early 20s and you are okay looking, it’s nice to have some decent looking friends (versus a crop of ugly ducklings), but if you are the shorter, side kick of the most drop-dead gorgeous girl within a 100-mile radius… not so good.

If this happens to you, you are now the starring clown in one side-show act after the next …which just happens to be sold out in every town from here to the state line.

Years later these memories bring side-splitting laughter to say the least, but then?  It was brink-of-death-level embarrassment… You know this scene.. the incredibly hot guy makes eye contact.  You flutter your eyelashes.. He flashes his dazzling smile.  You blush and offer a little rolling finger wave, nothing too suggestive.

You get that, “wow, this is really happening,”  feeling inside your gut as butterflies start flapping around like mad. …. he saunters over…  just as he leans over to whisper in your ear, you are grinning from ear to ear, your chest is heaving…. you are about to die…

And then of course you do die, because you know the rest …. “Hey, would you mind introducing me to your smokin hot friend over there?”

“Please shoot me.”

And I probably would have shot her, (my blond bombshell goddess college roommate that is) if she hadn’t been so darn sweet.  Long, blond wavy hair and crystal blue eyes, tall with long legs and a gorgeous smile.  She had perfect teeth and a sweet, soft country accent (not too heavy, just right). She had flawless skin and every time she even walked by a sunlit window she would get an even, golden tan. I would catch guys just staring at her with their mouths gaping open.  If I would have been thinking, I could have done ground-breaking research on the effect of various stimulus-response on the male species, I had such a prime opportunity…  Wasted guinea pig moments.

Mostly, it was just sick.  But the point is that she was studying to be a physical therapist, and had a few struggles along the way in her quest.  School was somewhat easy for me (sorry, Dad, I can’t remember if I ever told you the truth), so I would sometimes try to help her along. She would comment about how she would “give anything, just anything in the world to have that, to be able to just ‘get it’ the way I did.”  We would work together until we would break through to a few eureka moments. She would be giddy with excitement and gratitude; then she would walk out of the dorm to her flock of admirers as I pondered the ironies of life.

Now the truth of the matter is this.  I joke about our relationship, but during that first semester together, we became so close that her exterior glamour sort of melted into an inner glamor that I loved deeply. We didn’t compete on a superficial level; we gained a bond that surpassed all that and started to really understand each other; we accepted each other for our strengths and weaknesses, and appreciated and admired them the way true friends should.

In short, all the pressure to stand out or ‘one up’ each other fell away, and all that was left was something pretty amazing — a strong, genuine friendship.

Now what happened senior year over some bonehead guy to throw everything off  is a whole different story.

Ahem.

But the point I’m trying to make here?  It’s a great example of why that great mystery of life, chasing what we don’t have, is a fool’s errand.  Why that trail leads to nowhere…

Why we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other people and just another reason why  Theodore Roosevelt so aptly stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

It’s because even with the noblest of intentions, the truest of friends will slide back into misery and ruin as long as the focus is not rooted in something higher, something that transcends man’s concept of excellence.

I think AZ Tozer gave the idea of comparisons the right adjustment with these words.

“The only person we should compare ourselves to is Christ.” 

While it’s true we will never reach His standard in this lifetime, because we know He met that perfect standard for us by taking our place, the pressure is off.  The chains are broken.  We are free. We can escape that feeling of longing in a profound new way.

He fills in all the gaps.  He’s the only one that can.

When we truly understand what He has done for us, our motivation changes; our love increases and wells up to new heights. The pressure to be something we are not finally disappears, and we can finally become who we were designed to be, motivated to trust and obey because of what HE has done, not because of what we could never do.

By staying focused on Him, suddenly, everything else that we thought we had to have or that we really wanted, becomes dim.  We realize that we have already been equipped with all that we will ever need, and it is infinitely enough.

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