Voxer beeps and I pick up my phone to listen to the incoming message.
My sister and I chat back and forth with our handy-dandy app. She shares about the struggles she’s been facing and I confess the irritations and insecurities I’ve been fighting against all morning. We ponder a few questions batting them back and forth, glad to lend a listening ear.
She tells me about loading up in the car with her teenage daughter and heading to buy snacks and drinks and easy food items at the local Kroger store. A friend of my sister’s is walking a hard, hard road in recent days. It’s been an ongoing, long-time battle against cancer in her family, but it’s taken a sudden turn-for-the-worse.
My sister and my niece roll the shopping cart through the aisles, filling it with granola bars, Snapple tea, and donut holes. They add peanut M&M’s and juice boxes. Beef jerky and a variety of cheeses, along with artisan bread. Grapes and berries and yogurt cups join the other items in the cart basket. They make their way through the checkout and schlep the groceries to the car.
A quick detour through the Taco Bell drive-thru and then westward toward their destination. My sister’s friend hasn’t had much time at home and long-distance family are due to arrive today.
My sister and niece pull up the driveway, load their arms with grocery bags and deposit them in the refrigerator and on the island in her friend’s kitchen. She props a note against a bunch of flowers and places a pizza giftcard beside them.
She tells me of this errand of kindness because of the struggles and difficulties and irritations we’ve been discussing.
One of the best antidotes against discouragement in our struggles, disappointment in our days, and irritable displeasure is simply reaching out and bestowing a kindness on someone else.
Acts of kindness, large or small, change our world, change our community, change us.
Whether it’s jotting a note to a friend reiterating the wonderful and lovely you see in her, or filling a cart full of groceries or tapping out an order for delivery to a friend’s doorstep from Farmgirl Flowers, offering an act of kindness, pulls me out of ME.
It’s not that we should always brush off our struggles as nothing, simply because someone else faces something harder. But when I become so mired and centered in the hard and hurt in my life, it’s time to press pause and do a re-boot.
Offering a gift, an encouraging word, a cheery note or text to my friend says, “I see you. I care about what you’re going through. You matter,” and at the same time it helps my self-focus fade back and let’s me recalibrate my vision. It adds happiness to my friend’s day AND it adds a joyful shine to mine.
I tell my sister about another recent conversation I’ve had. It was centered on the pros and cons of social media and I share what my heart has come to believe.
We can blame the perfect posts on social media for making us feel less than if we want to, but in truth, I believe it comes back to our human nature. It’s not always easy to live confidently in Christ and cut out all comparison.
Oh, yes, I get it. Sometimes social media doesn’t tell the real story and people can present the best of the best in their posts.
However this comparison game and insecurity struggle is not new with the arrival of social media.
I struggled with comparison before I had the least idea what a “dot com” was or ever heard the term social media.
I like Instagram and blogs. I love beautiful pictures and gathering inspiration. I also sometimes veer into thinking everyone else has it together and they never have dishpiles teetering in their kitchen sink.
But before I had a phone that could open up to a world of inspiration or comparison, depending how I choose to view it, I would find myself looking at the perfect Christmas picture we’d received in the mail with everyone smiling and perfectly coordinated outfits and somehow it seemed that family must be doing everything just right.
It’s too, too easy to look at other people’s highlights and instead of rejoicing with them, hold them up against the inside inadequacies and shame I see in myself.
There very well is a time and place to take a break from social media, especially when it isn’t inspiring us for good but causing us to dwell too vehemently on where we lack.
It’s also good for me to do a heartcheck and remind myself to name all that I’m grateful for in my life. To remember to celebrate and cheer for someone else when they reach a milestone or are living a highlight moment.
There’s another reason I believe this comparison bent to be woven in our human nature, our choices, and our tendencies. It comes from conversation held with a couple of dear young women friends who don’t use social media or the internet, yet it hasn’t exempted them from insecurities and struggles.
Another real truth: We are only responsible for our choices, our actions in the comparison game where everyone always loses. We can’t control anyone else. And I believe, just as we may take a break from social media, sometimes we must limit contact with some people and put boundaries in place.
Over coffeemugs, she tells me how she never realized mothering could pull us into a game of rights and wrongs we don’t even want to play. How she feels the pressure from another mother who pretty much has it figured out whether it be what type of diaper to use, when to take away a paci, or the downfalls of formula.
“I feel so inadequate when she’s around,” she half-whispers as she glances up from the coffee and meets my eyes. “It’s not that I even think I’m right and she’s wrong. Nor do I feel I must make the exact same choices for my children as she does hers. It’s the pressure of comparison that drains me. That’s not how I want to live my life. I long for comradeship and understanding in these days of caring for littles, instead of feeling like it’s a competition to which methods are best.”
I nod in understanding and empathy and I tell her I wish I had an easy checklist to hand her, which when followed would provide an easy-peasy antidote.
“No checklist,” I say, “It’s a part of life in various ways in each lifestage.”
No checklist. But I do believe there are three things that do make pretty good prescriptions for the situations we face.
Whether it be
discouragement, disillusionment, disgruntlement,
irrational fears, insecurities, isolation,
comparison, crumbled dreams, or crippling words.
These three ways of living go to bat for us, cheer us on and pick us up.
These three. I believe they are world changers.
Acts of Kindness
Rejoicing For Others
Growing in Gratitude
I love the ordinary of everyday. I’m so grateful for ice water and clean bathtowels and a garage door opener. I love scrolling Instagram and finding creative ideas for home decor. I enjoy a favorite food blog with new recipes and beautiful photography. I’m happy to get to cheer for my friend as she begins a new endeavor. I smile as I drop a card in the mail to find its way across the miles in a mailbag. I’m delighted to rejoice with my neighbor about her upcoming vacation. I’m grateful to slip my hand in my good farmer man’s as I deliver an iced tea to the field.
But some days I do fight, and fiercely, to find contentment and to delight in my life right here, right now.
That’s when landing back on these three choices spurs me on and challenges me to change the world, my world, our world one kind act, one grateful word, one joyful shout at a time.
What’s your go-to action or inspiration to combat comparison and negatives in your life?!
Linking up at Five Minute Friday.……….but I used my five minutes and then some! 😉 🙂