Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Embrace Your Place

Every Monday night Brandon and I get to engage with almost 200 young adults. It is incredible. Our church meets on this first night of the week, housing a crowd of young people who are passionate about growing in faith.

One of my favourite parts of the night is definitely chatting with people after the service. I love to connect, meet people and well, talk. If you know me, this should come as no surprise. It is great to hear about all of the interesting things that people do in their lives... from funny stories to unique programs, I really get to touch base with a wide variety of people.

As my stomach is growing I have been noticing an interesting trend; in the midst of these conversations, many people ask me how old I am – especially girls. When I say that I’m 24 I am often met with a bit of shock and then typically, comparison.

“I’m 21 and single!” or “I’m 26 and still living at home” or “Wow, I still have no clue what I want to do with my life.”

There it is. That immediate self-judgment that we place on ourselves. The comparison game that we play, as though the life I live is better than yours.

They go on to ask about when Brandon and I got married, what I do and when the baby is to be born. And as I see their demeanor change, I am reminded of the value society places on certain life stages.

Now, I am certainly not saying that everyone wants to be me. You may be reading this and shudder at the thought of being 24, married and having a baby on the way. This could, in all reality, be your worst nightmare. (And I must mention, I didn’t have this all planned out, I simply took the next step... something I will talk about in the next couple weeks!) But for many, this is the ‘dream’ they have been fed since childhood. The greatest desire that gets tucked away deep inside is for love, and we are told that this is fully formed once we are married or once we have children or perhaps when we have a house, a new car or a great career.

It is the old ‘grass is always greener’ adage.

But as I watch the comparison game begin in the air that stands between us, I cannot help but to feel sad. I quickly remind the girl standing across from me that she has opportunities that I don’t, that she is going to accomplish things that I can’t and that each journey is unique. She nods in agreement, reminded of the good that is taking place in her own life but I know that my few words may not soothe the longing.

Several months ago I posted a picture on Instagram of Brandon and I reading together. It was a cozy Sunday afternoon so we sat across from one another doing one of our favourite things – reading. The next day I was driving a car full of girls to a conference when one piped up, “I saw your photo, man, I really want to be with someone who loves to read.” The comparison was there, I could hear it in her voice.

My response that day remains the same now; we will always want more. Reaching a certain event in life will not bring lasting happiness. We often believe a lie that once we reach a certain destination, we will be happy and fulfilled. And although this can bring temporary joy, the circumstances itself does not increase happiness in the long run. A new car becomes your everyday vehicle, a relationship hits bumps in the road, a house gets messy. We live in a society that champions the next big thing and forgets to remind us to embrace the place we are in right now.

As much as you may desperately want to be married, I may really want a bigger home. As much as you wish you had your career figured out, I may wish that I had done this or that differently. We can all find a place to look to, a place of comparison. We can all find someone who is skinnier, prettier, more accomplished, more social or has it (seemingly) all together. Our society basically serves it up to us on a platter, telling us that others are better than us through social media or conversations, giving voice to that deep fear inside of us that maybe we are not good enough. And as it whispers this reminder in our ear, we begin to lose perspective on the place we are in now.

So I encourage you, embrace your place. It is easier said than done. It is easy to compare, easy to fall into the standards of society that tell us that we are never quite reaching the place we should be. But as you judge your story, know that everyone has one. My life wouldn’t fit for you – and that’s okay!

Keep growing, keep going after the dreams you have, keep pursuing your desires, but don’t compare your stage to the person next to you. Don’t wish your time away. If something doesn’t fit for you, make changes, talk to somebody but don’t consider yourself less than someone else simply because you don’t feel you fit into the stereotype of a happy life. Embrace gratitude.

Comparison is a thief of joy.

So as you are tempted to look to someone else and wish your place away, I encourage you to embrace it! You will never get the experiences you have right now again.

No comments:

Post a Comment