I have a confession to make. Ready for it? I confess to you fine readers that I don’t particularly enjoy blogging. I glance through all the blogs of people I know and I feel defeated. I’m never going to be able to tell you about my recipe for chicken cranberry apple soup made from a slow cooker. I don’t have anything particularly funny or clever to say in fun little anecdotes. I don’t have pictures of me and my boyfriend/husband together through the years. I don’t really enjoy taking pictures at all, but feel like I’m supposed to. I don’t have great cultural insights into life in my context of being in China or being on home assignment from China. I can’t tell you about the cool new album that I’ve been listening to because, frankly, I don’t listen to that much music. I’m not able to hold an incredibly deep discussion of theology, devotional life, or cross-cultural perspectives. Nor am I very good at taking apart a paper or a book or a lecture or a sermon and analyzing all the things good and bad about it. People think I take life too seriously. My constituency is really just an audience of one: my mother. (Hi, Mom!). And I’m never going to have a good enough blog. At least that’s what I constantly tell myself.
If you are out there and reading this (and that’s a big if) you should be commended for sticking around. I’m not looking for platitudes or confirmations or even more people telling me I need to write a book (a book about what, I need to ask– one friend said I should entitle my book “Anybody Got a Cow?” after my dream of milking a cow since I was 10). I’m just being honest before you.
Then I realized something. Ready for an even bigger confession? I realized that I’ve been a carrier of the one disease that plagues people (particularly, women) across the globe, regardless of culture, ethnicity, social status, or age. It is the infamous raging disease of comparison. I always find myself comparing. Comparing myself to other people. For good or bad, usually down on myself. I am comparing myself to other people whose blogs are better, whose pictures are more stunning, whose words are more captivating and entertaining. I am then paralyzed, feeling unable to write anything at all. I compare myself with the “plain” girl or the “clueless” girl who actually got a husband. I compare myself with the people in Cape Town whose accomplishments by age 30 far exceeded my own in terms of leadership and influence. I compare myself with my brother, the talented one who draws people to himself because of his personality and sense of humor. I compare myself to those who can speak publicly or privately and people actually listen I compare myself with those who have way better creative ideas than me in ministry. I compare myself with my teammate who can speak way better Chinese than I can- when I’ve been in China twice as long. I compare up (to people who are perceived to be better off) and I compare down (to people who I perceive to be poorer off). I compare myself to the teammate who is more popular with the students because she’s an extrovert…and I’m not, even though I’m doing all the work behind-the-scenes. I compare myself to those who can run 12 miles without a hitch when I can barely breathe after 4. I live in denial of all this by saying that I’m “pursuing excellence” when putting other people’s accomplishments as the goal rather than focusing on God’s goal for me. I’m living in the perpetual state of comparison.
Comparison is an ugly place, and I am often the queen of the land for all who dwell here. Comparison will start defining you. It will start consuming your thoughts, affecting your attitude, and cause you to often feel defeated. And that’s not the way God intended for people to live. Rather, he intended for us to be in community with each other. To celebrate our gifts, to rejoice in our uniqueness, to allow people to bring certain things to the table. It is to say, “I can’t be all things to all people; this is a journey and I need YOU and your greatness to help me get there.” That means I need you to shine in those things where I’m lacking. And myself not being afraid to shine in the things that other people are lacking. Then, maybe we can be a visible Body of Christ, rather than those who squabble by comparison. Maybe together we can point to Christ, by whom none of us can never compare–but as a Body we might at least begin to.
So, what is my response- right now, today, in this moment? I write this blog. I press “submit.” And I go on. Writing a better blog someday, maybe, but not because I want to be better than ranger joe over there, but so that I can be all that I can be through Christ. And let Him and Him alone be my standard of comparison. And finally to let the Father cover me with His grace in the way only He can. That’s something I can finally be proud about.