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The Comparison Thief

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Eight years ago we were living in a very bad neighborhood in Evanston, IL in a 900 square foot condo that we scraped to afford. It had been gut rehabbed so everything was sparkly new, but we had to be wary of drug deals on the street, our cars getting keyed in the back alley and any noise that we might make that would disturb the neighbors. But it was our first “house”, it was where we brought our first child to and it was home.

When we moved from Chicago to Grand Rapids, my eyes widened as I saw what we could afford here vs. there. Houses with yards and two car garages and no neighbors in the basement pounding on the ceiling whenever we walked. We found a house with more room than we needed, a beautiful backyard with a blooming dogwood tree in a neighborhood close to everything we loved.

Eight years later and you know what I tend to see in that house that was bigger and better than what I dreamed? A tiny outdated kitchen. Bathrooms that haven’t been updated since the 1960s. A yard in desperate need of landscaping. And a master bedroom without a walk in closet (a travesty).

Here is the obvious truth. The house hasn’t changed. Well, three kids later, it definitely has seen its share of wear and tear. But it is the same house that seemed so big and wonderful and perfect when we moved in.

But now I am surrounded by friends with bigger, better and newer houses. I have blogs in my reader that decorate gorgeous spaces with furniture I couldn’t dream of affording. Pinterest is teaming with pictures of beautifully staged houses with built-in book cases and heated bathroom floors and huge open kitchens with islands and seating to entertain all your friends and family.

Suddenly my house seems woefully inadequate.

Comparison will kill you. And my friends and my feed reader and Pinterest isn’t the problem. I am the problem. We can spend all our time looking at the things we don’t have and shaking our fists at the sky saying, “It isn’t fair!!” or we can look around us and count our blessings. Because when I do that my cup is truly overflowing.

Funny that this week I have been doing that in the midst of being trapped in this house after four snow days in a row and below freezing temperatures. Trapped with heat that works and a roaring fire in our beautiful fireplace. With cupboards overflowing with food (including some cookies my kids decorated with way too much frosting and way too many sprinkles) and two cars that work in our garage. With a more than adequate closet filled with more than enough clothes. And although I just listed a bunch of blessings I’m still coveting heated bathroom floors. Keeping it real.

Most importantly, trapped with the people I love more than anything else in the world. My cup overflows for certain.

Your assignments for the week:

  1. Read the second section of Satisfied.
  2. Do the two projects on pg. 81.
  3. Comment here on what you learned this week about “Comparison”.

Comments

  1. This sounds like an interesting book. I feel that way when I go to the mall, which I rarely do. I suddenly am aware that my clothes are so uncool. It’s not “just” us, though. Advertisers do a heck of a job making us feel that way so that we will buy their stuff and TV so often portrays characters with houses, clothes and cars that don’t jive with their alleged paychecks (if it’s even clear that they work), but yes, Pinterest can have the same effect.
    kim/the maker mom recently posted…Snow Day Fun for Curious Kids and MakersMy Profile

    • Yes, ads are crazy effective. I have cut way back on my magazine reading because I just felt like buying so much stuff. And thankful I cut cable and watch most everything on Netflix commercial free.

  2. DeLinn says:

    I’m so ready for this part. When we moved to Texas, we came from an uber-wealthy area of Kansas called “Johnson County”. I taught there, and we lived there. We used to joke that we weren’t even really spectators at these people’s games. Seriously. It was almost crazy how people lived. Stepping away was a huge relief and breath of fresh air. People constantly compared, keeping up with the Joneses is mild to what we were in the midst of when we lived in that area.

    I’ve constantly found myself not only comparing myself in that way, but now as a mom/wife/woman. I have so many friends who can do so much more, do it so much better, and on and on and on. Time for a self-check.

    • oh yes. He hit on that in his sermon and how much social media amplifies it. We now get to compare each other to the perfect lives we craft on our various apps.

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