I have the opposite of writer's block: there are so many things I want to write about that I can't nail one down enough to focus on it. Obviously, the best course of action here is to ignore all of those ideas that have been demanding front row cerebral space for the past three months and go with something brand new. So that's where we are.
Many of you know I have a sister. MommyJ is my dearest friend. In a perfect world, we would live next door to one another, our homes only separated by a gigantic shared walk-in closet. (Except for the blue jeans. Those, we don't share.) We were not close growing up -- I'm 4+ years older, and we were both bratty in very different ways. Our interests were vastly different, as were our approaches to life in general. I think, then, we looked at each other through carnival mirrors, each convinced the other was the one with the skewed perspective of reality. And the cuter figure. (We may have both been right, on both points.) We grew into a friendship that has ended up being the key to my sanity on my worst days, and a great source of joy and delight on all the other ones.
Over the past couple of days, MommyJ has engaged in an exchange of sorts with an acquaintance and MommyJ has been unfairly judged. This woman has made assumptions about MommyJ's life that imply the only reason it's so good is because she hasn't come up against any real trials -- yet. And she seems to watch MommyJ's little family just waiting for life to smack my baby sister in the face. What would you wish for, my friend? Do you actually hope for sickness, disease, disability? Are you waiting for her kids to hit puberty and fall off the deep end? How about job loss, or the death of a loved one? Legal troubles? A secret drug habit, or infidelity?
I do not understand why we all feel so strongly the need to measure our trials against another's. How can we assume that we all must endure exactly the same experiences in order to learn the same lessons? Surely the Lord does not mean for us to live our lives waiting for the other shoe to drop. There is no joy in that!
Here's the thing: we try so hard not to judge people who are going through difficult experiences. Sometimes, those challenging circumstances are the direct result of poor choices made by those involved. But sometimes, bad things just happen. This doctrine of not judging is preached a lot these days. But if it is true, the opposite must also be true: sometimes really great circumstances are the direct result of good choices made by those involved. And sometimes, good things just happen. But the good circumstances are not finite, handed out to others with none left for some at the end of the day.
Sometimes, we endure trials very publicly. I think of so many of you out there who have children born with serious disabilities. Those trials are hard, in part, because they are out there for the world to see, and how you deal with them becomes a very public thing. Other times, we overcome private, painful trials one on one with the Lord, and these may be the hardest lessons of all.
When MommyJ became pregnant with Jordan, her first, CPod and I were three years into a seven year dose of infertility. I was happy, because she was happy, but her happiness was a little clouded. Every time someone who knew both of us found out she was expecting, they qualified their happiness for her by saying, "This must just be so hard for your sister." Even our mom was a little afraid of how I might react. But MommyJ didn't take a baby away from me. She gave me a nephew! To this day, I thank the Lord that I was able to share in MommyJ's joy and separate it from my own personal heartache. I would have been without a valuable source of support and love through some of my darkest days had I counted her blessings as black marks against my own.
Here's my long-winded point: please don't compare your trials to those of anyone else. The comparison does nothing for you but drive a wedge between you and somebody who might actually be able to help you through it.Please don't try to qualify the spiritual merit of another's experience based on the outward appearance of their current circumstances. You have no way of knowing what private struggles they may face, or what demons may have already been overcome. Do not discredit another person's methods because your experience yielded a different result. Remember that when all is said and done, you will only be judged against your own potential, so to compare yourself to others in the here and now is fruitless and counterproductive -- and a really quick trip down the path of self-condemned inadequacy.
(And please don't hold this post against me. It's not exactly my most organized and thorough composition.)