We are all guilty of it. “I wish I was better at _____.” “I want to do [X] like her.” “I long to have that type of relationship.” We all spend time contemplating who we aren’t, what goals we haven’t met, which benchmarks we haven’t reached. We say we don’t, we tell others we have a positive outlook, but we all succumb to self-inflicted wounds we impose upon ourselves at some time or another.
Most of us spend a lot of time focused on what we aren’t in this world and what we “can’t” do. If you don’t do it, you’re probably lying to yourself and if you’re not lying, you should write a book because the rest of us working through this life would like to read it.
It’s easy to divert yourself from materialistic ways. It’s much easier to cast your sights on what you do have rather than what you don’t have when it comes to “things.” But when it’s about who we are and what we are missing (or what we think we are missing) as humans, we are much more inclined to speak negatively in an inward sense and it’s one of the most dangerous paths we allow our minds to travel down.
Maybe it’s because we can’t control it. Maybe we are angry about what is outside the scope of manipulation. We can’t control if we are too tall or too short or, in our own minds, the wrong shape. We are unable to change if we can’t sing, or have no rhythm, or lack a certain talent. If we are Type A or Type B personalities, if we are introverts or extroverts. Sports, work, relationships. How we compare ourselves to others is without bounds. As a society, we are very focused on what everyone else has and what we do not.
Though the Bible tell us not to envy what others have, most people interpret this materialistically when the more dangerous coveting is when we want to be someone we are not. We see all formed to do different things, we see crafted for individual purposes.
A simple example: I never understood why it was so easy for some people to work their way up a corporate ladder or through the political connection pipeline while I couldn’t connect with either track. I watched handfuls of people maneuver their way to success by doing things the pre-determined “right way” and couldn’t grasp why I couldn’t get there. The simple answer is that I wasn’t supposed to.
It doesn’t mean they settled nor does it mean I am doing something wrong. I’m not unqualified or stupid. It just means I was trying to conform to be something I am not. Other things I am not? Patient, reserved, or malleable. These traits aren’t bad, so long as I am in the right place doing what I am supposed to do.
We are not all made from the same mold. If I was formed in a flamingo candy mold, you can’t force me back into the bin for hippos. I won’t fit. The sooner we begin to understand these things, the easier life becomes. It shouldn’t be a negative when we discover that we will never be a certain something. We should praise ourselves for checking off yet another thing we were not destined to do.
Psalm 139: 13-15 says,
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”
We are not created to be the best at everything, but we have not been put here to be the worst either – that is just something that we create in our own minds. It is our own responsibility to discover what we are destined to be – professionally, romantically, and most importantly, personally.
The only comparison that is necessary in this life is the one in which we assess our own growth. “Am I better today than I was yesterday?”