Saturday, February 2, 2013

comparing myself to others: I always come up short

It's hard not to compare myself to others.
Especially others in the church.
My church, in particular.

I go to a church that is marked by an amazing sense of community and family -- a church where people will repeatedly sacrifice for the good of others.  It is the norm for many people to go above and beyond to help each other out -- to serve -- to give.

Image by Calotype46 on flickr

And so when I hear pleas for help with something and again, I have to say no, I feel... like a failure.  Or even more than that -- like a sinner.  Like I am sinning against the Lord.  I also feel like something must be wrong with me.  I would like to be a blessing to others but in my efforts to protect and preserve myself, I feel burdened by inadequacy. 

The thing is, I spent most of my life saying, "Yes," to almost anything.  As we became more and more involved in the church, I realized that saying, "Yes," all the time was incredibly unhealthy -- for me and my family.  For whatever reason, every, "Yes," said was another thing to cause me anxiety or exhaustion, and I lived life in a lot of stress.

So I started saying, "No."  In fact, I say, "No," to almost anything.  Almost is key here -- I have done a few things for VBS, the Christmas show, and occasionally sing a Sunday morning song -- but that's all I can do.

All around me, I see people doing so much more than I am doing -- for their community, family, and church.  And these aren't just super healthy people, but people who have greater ailments than pregnancy-induced-exhaustion.  But a big part of me has learned my limits over the years, and in order to stay sane, collected, and peaceful for my family, I have to put as little as possible on my plate.  That's how I operate.  However, I can't shake the sense that perhaps this is a character flaw.  Why is it I require so much downtime -- so much retreat?

Some would say having this knowledge of myself is wisdom, but there's always another side to every coin, right?

The other side to the coin is that I struggle with deep-rooted selfishness.  Now before you say we all do, I mean -- it is hard for me to be giving/generous and it is hard for me to put people above tasks.  I generally have always put myself first.  Now being a mom has sort of turned this on its head (parenting is all about service and selflessness, don't you think?) but because I know that this selfishness is a habitual thing in my life, I am concerned.  It's such a fine line between being good to myself for the sake of others and being good to myself for the sake of... well, myself.

How can I even begin to know the difference?
  • Have you ever felt this way?  
  • How do you resist the urge to compare yourself to others?
  • How do you know the line between taking care of yourself and being selfish? 

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