Last fall, I celebrated the big 4-0.
Years ago, for a friend’s 40th, her husband got all her girlfriends together for a surprise slumber party while he & their boys went elsewhere for the night. I loved the idea and ever since have said I wanted a big party for my 40th birthday. So with much help from Pinterest, I managed to pull off a lovely turquoise, yellow & grey candlelit evening party. Twenty five of my friends and coworkers came to help me celebrate my birthday in style. My husband even surprised me by flying my sister (aka best friend) up from Florida to celebrate with me!
We had heavy hors d’oeuvres and multiple delicious sweets, with everything set up outside. My sister & I strategically placed lights or candles around the entire backyard so as the sun set the yard magically transformed into a twinkling wonderland. After everyone left and all the food was put away, my sister and I sat outside by the fire for another hour, enjoying the twinkly lights and conversation. It was a wonderful night! I had a lovely time and I think my friends enjoyed themselves.
Two weeks later, things got ugly when I stumbled across a blog I had not read before.
The blogger had just turned 40.
She planned a huge outdoor party.
And she invited all her girlfriends.
Her colors were vibrant purples and pinks, the decorations were so cute, and she had beautiful favors to give away, made by a couple of home businesswomen/bloggers whose products I admire.
Comparing my party to hers – her party was Cinderella’s castle and my party was a Barbie Townhouse. You know, the cardboard one from the 1970s.
Of course, therein lies the problem: I compared them. I took a stranger’s glowing depiction of her party, compared that to the hard work and glitches I experienced in my own event, and immediately determined mine did not match up.
How to be miserable?
This is an easy one – compare what you’re doing with people around you. People who may not have gone through the same things you’ve gone through or people who are in a different place in life than you. People who may struggle as much as you do but just don’t show it or aren’t well enough acquainted with you. Do this and you’ll end up miserable every time.
So how to not be miserable?
I think Paul says it best in Philippians 4. It’s just too good. You should read the whole chapter, but here are some of the best bits:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
– Philippians 4:4-9, 11-13, 19-20 ESV (emphases mine)
What more could I possibly add to this? Be thankful; rejoice in what you have; always keep your thoughts on good things; and be content in every circumstance. Know that God is the one who gives us every good thing that we have. Doing these things will go a long way to keeping yourself from being miserable.
So, I’m learning to not compare my life to the lives of others. Frankly, it’s hard to do sometimes. I feel like I’m making improvements when I catch myself in the middle of comparing and am able to turn my thoughts to those things that are of excellence or worthy of praise. Most often, I can only accomplish this by turning my thoughts into prayers. It can be a daily struggle.
What about you? Have you learned this secret or do you still struggle like me with comparing yourself to others?