It's Monday night. President's Day. Late . . . ish. The kids are in bed. The coolers and suitcases from our weekend cabin trip are mostly put away (or, at least, set in spots where they can "wait 'til later"). The throw up that one child managed to keep in through nearly two hours of carsick driving (only to lose the minute we turned onto our street) has been taken care of (and the necessary baths given). And a load of vacation laundry is in the wash.
I've just used a butter knife to roughly chop two chunks from the block of cheese in our fridge (to go along with a handful of Ritz crackers) and am sitting here at the computer ready for a little introspection.
Introspection that is necessary because lately I've found myself slipping down that path of comparison. That path of "Suddenly I am less than . . .". That path that goes something like, "If I just had that talent, if I were just at that weight, if I just had that hair. If I just had those adventures, that amount of freedom, or that opportunity. If I just had that influence, that ability, that order, or that amount of time. . . ."
And then? Then what? IF I did have then I'd be . . . ? Happy? Happier? Perfectly confident? More content? Better than? More loved? More admired? More approved of by my fellow men? More approved of by God?
I don't even know. I don't even know what all my "if I just"s would ever accomplish. When I look at those questions I see the utter nonsense of the comparing -- of the discontent and self-belittling thoughts. Because would I trade the things I have? Any of them for any of the things I'm coveting? No. And, as I stop and think on what those are, the things I have and the things I am, no again! Heaven's no! No trading my voice to the sea witch for a pair of legs.
Which leaves me here with . . . myself. Me. As I am. Not as anyone else. My little talents as they are. My sense-of-humor. My insights. My knowledge (and even sometimes wisdom) gained from my very own years of living and experiencing and learning. My physical self. My opportunities and experiences and gifts and joys. My . . . little realm and circle of existence. My own unique trials and insecurities and challenges. And, if I stop the wallowing, even my every further and future possibility, potential and opportunity.
And when I stop and look at it from outside for a minute. When I look at my Mike. The difficulties and joys of having a house full of eight children. When I consider what I've learned and how I've grown through my weaknesses and troubles. When I think of the bits of things I am able to do with my writing and my photography. When I think of the people I love. The circle of people I can rely on. When I think of those many specific souls I've made (or perhaps just rekindled) eternal connections with during my years here on earth. The places I've lived. When I think of the details of my existence and my very own unique life I realize it's all here. Everything I need to feel worth and value and satisfaction and joy. I'm reminded, gratefully, of one of my favorite thoughts from Elder Maxwell which is this:
"No one is placed exactly as we are in our opportune human orbits."
I'm placed here. Right where I am. To experience and influence and learn in my own completely unique sphere. Just like all of you.
I love when I remember that God is aware of the details of our existences and what we need to live and have in order to become who He knows (and we have mostly forgotten) we want to be. How about a bit more from my old pal Maxwell?
"Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem? It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone. We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate."
So. While I am sure this ugly battle with comparing or feeling "less than" will need to be waged again and again in my life; at least for today, I've done a 180. I'm now marveling that my life isn't what anyone else's is -- that it is it's very own utterly unique thing, all for me. I think Jeffrey R. Holland's wife once gave a cool talk on all our lives being threads in a tapestry. Right now no more comparing. I'm weaving my own little stitches and tying my own little knots that I sometimes forget are combining with all of your own patterns and colors to make something pretty glorious.