While growing up, I had a reputation for being a happy, smiling kid. I frequently got asked if I ever felt upset or had a day when I didn’t smile. The answer, my friends, is yes! I have a lot to be grateful for and am generally happy. However, like anyone else, I have days where I am tired, stressed and glum. Although I don’t like pessimism, I’ve realized over the last few years that being “real” is important to me. I believe that it’s okay to experience and respect our feelings – happy, sad, worried, stressed, frustrated, angry, excited, lonely, whatever they may be. Opposition in all things means that we have good days, bad days, sad days and happy days. It’s taken me a while to realize that experiencing feelings is part of a healthy life. Making sure that we have healthy reactions to our feelings is one of life’s challenges.
In the spirit of being real, I wanted to share something I’ve learned about myself. On many occasions I’ve fallen into the comparison trap. I look at the lives of those around me and think, “Wow, she has a perfect life.” Yes, I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of comparing my weaknesses with the strengths of others. I realize that no one has a perfect life and that comparing is neither helpful nor encouraging. Comparing myself to others usually results in either a frantic pace to accomplish as much as I perceive others accomplishing or feelings of guilt and frustration. Generally it’s some combination of all of those reactions. Living at a frantic pace definitely does not work for me and creates even greater stress, frustration and discouragement. Despite recognizing all of that, it’s still challenging for me to remember not to compare myself to others.
During one particularly difficult day, I came across this great quote from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: “Let me cite a hypothetical example of a dear sister in any ward, the one who has perfect children who never cause a disturbance in church. She is the one working on her 20th generation in her family history, keeps an immaculate home, has memorized the book of Mark, and makes wool sweaters for the orphaned children in Romania. No disrespect, of course, intended for any of these worthy goals. Now, when you get tempted to throw your hands in the air and give up because of this dear sister, please remember you’re not competing with her any more than I’m competing with the members of the Quorum of the Twelve in winning a 50-yard dash. The only thing you need to worry about is striving to be the best you can be. And how do you do that? You keep your eye on the goals that matter most in life, and you move towards them step by step.” (“One Step after Another”, October 2001).
I’d like to recommit to being real with those around me, taking my life one step at a time, not comparing my life to the lives of others and remembering to not run faster than I have strength.
In case anyone else struggles with similar feelings, I’ve also love this counsel from Elder Holland: “I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other.” (“The Other Prodigal”, April 2002).
So, I’ll try to be real with you and want you to feel comfortable being real with me. We’re not perfect but we’re walking the path of life together and trying to be a little better with each step.