The Curse of Comparison
Since you became a widow, have you ever struggled with comparing yourself or your life situation with that of others? Do you see families around you and wonder why you are the one that lost your husband and instead of some other wife? Why are your kids the fatherless ones? If you have answered yes to these questions, then please know you aren’t alone in feeling this way. We share that in common and many other widows I have met fight against these same thoughts and emotions on a daily basis. It isn’t easy to struggle in the area of comparison. It either makes you feel less than or beneath others by feeling that others have so much more. Or, it can create a sense of pride to compare myself with others who I perceive as having less in life than me or more serious struggles than myself. Either way, the comparison trap is addictive, discouraging, and harmful. It never leads to any good or Godly result.
“Comparison kills contentment,” I was told by a wise widow in her 40s. Allowing my mind to daily be infiltrated by thoughts that render me as “less than” or “not feeling complete or whole” is not God’s plan for me. Yet, though I know this, comparison has seemed to be my default setting during grief. Why does this rude and raunchy guy get to reach his 60s and my humble sweetheart died at 33? Why was he chosen to be born with a serious congenital heart defect and not someone else? How come that couple just celebrated a joyous 50 years together and our beautiful love story never even lasted to 10 years of wedded bliss? Sadly, this intense questioning never comes with answers. The audible voice of God doesn’t share with me his almighty plans that are so vastly different from the way that I would have directed the course of my life. And these types of questions are the absolute hardest to let go of. Accepting these kind of unknowns doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long, painful and prayerful process. Some days I wonder if I will ever be willing to finally lay down the feeling that I have the right to demand these answers from God.
This week marks the beginning of a new school year. What remains of my little family unit is currently able to pursue education in the form of home schooling, supported by two co-ops. Groups of families participate in the activities of their children, attend open gyms, boy scout meetings, 4H, art classes and more. Family becomes the focus and my lack of feeling like a real family anymore comes to forefront. It seems I always feel like I don’t fit in basically any place where a mother and a father would typically be with their children. Restaurants, amusement parks, tourist traps, church services, playgrounds, the list is endless. I can’t escape it. The only young widow in my entire church. The only young widow in my family. The only widow in both home school communities with the only children who don’t go home to a Daddy they can talk to about the ups and downs of their day. We aren’t like them. I have no husband. My children have no father. How did I go from the happiest and most joyous sense of belonging to the most painful sense of feeling like I live in a world I no longer belong in?
I wish there were easy answers to these tormenting questions. Sadly I cannot say I have conquered that comparison trap. One thing that eases the struggle a bit is to try to change my thinking pattern to the “haves” in my life instead of the “have nots” Another is to remember that as a follower of Christ, no hardship can ever compare in severity to all he suffered on the cross for my sins and for those of the whole world. Sometimes just taking a moment to remember his suffering seems to make mine a little more bearable, if only for a few moments.
How do you cope with the curse of comparison?
In Hope & Prayers,
This Widow Mama