I am learning it is NEVER GOOD to compare myself to others. It isn’t necessary to compete with others either. I am coming to understand that it is best to compare and compete only with myself. Am I improving? Am I making progress? This appears to be the best way to grow. It seems when we compare ourselves to others we either end up putting ourselves down or place ourselves above another. Neither seems beneficial. In the New Testament we read these words, “They that compare themselves among themselves are not wise.” I am seeking to be the best ME that I can be. What a freedom to simply be the best person that I can be. My prayer is to continue to remember this truth and practice it when the inner and outer critics raise their voices. I want to rejoice with everyone, as they become their best selves.
I love Fred Rogers understanding on the importance of accepting our uniqueness. In his book You Are Special: Words of Wisdom for All Ages from a Beloved Neighbor. He says, “What matters most is what children feel about their uniqueness once they do begin to realize they are different from everyone else. How each one of us comes to feel about our individual uniqueness has a strong influence on how we feel about everyone’s uniqueness--whether we grow into adults who rejoice in the diversity of the world’s people or into adults who fear and resent that diversity.”
As I thought about this, the fact that we are created with such uniqueness makes it even clearer to me how comparing ourselves to others really makes no sense. Appreciating one another’s uniqueness and desiring to see all people flourish is a more appealing way.
Douglas Malloch, (1877-1938) a poet and writer said this in an introduction to one of his poems, "We all dream of great deeds and high positions, away from the pettiness and humdrum of ordinary life. Yet success is not occupying a lofty place or doing conspicuous work; it is being the best that is in you. Rattling around in too big a job is worse than filling a small one to overflowing. Dream, aspire by all means; but do not ruin the life you must lead by dreaming pipe dreams of the one you would like to lead. Make the most of what you have and are. Perhaps your trivial, immediate task is your one sure way of proving your mettle. Do the thing near at hand, and great things will come to your hand to be done." The poem was often read on Mr. Rogers show by Emilie Jacobson the “Poetry Lady”. Here are the first and last verses:
If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill,Be a scrub in the valley, but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill,Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail.
If you can’t be a sun, be a star.
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail.
Be the best of whatever you are.
For many years, I lived by what others told me was important and I allowed them to tell me what my gifts were and were not. It was a big mistake. I understand now that it is a beautiful quest to “know and learn of the self that I have been given.” These unique gifts are mine to nurture and share. It is my responsibility to own and use what has been given to me. As one ancient writer has said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." I experienced this firsthand in the years that I did not walk my own journey and I have found this verse to be very true for my own life.
May we all seek to be the unique persons that we are and to become our best, while desiring to see others do the same.