As my fingers pecked on my laptop while I lay in the living room floor, my elbows ached and my wrists grew tired. My position was far from the correct posture deemed so important by Mrs. Hussey, my eighth grade keyboarding teacher. But it was the only position that didn’t cause me pain. The day before, I had written a blog post at my desk, my back and leg aching the entire time. I had to stop and take a break midway through, then trudge through the rest.
Later that night, lying on my stomach while trying to ease the pain caused by a bulging disc, my mind wandered to a frightening possibility. Maybe I’m going to have to quit writing for now. My pain had only worsened in the six months since I began noticing it, and I was growing weary. Writing for long periods – whether at a desk or on lying on my stomach, was wearing on me.
Then I started reflecting on how quitting had never crossed my mind as I was writing. I simply changed positions, took breaks, and just learned to live with it for the sake of what I love doing.
Maybe I am stronger than I think I am.
I’ve never considered myself strong. I get depressed easily, my feelings are hurt far too quickly, and I never even considered not having an epidural in childbirth, for goodness sake.
I Know What Strong Looks Like.
And if you know my mom, you do, too. She has always been strong, but her strength has never been on such humble display as it has since she has been battling cancer for over two years.
Her inner strength has allowed her to overcome losing both parents early in life and trust God through years of infertility. It allowed her to sit stone-faced while hearing whispers of criticism about her husband.
Her outer strength has baffled doctors as she rarely has the side effects of medical procedures or chemotherapy like most patients. She forces herself to get up and going on days she’d rather stay in bed. She pushes through pain to be able to spend time with her grandchildren.
Yes, I know what strength looks like. And it’s not me.
Or is it?
Perhaps, somehow, my mom’s strength hasn’t skipped a generation after all. Perhaps I possess more strength than I realize.
The Comparison Trap
It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and believe we don’t possess a trait simply because we don’t possess it in as large of measure as we see in someone else.
We think we’re not compassionate because we don’t get as easily moved to tears as a friend.
We think we aren’t good at Bible study because we don’t glean the same insights as another.
We think we’re not good enough moms because our walls aren’t decorated with chore charts and Bible verses like we see on Pinterest.
These insecurities are problematic for two reasons. First, appearances aren’t what they seem. (I’m sure Mom has her weak moments, after all.) Plus, when we’re focused on how others are better at something than we are, we miss what we are good at, what we can offer.
Second, we make assumptions on our own strengths and gifts based on the measure of others’ strengths and gifts, which only leads to skewed thinking.
Just because I think my mom is stronger than I am, doesn’t mean I’m not strong in my own way. If I were to allow this flawed thinking to continue, it would be easy to give up and not embrace the strengths and gifts that are uniquely me.
We must silence the comparison talk in our heads. Because most likely, we are stronger (or more compassionate, more intuitive, more creative…) than we think.
Do you tend to give up or get discouraged in areas where you see others exceling, thinking you can’t measure up?
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