We just got two dwarf hamsters. They are tiny and adorable. So, when my son begged me for a larger breed, I thought that one hamster is like another. He wanted the big kind, the Syrian hamster, and I was all for it. I mean, in comparison, they are both hamsters. How bad could it be? Oh wow. Big mistake! Tiny dwarf hamsters, like we had, are so clean and unobtrusive. You hardly know they are there. They take so little space, and don’t stink. In fact, their pee smells like popcorn.
A Syrian hamster is twice the size of a dwarf hamster and, though also cute, smells awful! And ours liked to throw her poop all over the place. In comparison, a dwarf hamster will ‘go’ in one corner of the cage. Our new hamster was very active, which we loved, but her smell filled up the house within a few days. It was so potent! And her smell only seemed to grow as she got older. On top of that, I am allergic to her. Sadly, she had to go back to the pet store, because one hamster is NOT like the other.
I have also learned a painful lesson about hamster wheels. We had ones that sat straight up, and the space saving feature was wonderful. But with the larger hamster we got a larger cage for it, and I read that the ones shaped like a flying saucer were more ergonomic for the hamster’s running style. So, I got it, feeling like a responsible hamster parent.
WELL, what they don’t tell you is that many hamsters (as babies especially) will pee in their wheel as they run. Thus, we ended up with very stinky hamster pee being thrown all around the room as our new hamster ran and peed, ran and peed. It was quite the disgusting trauma!
So, I have learned that one hamster wheel is NOT like another. Just like one hamster is not like another. (For hamsters, comparisons are important!)
I was so wrong in my thinking about hamsters. Just because they both have the same label doesn’t mean my experiences would be the same with them. It’s a lot like people. No two of us are the same. So why do we spend so much time comparing ourselves? We are all human, but that’s where a majority of the comparisons stop. Each person is so unique and wonderful with different talents and abilities.
As children of God, we are His kids. We are made exactly as we were supposed to be, because God doesn’t make mistakes. So the curly hair I see in the mirror, that gives me no end of frustration, is a gift from Him. And the fact that I am bigger than the girls in the magazines is also intentional. I don’t need to be forcing myself to fit anyone’s mold because I already fit God’s mold for me.
Albert Einstein said: “We are all geniuses, but if we judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Man, I so wish I had really thought that through when I was a teen and a young adult. I spent so many years feeling fat because my waist line was not the same size as my roommates who were a head shorter than I was.
I look back at those pictures now and see a very skinny girl. But I was so stuck on comparing myself that I couldn’t see it at the time. I even remember measuring my wrists and feeling inadequate. Now before I go on, I must tell you that I am 5’10”. So, there is no way that I was going to wear the same size as my 5’4” roommates unless I was ready to be hospitalized.
Let’s get back to the idea of God’s mold.
“God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect. Let me add, God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not. And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others– usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths…as a result we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.” -Dieter F Uchtdorf “Forget Me Not” OCt 2011
That’s what is the real tragedy of comparison, isn’t it? Elder Uchtdorf said it so beautifully. We need to be celebrating our good efforts. We need to be grateful for our blessings. And that requires that we stop comparing ourselves to all the other humans.
My son recently started a new school in an upscale area about 30 minutes from our house. It’s a long drive! But the school is exactly what he needs. After I drop my son off, I have plenty of time to drive around and marvel at some of the huge houses in this town.
I have found myself drooling more than once. Now don’t get my wrong, our house is beautiful, but it’s always tempting to imagine living in other places (at least for me). But we are SO BLESSED. Comparing our house to the huge ones in that town is foolish and makes me forget how lucky we are.
So I have a challenge for you, and for me. Let’s make an effort to stop comparing. Stop thinking of a nicer house, a perfectly behaved family, even great hair.
We are blessed with everything we need to become all that God has in mind for us. And let me tell you, His vision is far better than ours. He will (and does) support us on our journey back to Him, no matter how hard the challenge.
The Adversary plants these tempting comparisons in our minds to distract us and cloud our vision. But if we can stay focused and free ourselves of comparisons, we will have joy. As we look around at the blessings we have been given and take the time to thank God for them and be grateful, our lives will be richer and more rewarding. And personally, I’m going to stop making comparisons. I’m only in competition with myself.
Abby is a one of those women who accidentally finds herself on the PTA board. She loves to be involved, and nothing matters more to her than her family and her faith. She comes from a family with many autistic members. And now she gets to see how her mother felt raising an autistic son. As she wades into this new world, she invites us to join her. Hopefully, we will all learn something new along the way. If you or a family member have autism yourself, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. It's just an adjustment, and you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will learn this new language.