I walked up to my mom friends as my kids joined theirs for open play at a local gym. We are three stay-at-home moms who all live in the same suburb of a suburb of a major city in Tennessee. “I just felt so judged, you know?” I heard one friend lament as I approached. The night before, she had been at a function for her husband’s company, meeting the wives of some coworkers. She went on to tell me about sharing with them what she “does” and where she lives, and how their faces became less and less interested in her with each answer. Apparently, most of the women she spoke with worked outside of the home and lived in just the first suburb.
We’ve all been in similar situations. The new acquaintance asks a question about your address, job, family status, and as soon as your answer passes your lips their opinion of you is obvious on their face. Not good enough. As little as this person’s opinion of you should matter, you are the one spending the rest of the night mulling the two-second conversation over in your mind, almost convincing yourself that it’s true. Maybe in your circles the norm you don’t fit is your schooling or career choice, a choice to be single or not have kids, telling someone you have a “furbaby”… there seems to be no limit to what can be scrutinized!
Can we take a step back? I am constantly surprised with how quickly I can get tunnel vision, so focused on the people I can see here in front of me, or even on a social media feed. Imagine the camera zooming out from this room, to this building, to this street, to this city, to this county. Even just zooming out to here, the landscape is probably going to look a lot like me. I see men and women who are all mostly facing similar choices, with relatively similar circumstances and resources. That county is in a state, in a region, in a country, on a continent. Now we’re getting a clearer picture. Keep going. The continent is surrounded by oceans, and suddenly all you see is the world.
This world is full of people of all shades from deep black to stark white. There are people dressed as extravagantly as royalty to wearing absolutely nothing at all. There are people living in homes as large and high-tech as a space station to whatever tree branches could be gathered together. Every person is doing work, some are sitting at desks, some out in dirt, some in homes. The comparison game is not so easy to play now. I couldn’t plop myself down in rural China and compare myself to a governor’s wife with one child. Nor could I take a farmer from Mozambique and stand him next to my father to see how they “stack up”. The small nuances we use to compare ourselves to others suddenly lose their importance, but we all have some pretty important things in common.
We have all been born, we all grow, and as we do we try to improve ourselves, our surroundings, our circumstances. We all have families and friends and goals. They take different shape within different cultures, but at the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best. Those of us that call upon the name of the Lord know that even that will never be good enough, and it’s only by His grace and power that we can ever do anything worthwhile. So I say let’s all extend a little grace, to others, and to ourselves. Don’t let that stranger’s face, that friend’s post, that comment from your mom define you or measure your worth, not even for a second. Let’s think twice before measuring someone else by the circumstances of their life, especially if we do not know them very fully. Praise God He knows us completely, and loves us all immensely. What if we looked at each other with His lens?