Here are some statuses from Facebook recently (or, well, semi-recently):
[referring to boyfriend] “Other women, you know you’re jealous that I have such a godly, hard-working, fun, and good-looking man.”
“I tell you, my friends, if I thought this way—if, in other words, I became a consistent Arminian instead of a Calvinist—I should feel almost as though the light had forever gone out of my soul. –J. Gresham Machen, “Constraining Love“”
“Here’s a thing I wonder: do multiple facebook posts about the details of people’s engagements & wedding plans make those not in a relationship feel bad — and if so, is that a reason not to rejoice in what you’re excited about?”
While since the first and last one have to do with boyfriends/fiancés/weddings – it may seem to make sense to list them together. But the middle one? A quote about theology straddled by two reflections on love and marriage?
Here’s what I see that I think connects all of them – an underlying comparisonism. That somehow we can’t just be happy with what we’ve been given (a boyfriend, marriage, theological knowledge) – but that it’s not fully validated until others compare and acknowledge the unmatched fabulousness of what we have. The question in the last status cinches it – When someone is excited about one thing – why does it make someone in the opposite position feel somehow invalidated?
I get this – I really do. When I first started down the path towards becoming an egalitarian, I became the angry feminist version – the type with the hidden (or not so hidden) disappointment at women I viewed as “traitors” – the women whose only aspiration in life was to get married and stay at home with the kids. I was so reveling in the fact that, even as a woman, I had freedom to go where and be who God had called me to be I could not understand the women who excitedly chose to use that freedom to stay at home, supporting a husband and raising kids.
But here’s the thing – that wasn’t a mature way to handle the freedom I was experiencing. In exploring my own freedom, I was ready to limit other women’s freedom. I was ready to discredit their approach to life because I was so enthralled with mine.
We do this all the time. It’s in the “one day you’ll see the light” comments we make to each other when discussing theology, the way to raise kids, the way to balance time commitments. It’s in the “if only you had one too” comments we make when showing of our new boyfriend, home, finished project. It’s in the “oh I could never stand” comments we make about what we perceive to be someone else’s flaws, struggles, imperfections.
Since when do I have a corner on knowledge about the best way to live? On a good, fulfilling life? What makes me think I have the right to make you jealous or feel bad or defective for how your life differs from mine? Last I checked, we were all pilgrims struggling through the journey as best we know how.
There’s enough insecurity-provoking things in this world without forcing one another hold up our lives to the light of our harsh comparisons.