Friday, March 15, 2013

Why I Seldom Make Comparisons

"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" ... said by nearly every mother on the planet. :)


I'm so enjoying The Cat, The Professor and The Poison by Leann Sweeney. Her first book in the series was a delight, but I'm enjoying this one even more.

And you know? I hesitate to say that because rarely do I make comparisons in this blog. Or well, in Real Life, either. Why not? Because God showed me way (way, way, way) back at age 15 that comparisons can hurt peoples' feelings. 

See, the year before, 'Brenda' and I were hired as a pair of workers to clean the home of a family who 'bought us' at a church auction for a day of doing household chores (the proceeds went toward our youth group activities, I believe). We had a pleasant time dusting and washing things and pausing for lunch at the kitchen table.

The following year at the auction, Brenda was hired-out with 'Nancy' and I still recall how, the next day, she and Nancy laughed about the terrific fun they'd had washing windows while making silly faces at each other. Then Brenda said, "I had lots more fun this year than last year."

Then she caught herself, (probably when she glimpsed my sad, fake smile) and added, "Oh, but it was fun last year, too, with you."

Heh. I can laugh about it now, but when you're 15, that type of stuff can bug you for a few years. :)

But you know? That moment taught me a lesson: Avoid making subjective comparisons if you can. When you're speaking of two different
items/people/books/experiences, speak about the specific qualities of both. And leave it at that.

I mean, it's not like Leann Sweeney will ever read my blog, but if she did, perhaps she'd think by my statement that her first book lacked something. Maybe she'd read similar reviews and mine would only reaffirm her feelings that she should have tried harder with the earlier book.

 Or (more likely) maybe one of you, my blog readers, might absolutely, positively love Leann's first book yet didn't care for her second and perhaps a thoughtless comparison could reinforce the belief that folks rarely appreciate the same things you do. Your feelings of being the odd guy out, the lone voice crying in the wilderness, might be confirmed, leaving you feeling alienated. Again.

Hmm.. that example may sound trivial, but let's see.... 

Let's say Janey Ray is the singer who makes your heart burst with joy, but then I come along and say, "Oh, that tinny-sounding Janey Ray! I always turn the radio off when she sings. Now, Sue Stu--there's a woman worth listening to!" 

Well, how would that make you feel? 

Or if I made a similar comparison between your favorite preacher or blogger and mine? Or what if I told you berry pies make apple pies taste boring, when unbeknownst to me, apple pie is your favorite food in the world?

Oh, the list is endless about these subjective types of things! God created us all so differently, with unique combinations of tastes and desires, and oh my... I know! It can be hard sometimes not to make comparisons, but instead, to just 1.) simply state what we like and leave it at that and 2.) find the good in what others enjoy and 3.) just let others love what they love, even if we hate it... without trying to hard sell our own likes.

Maybe this all sounds unimportant and trivial and the temptation is to say we should all just grow-up and learn to get over having our likes dismissed and criticized by others. But hey, does anyone really ever grow up that much?

Over and over the Bible tells us to watch our words--that we'll be judged by them, even. And to me? This is a great area in which to take those instructions seriously, for by considering others' feelings we'll be just a bit closer to walking in the kind of love which God says is the most important thing of all. 

And anytime we get closer to doing that, it's a Good Thing.


"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."   ... Matthew 12:37


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Anonymous said...

Certainly can agree with this post!! I think all of us flawed humans have no doubt hurt others, unintentionally, at times in this manner. We so well know what it is like to have to live this way. My in-laws were CONSTANT in doing was always hubby and I, and our children who were less than his sibling and children (though I am not sure they ever singled me out as "less than"). Strangely, they never apparently saw how harmful this was, actually to the favored as well as the less favored. It is something passed down through the generations I think. I should have known that such would be our lot...but it took over a decade before I "gave up" to expecting anything to change. One thing that will forever remain in my memory was when the in-laws went on some little trip someplace and brought back a small toy for our little son...and for the nephew about the same age. My mil proudly told me what she had gotten for the nephew and then said, "And I got this CHEAPER toy for your son." Wow, I was surely not expecting that. IN fact, it never even entered my mind as to what the toys cost...I would never have asked nor cared. But something like that MAKES you care. This was surely not the last such remark. She died, never understanding how all her years of comparing her children and grandchildren set it up for there to be no closeness between them. Rather sad when you only have 2 children and 5 grandchildren. I do not think any of our 3 children or we are bitter. Sad, but not bitter. But life is made up of so many situations where you simply make the best lemonade you can from whatever lemons are dealt to you. I think one reason GOD allows us to suffer, is so we can be of comfort to others. And it changes our own behaviors too. I so loved marrying into my in-law took 17 years for me to see that nothing I ever did would make one bit of difference. So I continued on treating them so well as I could and not worrying nor caring that they did not love me. I still wish they had loved my children and hubby more. But both of us are ok with how things are now. Living a continent away helps too. (Not the reason we came East...but a nice benefit).

May we never do to our offspring what was done to us!! I try VERY hard to be as equal as humanly possible between all my grandchildren (now 5 with 2 more coming this year). I do not feel one bit of difference in how much I love them...though each is individual in their own way. Life is such a gift from GOD; may we always view it as such!!
Elizabeth in VA

Sandra Vick said...

Debra, thank you for this important reminder, about the power of our words, to empower or destroy. Your daily posts, inspire me!