This book's title I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really) grabbed me almost instantly. As the subtitle explained the book's theme as "Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison," I decided that Kay Wills Wyma might be able to offer some insight into a personal struggle I have.
I don't think I realized how bad it was until I found myself identifying with what she wrote on nearly every page.
I have what Kay Wills Wyma calls Obsessive Comparison Disorder.
"Comparison surrounds us so thoroughly that we don't even realize how it's suffocating us, stealing our contentment....The good news is that we can silence comparison when we learn to recognize its insidious invitation to self-obsession. Because really, that's what comparison does; it makes life all about me, how I measure up or fall short."Whether it's a Facebook or Twitter post or a conversation with a friend I run into in the grocery store aisle, I seem compelled to compare my own performance or that of my children to someone else's.
My thoughts take off in a million different directions. "Do I do as much as that other woman at church does? Did her daughter make the team, but not mine? Is my appearance as satisfactory as that other mom I see picking her child up from school? Is my daughter a better piano player than her classmate?"
This book called all these topics to the forefront of my mind and made me realize that comparison is a near constant, though unwelcome, presence in my life. With humor and dignity and plenty of personal examples of her own failures, Kay Wills Wyma calls us to really be content and learn how to be happy for others.
Wyma quotes Jody Capehart as saying, "We are uniquely gifted by God for His purpose. When we rest in His assurance, happy with who we are, we are freed to say to others, 'I am happy for you' - and mean it."
She talks about "yardstick living" - the constant need to measure ourselves or our children against some predetermined measurement. She reminds us instead to strive after our potential - "Not someone else's, not a predetermined spot we measure ourselves against, but our potential. Might focusing on the reality that we each have differing "bests" free us to spur others on to strive after their potential?"
I love Wyma's reminder of how this should look in regards to our children.
"And I asked myself, Am I loving them well? Really loving them for who they are, not who I want them to be or think they ought to be or who society says they should be? Am I loving them for the special individuals they are? Am I helping them discover their unique gifting and building them up in that? Even when such gifting might take them down a road that looks a bit different from what I or everyone around me expects or values?"We can find freedom when we let go of comparison. "The urge to maintain appearances chains us to performance and leads us away from contentment. Freedom comes when we each focus on doing our best rather than being the best."
Just a couple of days ago, I found myself thinking, "Oh, their family did that and we didn't. Are my kids missing out? Should I have done more?" Then I caught myself and realized that comparison was sliding in, no matter how much I've been trying to keep it out.
She so perfectly puts what I want the attitude to be for the children in our home.
"My hope is that home will be a sweet memory for each of them....I hope it's a place where they know they're accepted and loved, regardless of how society says they measure up. A place where their worth is not determined by their ability to act or look a certain way but simply by their being who they were created to be. A place where they're challenged to reach their unique potential and to encourage and celebrate with others as they do the same."Kay summarizes her book with the following: "The source of power - to mentally reboot, refocus perspective, be grateful, manage expectations, and be genuinely happy for others - comes from God, who does it for us."
Yes, if you struggle with comparison and discontentment at times, like I do, read this book. I'm on my second reading, marking more passages so that I can review them in the days to come. May I learn to live in gratitude for how God has made me and our children, seek to reach our own potential, and genuinely celebrate with others in their accomplishments.
Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own and I was not compensated for this review in any other way.