Thursday, April 19, 2012

Remember Show and Tell?

I love show and tell.  I would always think very carefully about what to bring.  What could I show off to the rest of the class?  What would I see and like and then ask my parents for?

The good news is... life hasn't changed much.  Show and tell still exists only it has magnified with the use of social media.  So much so that we find ourselves comparing and feeling as if we've fallen short on a regular basis.  April Perry, one of the co-founders of Power of Moms, an organization I absolutely adore and attended a retreat with back in December, wrote an article about this precise phenomenon, and it has since gone viral.  There are over 800 comments, 600,000 hits on the website, and over 1 million views thus far!  So what's everyone talking about?

Feeling inferior.  Yup, it's pretty common.  We humans like to compare and contrast.  Keeping up with the Jones.  Or the Kardashians for that matter.  We see snippets of a perfect life, blog posts about vacations or other fun places, photos of people jumping in the air, no worries, no financial struggles, no arguments, no difficult children... only happiness, goofiness, smiles, laughter, amazing dinners, outings, or extremely creative projects that blow your mind away without any real sense of how much money or time it all takes.  I know the last part very well as I try to be creative due to my propensity to be cheap, only to always realize the money spent is actually well worth it for how long crafting actually takes (if you don't actually enjoy it that much).

I was further reminded of not comparing or "compare snare" as the Power of Moms likes to call it, with a Conference talk entitled The Laborers in the Vineyard by one of my favorite apostles, Elder Holland.  In his talk, he says,

I wish to speak of the Savior’s parable in which a householder “went out early in the morning to hire labourers.” After employing the first group at 6:00 in the morning, he returned at 9:00 a.m., at 12:00 noon, and at 3:00 in the afternoon, hiring more workers as the urgency of the harvest increased. The scripture says he came back a final time, “about the eleventh hour” (approximately 5:00 p.m.), and hired a concluding number. Then just an hour later, all the workers gathered to receive their day’s wage. Surprisingly, all received the same wage in spite of the different hours of labor. Immediately, those hired first were angry, saying, “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”1 When reading this parable, perhaps you, as well as those workers, have felt there was an injustice being done here. Let me speak briefly to that concern.

First of all it is important to note that no one has been treated unfairly here. The first workers agreed to the full wage of the day, and they received it. Furthermore, they were, I can only imagine, very grateful to get the work. In the time of the Savior, an average man and his family could not do much more than live on what they made that day. If you didn’t work or farm or fish or sell, you likely didn’t eat. With more prospective workers than jobs, these first men chosen were the most fortunate in the entire labor pool that morning.
He says a lot of other great stuff - if you want to read his talk, it's here but here's my favorite part a little further along:

As the householder in the parable tells them (and I paraphrase only slightly): “My friends, I am not being unfair to you. You agreed on the wage for the day, a good wage. You were very happy to get the work, and I am very happy with the way you served. You are paid in full. Take your pay and enjoy the blessing. As for the others, surely I am free to do what I like with my own money.” Then this piercing question to anyone then or now who needs to hear it: “Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?
Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.

Conference is always fun because you feel like the talks are especially targeted for you.  I felt that way with this talk, wondering how he knew I was comparing myself or even feeling envious of other people's good fortunes, wondering when my own blessings would arrive despite already having blessings of my own (don't we all do that? well, maybe just me).

So we really should stop comparing.  Stop thinking what we see or what we hear being the whole story.  Start realizing that everyone has good and bad days.  That perfect body is sometimes photoshopped, perfect skin is sometimes airbrushed, photos are sometimes cropped without all the mess behind the image.  As someone who has definitely felt inferior from time to time, hoping to do more and coming short often, I highly recommend listening to this podcast!  It touches on this concept of grown ups always sort of showing and telling through facebook, Pinterest, Instagram - you name it!  But then it talks about how we can be uplifting and take the good from these sources instead of belittling ourselves and unrealistically desiring more.  Power of Moms Podcast

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