“I don’t measure up.” Having heard that from my own children, from those I have taught, and having felt it myself from time to time, my thoughts have centered around what we actually mean when we say those words.
What is it we are not measuring up to? Are our expectations self-imposed or do they come from outward influences? Are our expectations unrealistic? Are we unwilling to push ourselves to do better? Or are we merely comparing ourselves to someone else, whose strengths — and weaknesses — are different from ours?
Satan has quite a tool in the “comparison” market. We most always come up “losers,” feeling as though we are not as competent, as smart, as talented, or as accomplished as the next guy. Our ability to judge ourselves properly may be compromised because of the seeming need to compare ourselves with everyone around us — when our journey is a personal one .
What someone else is doing, where he is going, or how he is progressing, is his own journey. How much better would our energies be spent by focusing on how we are doing now compared to how we were doing yesterday, or last week, or last year. Imagine the anxiety that would fall by the way as we give up the idea of comparatively measuring up to someone else!
Who is exactly like me? No one. Who thinks exactly as you do? No one. Isn’t that great? Because we are uniquely individual, our measuring stick is strictly personal, based on our own development, thoughts, needs, and talents. With those unique abilities, we can celebrate the opportunity to grab hold of a new concept, examine it, experiment upon it (both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament invite us to do so), and build on it.
My concern over some personal weakness should not be compared to someone else’s strength. My gifts and strong suits should not dismay another person. Each of us has our weak spots to work through in order to bless us with more dependence upon the Lord. We have our talents in order to build — together — the kingdom. The measuring stick, if used at all, should be a quietly personal one, intended to grant us some measure of peace while we are doing, to the best of our ability, what we ought to be doing!
The poet Edgar Guest offered some wise counsel when he penned these words:
Who does his task from day to day
And meets whatever comes his way,
Believing God has willed it so,
Has found true greatness here below.
Who guards his post, no matter where,
Believing God must need him there,
Although but lowly toil it be,
Has risen to nobility.
For great and low, there’s but one test:
‘Tis that each man shall do his best.
Who works with all the strength he can
Shall never die in debt to man.
Personal abilities and weaknesses, personal tasks and growth — each day becomes easier to enjoy as we learn to make it a truly personal journey, tossing comparisons to our peers out the window.
Interestingly, as we cease the peer comparison, we focus more easily on our great example: the Savior. His loving grace and perfect example gives us energy and strength to continually improve. Our desire to “measure up” shifts from comparisons with others to a hunger to continually become more like Christ himself.
The hymn “Come unto Jesus” invites us to lay down our heavy burdens and our cares. Oppressions that come from outside, as well as those that we create within, may be offered over to the Savior. His measurement system is generous. His acceptance of our part is whole and perfectly correct.
Consider this: A measuring cup has different markings because sometimes we do not need a full cup of sugar. Perhaps only a quarter cup is needed. We will want to add only the called-for teaspoon of ginger, not a tablespoon, if we want a recipe to turn out as intended. More is not necessarily better.
Our part — a full cup worth of humor, a quarter cup of writing ability, a teaspoon of inspired visiting — when done to the best of our ability, is what makes the recipe of our “family of man” work more successfully.
Today, we can decide to stop comparing our lifestyle, our hair, our grades, our body shape, or our talents, to anyone else. We can stop worrying about measuring up to anyone in the world. We are then free to enjoy the life, circumstances, and blessings we have been given. Our “measuring up” is counted worthy because it is ours. When done as best we can, in our uniquely required way, we will see that we do, indeed, measure up!