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  • Katie Smith

Comparatively Speaking




There are two types of comparisons. Those which are analogous by nature and those serving authoritative purposes. The former is used in conjunction with analogies for purposes of understanding great concepts. The latter simply serves as opinionated judgement.


Like any parent, God uses comparisons, to help us comprehend life, likening us to clay, dust, branches, and seeds to name a few. He also depicts heaven with several analogous parables that we can understand easier than the actual concept of life after death, like a mustard seed or hidden treasure.


On the other hand, we are warned numerous times not to compare ourselves to other human beings because that's simply foolish (2 Cor 10:12) (Gal 6:4). Such warnings are akin to teaching a child not to run after a ball that's heading into rush hour traffic. Our natural instinct may be to grab our beloved toy, but wisdom would have us learn safety first. I believe we are given multiply warnings because God knew we would struggle with these distinctions.


There's nothing wrong with comparing in order to empathize or relate to others, but the dangers are always lurking when we sit and stare rather than sit and share. Social media has made the comparison game even more accessible, but our current global pandemic has brought back the days of stoop sitting and resident watching. A month ago many families were too busy bustling to and fro to stop and say hello to their neighbors. Now we are anxiously becoming busybodies checking in with anyone six feet away from us.


I will never equate to Jane Austen, Maya Angelou, or Joanna Gaines, and I shouldn't strive to compare my life with theirs. Nor should I make others mimic my organized outline or suggested framework. Yet, I do have experiences to share, and if they can help anyone through anything (as analogies help us grapple with truth), then they are worth sharing.


Often during wartime, those outside a warzone grapple with guilt that they feel when frustrations occur over simple daily disruptions. Knowing others, not far away, are experiencing life and death at its hardest, puts an added strain of shame on their natural emotions. We must remember during our own infectious war to share in kindness, not compare in bitterness, only then can we create a road to cure our larger issue of comparison, and hopefully COVID-19 simultaneously.


As I empathized and agonized today with parents who cannot visit their babies in ICUs (all four of mine stayed for various lengths and reasons), I also had to stop kicking myself for being bothered by close-quarter annoyances. Life continues for many no matter the COVID crisis.


I heard this week of new engagements, pregnancies, births, deaths, diagnoses, anniversaries and surgeries. Life continues, despite wars or quarantines, and I cannot carry the emotions of the world, but I can use what I know. We will receive only the strength and mercy we need for today. Tomorrow we will receive enough for that day. I received more mercies when I visited the NICU for 150 days straight in 2015, and I pray those mercies anew for current corona patients.


For today: remember to take time apart from each other in comparison. It may seem strange when we are all physically apart right now, but little ones (and big ones for that matter) need time to be alone without a screen or a sibling to decompress and process this new norm. Here are some tips for quiet time in your quarantine... nothing you couldn't conjure up yourself, but again, I'm not trying to be Marie Kondo ;)


 

Quiet time in Quarantine


What?

Read

Sketch

Listen

Write

Sleep


(screen-free if applicable)


Where?

A space alone even if it just a slightly different space

Hammock

Bed

Couch

Floor

Beanbag

Tree (yes we've done this)


When?

Usually in the afternoon after lunch once you've had a full day around the same people.

Length depends on age. Anywhere from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours.

Adjust according to the day.

Life doesn't always flow with our plans so be flexible, yet if they are little, there may be some firmness and consistency to slowing them down for a short time, knowing it will benefit everyone in the end.


How?

Portable AM/FM radio (my son with some special developmental delays struggles listening and reading to stories for too long, instead we found some days just listening to our little portable radio on a safe station that he can't change was a great quiet time distraction for him)

There's also a plethora of safe children's story podcasts out there for searching. Just find what works and every day looks a little different for each person.


When we are all home all the time, we must reflect and rejuvenate daily to keep going with grace.

Let me know if you have other ideas to share!



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