I can’t help but to continue to reflect on my Backroads bike trip in Hawaii. During one of our evening dinners, a fellow guest said something that really impacted me. It was so basic. Something I already knew. Yet, I continue to replay the words in my mind … even a month later.
At dinner, I made the heartfelt comment to a family that they seemed perfect. I meant this. The two young adult daughters got along beautifully during the trip. I could tell the young ladies’ parents were really enjoying their interactions with both daughters. They reminded me of a more grown-up version of one of my favorite childhood toy doll sets: The Sunshine Family. When I made the “perfect family” statement, one of the guests at the table commented, “You’re not seeing behind the curtain.” I almost had to laugh. His bluntness caught me off guard. However, he hit the nail on the head.
In reality, we only know what is really going on “behind the curtain” with people with whom we are intimately connected. We all live our public lives somewhat guarded. Actually, I’ll go one step further. Most of us, want to present ourselves in the best light possible when on stage.
Take social media, (a.k.a Facebook) for instance. I never select the less flattering photo to post. (And believe me. I have far more bad photos of myself than good!) My life on social media may be portrayed entirely differently than what it is in reality. After all, I’m putting my best foot forward in front of the curtain.
In my book, If You Give a Mom a Marathon, I talk quite a bit about my family. Next to God, the most important relationships I have are with the members of my family. I love them dearly. However, when I compare them to the “Sunshine Family” of my Backroads trip, my family looks dysfunctional. My kids would have not have peacefully cycled together up and down the volcanoes of the Big Island. There would have been a lot of fighting.
When I complimented the “Sunshine Family”, I was really making a comparison. I was comparing the on-stage performance of this “perfect family” to the behind-the-curtain reality of my own family. I’m sure my family is probably normal. Anytime you have a large family which contains vastly different personality traits, there’s bound to be tension, disagreement, and fighting. Though it’s normal to compare, the reminder of the wise guest next to me was that I was comparing apples to oranges: a guarded display of behavior compared to the behind-the-scenes perspective of my own life.
I can’t help but to apply this “behind the curtain” reminder to my marathon journey. I often find myself scrolling through social media, thinking … “I wish I could run as fast as her.” Or … “I wish I had more of a runner’s build like her.” It’s so easy and natural to compare. However, I may be comparing my backstage reality to someone’s on-stage performance.
Another good reminder not to make comparisons can be found in the Bible. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” Hebrews 12:1.
There will always be people (and families) who appear to be more put-together, more talented, more attractive. In reality, though, I was born with the tools I need to finish my God-given race. And when it’s time for my curtain call, at the end of my race, I know who I want to applaud my performance. It’s not the “Sunshine Family” or even a member of my own family. It’s God who I ultimately aim to please at the finish line.
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This post was written by Michelle Walker