Many years ago I used to compare my life and the dreams that I had envisioned for myself against that of my twin brothers life. Our entire lives we were compared to one another by others, therefore as we grew older it seemed natural to compare where our lives were similar and where they were different. Our entire childhood had been spent sharing everything; our bedroom, our clothes, our friends, our birthdays; everything. I remember going to friends houses alone and the first question asked was always, Where’s Joe? Our identities as a children were completely intertwined with one another.
As we have gotten older and each had our children, the differences in our lives have been significant. I am deeply grateful for the success my brother has experienced with his family. While I am deeply grateful for his success happiness, over the years I have struggled as a result of these comparisons that have been made throughout our lives. With the choices of my ex and the impact it has taken on my dreams for my family and children, the challenges we have each faced have been extremely different. My brother has been able to be with his children everyday of their lives, I on the other hand have been shortchanged in this regard and get 6 days a month to be a dad. This comparison would always be brought up whenever I would run into anyone who knew the two of us, as the first question always asked is, how’s Joe? I would always be asked about his family and how they were doing while trying to avoid the subject for me.
I found over the years that comparing the family my brother had and the family I desired was destroying me. I would avoid family gatherings, unless of course I had my children with me. I built walls around me as protection against the blatant difference in our lives as we are still being compared by so many of those who know us. I closed off as I continually heard I’m so sorry about what your going through. I am so happy for your brother. Why couldn’t others be happy for me too?
Finally after many years of avoiding comparisons in life, I gained the wisdom and the strength to put things in their proper perspective. I discovered the personal strength, the wisdom and the character that I had been able to develop as a result of the challenges I had been faced with in my life. The growth within myself that I experienced could not have come in any other way. The man I am today is a direct result of the life I have been given and without these differences in our lives I could not have become what I needed to become. I could never have become what I have become without first facing the challenges I have been given my past. I am profoundly grateful for these differences in my life when I realize the strength I have developed within me.
While others may continue to compare my life with that of my dear twin, I no longer fall victim to that game. Our lives are richly blessed and forever intertwined. We will always be twins and with that there will always be comparisons.
It is easy for many of us to get caught up comparing our lives with that of others. We long to be like them or have what they have, for some reason or another. These comparisons may seem normal, however as we compare our lives with anyone else we will always lose. Our individuality is what makes each of us great and unique! When we waste our time comparing we lose the time that could be spent being one of a kind. We aren’t meant to all be the same. There is tremendous power in each of us and the differences within us.
We have all heard the mantra “No Pain, No Gain”. We see this in the local gym and is referred to most often in terms of exercise and physical fitness. This too applies to personal growth.
I have often stated that I would never change anything in my life because the struggles I have personally experienced have made me the man that I am today. I look back over my challenges and I can see clearly the growth in personal strength, an increase in my compassion, understanding and wisdom that could never have been developed within me without the struggles of life. Just as in the gym, with pain comes gain. The greater the pain, the greater the opportunity for gain.
Our lives are filled with wonder, opportunities and joys. Many times these treasures are overshadowed by the heartache, grief and sorrow that also come with life. I have many family and friends whom have experienced much greater trials and obstacles than my own. As I have watched the different methods that each of them have employed in overcoming said obstacles I am struck by the differences in personal outcome depending upon the method chosen to handle the trials.
There are several differing ways that people handle trials. One is to blame others, including God. Another is to accept that trials are a part of this life and try with grace and dignity to overcome them.
Life is not fair! There are no limits to challenges that some will face.
My experience with those that play the blame game in their trials in life actually create more obstacles and hurt in life. As we blame others, we build the walls that keep out the very help that we can receive from others that will aide us in overcoming. Blaming creates hate and poison within us that actually cause us further harm, it weakens us physically, mentally and spiritually thus creating for ourselves additional challenges and trials in life. This includes the blame game that many play of blaming themselves. Blaming others or ourselves actually creates PAIN, where there can be NO GAIN.
When we choose to accept the trials that are before us, no matter the difficulty or the journey with the effort to understand and use them for personal growth and development we allow others into our lives whom can help us and oftentimes teach us through their own experiences in ways to handle trials with dignity. Trials in life are meant to help us gain something that we could otherwise not achieve. Some of the greatest leaders that have ever lived have experienced tremendous personal loss and burdens in their lives. Great leaders have always used that heartache to grow and then share that growth and wisdom they have learned in ways that lift and help others they encounter.
I have had opportunities in life where I have been able to experience the pain that deep personal heartache can bring. I have spent times on both sides of this equation. It is through the deepest of despair that I led myself into while blaming others for choices that affected me that I was taught this lesson. When I began to embrace my heartache with the knowledge that I was going through this and I could come out a bitter individual or a wiser one, I chose the latter. It wasn’t easy to change my outlook. I am deeply grateful that I did.
Tremendous growth comes from tremendous pain when allowed to work within us. When against our challenges, and we play the blame game we create more pain and postpone the gain or growth that will occur within us. Our perseverance and acceptance will help us through our struggles in the healthiest manner possible, which will more fully open our eyes to the wonder, opportunities and joy of life that exist for each of us thus enabling each of us to grow and become what we are destined to become.