Meters, feet, yards, centimeters, Fahrenheit, miles, liters, cups, minutes, days, hours.
We are surrounded by measurements. We need measurements. If we didn’t have them then we would be incessantly late or always early, our cakes would be disgustingly flat and bland, and we would have no idea if we needed a small, medium, or large in that cute shirt.
But sadly, we have become people obsessed by measurement. And not the “how many feet in a yard” type of measurement, but the “how can I possibly compare to…” type of measurement.
The type of measurement that leaves us always lacking, never good enough, never fully happy.
How do we hold up to the status quo?
How smart are we compared to…
How pretty are we compared to…
How generous, how faithful, how tall, how fast, how successful…
Comparing and measuring, measuring and comparing.
We hope we fit the right number on the stick. We silently pray that after measuring ourselves, we won’t find on the measuring tape the words “so sorry, not quite good enough.”
All of us humans feel this way. Our best, our hardest work, our hours of endless striving for perfection is never quite good enough for the masses. But then sometimes we feel like we have actually reached it (whatever “it” may be). “Finally!” we say. And then no sooner do the words leave our mouths then there is someone out there breaking the record, selling more, achieving more. Someone who is always taller, prettier, faster, and more successful.
But the funny thing is, in all this comparing and measuring, we find that we all use different measuring tapes. Our inches are different than the next person’s, our teaspoons don’t match, the temperature gauges are out-of-sync. Someone can look at my daughter and say that she looks exactly like me, while another questions whether I could possibly be her parent.
Different eyes seeing the same thing. Different measurements.
Our lives can become a constant comparison to someone else, so that eventually, we forget who we were to begin with—-what story we were meant to tell.
That we were never meant to be like that person, to create like that person, to fail or to achieve or to look like that person.
We were meant to be who we are.
There can be no adventure or laughter or crying or anger or love in a book written the exact same way as another, telling the exact same story with the exact same words.
Only we can fail and win and cry and laugh and love in the unique way we were meant to. The world doesn’t need the same book, the same face, the same laughter, the same story.
This comparing and measuring is one of those things that I try to erase in my kids every single morning when I say goodbye to them and send them off to school (yes, even though three are in high school now and one is in middle school…don’t they need it most?!) drop them off at school, sending them through the doors to seven hours away from one of the only people in the world who loves them exactly as they are exactly every moment of the day.
I’ve made it a ritual.
“Thank you,” I whisper to each of them in turn. “Thank you for being Ella. You are perfectly Ella, and be perfectly Ella all day today.”
“Thank you for being Isaac.”
“You are perfectly Noah.”
“Be perfectly Gracie today.”
I hope they hear me. And not just hear me, but really hear me. And of course there will be a time when they will measure themselves. They will compare themselves like every other human being on earth has done before them and every other human being on earth will do after them.
But still, there is enough measurements in life. And if I can, for even a moment, help them to put down the measuring stick and live life uniquely in the way they were meant to—-to create their own story rather than trying to live out some one else’s, well then, I’ll be a happy Mama.
And honestly, I’d rather them focus on measuring the flour correctly…because I really like cake.