The other night at an event I attended, I found myself staring at some of the folks attending who I knew made substantial salaries, well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. I watched them for a while and then suddenly realized that if I wanted to busy myself looking at the tall trees I would miss the small trees all around me.
The insidious lie of comparison does precisely this. It specializes in seeing the taller trees and then thinks about wanting to be taller.
“How much taller would you like to be?”
“Oh, not much. Maybe an inch or so.”
Or consider wealth. Try asking almost anyone if they would like to make more money.
“How much more would you like?” you ask.
“Oh not much more,” they will most likely answer. “Just a little bit more.” (This seems to be universally tue, whether that person be a neurosurgeon or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. It really doesn’t matter.)
Just a little taller, just a little more money … blah, blah, blah.
But then I got nailed by two of my favorite writers…
** Jeremy Statton writes: “Some trees really are taller than us. That’s okay. Because you don’t have to be the tallest tree in the forest to live a better story. Some trees do incredible things in spite of how short they are. Mother Teresa was short in stature. She started her ministry with zero. She had no possessions. Could a tree have been any shorter than her? But she did incredible things.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do as a tree is to notice the shorter trees around us. And then use our tallness to help.This is love. Every tree doing whatever it can to help the shorter trees become taller than they ever thought possible.”
** I want my tree to do what church father John Wesley said it should do:
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”