5 Reasons Not To Compare Your Healing Journey With Others
Do you ever wonder why your healing journey doesn't look like other people's stories of healing? When I first started my healing journey, I felt like a runner in a hundred-yard dash at the Olympics. I wanted to reach the finish line yesterday, and then I dreamed of being a voice for women who lost theirs to abuse and addiction. But when I read about other survivors starting ministries, or making a difference in ways I only dreamed of, I felt like a failure as a survivor.
You don't have to be a survivor of trauma to fall prey to the enemy's scheme of guiding our attention away from God's work in our lives and turning toward what others have. If you have physical pain, or the emptiness left by loss, and the scars left by disappointment, you, too, probably compare your progress or circumstances to others.
Comparison is a problem for everyone.
We can't help it. We want to be the brightest star in the room, and if we don't feel like we are, we envy what the other stars are wearing--or at least their shoes. Comparison steals our luster and gives us pride and jealousy.
Enjoy the place where you are in your healing or the circumstances where God has placed you. You have never been in this place before, and like me, you may never have thought it possible. Take hold of your healing place and pat yourself on the back. This is hard work, and you have done it.
The enemy must jump up and down when we compare our lives with others. Because when we do, we take our eyes off the finish line, off the goal, and focus on what we want more than what we have.
What we have is freedom.
When, as survivors of any kind of trauma, we know freedom from shame or pain or emptiness, our healing journey is only beginning, and we can't imagine how God will use our newfound freedom.
Everyone has a different path. Some of us become a megaphone for survivors and friends; others become advocates while some of us choose to write about our healing journey so others know they can be free and find healing, too.
Each journey and purpose is as individual and unique as each of us is made. God knew each of us before we were knit together in our mother's womb. He saw every day of our lives before the moment of our birth, and His purpose and plan for our healing is as unique as we are.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Comparing Myself to Others
I recently found myself wishing I was better at being a survivor. Why am I not doing better at healing? Why does her story look better than mine? Why doesn't God use me in prominent, louder, more important ways?
I was taking my eyes off what I have and wanting what others seemed to have.
I forgot that healing is a lifetime journey.
I forgot that sometimes where I am on the journey is behind or before others on the same road.
I forgot that God has a purpose for every moment, for every snippet of time, for every millisecond of our healing journey. His purpose may not mirror the purpose of our survivor sisters traveling the same journey.
Here's why we should not compare our healing journey with other healing sisters:
God has a purpose specifically for your journey.
At this point in your healing, it may be to do just that--heal. It may not be time to share with the world. The time may be for you to sit quietly with Him and know you are loved and wanted. Or, maybe the purpose of your healing journey is to share with other survivors so they can heal, too. Whatever the purpose, it is uniquely yours, and no healing is too small. Writer Bob Goff wrote, "We won't be distracted by comparison if we are captivated with purpose."
Their journey may be further along or behind.
Healing is a process. When I walked into a counselor's office, I planned to say a few words, and she would say in return, "You're good. Go forth and be healed." Not the way it happened. It took years. When I was leaving counseling, there were possibly hundreds of women walking into the counselor's office for the first time. Just because someone's survivor story appears complete, it is not. Healing is a process, and this kind of healing takes a lifetime.
Nothing in your story is wasted.
God does not waste a thing. Not one detail is unimportant. Every tear, every sleepless night, every waking moment is used by God to take us one step closer to healing. Even this little back peddle of mine spent comparing my journey to "successful survivors" is used by Him to shape me into the survivor story He has planned for me. And He does have a perfect plan for each of our healing stories. All we have to do is be patient and wait for Him to show us the path. "Be still and know that I am God."
You are uniquely made, and your healing is uniquely yours.
My journey is not the same as any other women, and neither is yours. We are each created by God uniquely. So, although we may appear to travel through the same gauntlet, we do not. Your struggles and triumphs are uniquely yours, and my battles and victories are uniquely mine. That does not mean that we are thousands and millions of individual healing survivors. No, the pain of abuse, pain, disappointment and the fallout are the same; that's why we can all relate to the healing journey.
Your story is written for a specific God reason.
If you could make it different, then it would be for your goal, not his. When we compare our lives to others, we are trying to make our plans, not be part of God's plans. When we compare ourselves to others, we are judging, which is more important, them or us? The answer is both. God writes my life and your life, and the lives of every survivor for His purpose. It's like a big puzzle. Each piece is a different shape, but when you put all the pieces together, you have a beautiful tapestry of God's sovereign plan. I am so thankful to be just a tiny piece of the puzzle.
Have you started your healing journey?
If you are reading this and you have not yet begun your healing journey from a painful past, I am praying for you. I know what it's like to be hiding secrets and a broken heart, and I know how it hurts.
The first step on your journey is telling someone you trust, your story. Tell someone who will listen and say, "I'm sorry this happened to you." I'm praying you have that someone in your life. If not, please seek help through counseling or trusted pastoral care.
There is someone who will listen and love you.
If you are a fellow sojourner, I am praying for you as well. This is a lifelong journey, and we need each other, fellow survivors, in the trenches. We need to look and listen to each other's stories and say, "me, too." "I know what that feels like."
So, we can encourage each other with things such as "You are stronger than you think you are."
"You are not alone."
Where are you on your healing journey? What advice or encouragement do you have for women who have taken their first steps? Where do you want to be in five years, ten years? How will you get there?
Speaking of stories.
Take a look at these sites highlighting stories of brave survivors.
Read Charlotte's story HERE.
And read more about the Survivor's Trust HERE.
Read Celeste s' story HERE.