Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Jon Acuff wrote those words in this post over on Michael Hyatt’s blog a couple weeks ago. It’s a great sentence to capture a temptation and a truth about the spiritual life.
It’s easy to look at other people and judge ourselves. It’s even easier to look at people we respect and admire and pull their current state into ours. But we are different from those we respect. Their lives were crafted and shaped from unique experiences which made them who they are. We can’t compare some part of their lives with the parts of our lives that are in front of us. When we do that, we rob them of the history and suffering and movement that we see as strength. And we take from ourselves a more basic truth: we are different, and we can’t pull someone else’s experience and own it as ours.
It takes courage to examine yourself. To look inside–not for the purpose of adding to the list of failures, but for the purpose of becoming better, stronger, sturdier, and more aware of God-in-you–is a job that most of us fear. I read that confession was the ground of authentic reconciliation and transformation. Saying what’s wrong, owning it, was a key to becoming whole and becoming different.
You can’t yank that out of somebody else’s experience. You have to live through that examination, through those hard words turned into prayers, through the hard decisions of acting differently by God’s help. And when you do that, when you look like that, when you pay attention to you that way, you don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.