It's been a week of comparisons. On Tuesday night we went to visit with friends for dinner and laughs, people we haven't had a chance to visit with that way in so long. One couple has 4 kids, a big house, a crazy busy schedule- the other has one squiggly little one and two full-time youth ministry jobs. Our single friend is free and happy and full of joy. We had so much fun but at one point Scott said to me "you're being so quiet!" It was because I was soaking so much in- I couldn't help but think that I was getting a glimpse of what Might Have Been. If we had made different choices or if things had turned out differently, we could have had similar lives to these four friends. It was like visiting alternate universes.
But I was not only busy comparing our family lives with theirs, but to our ministry lives. They are all in Youth Ministry, which I am currently not- I'm still a little surprised about that- and it was so interesting to hear their stories and experiences. There is still so much frustration in the world of YM. I listened, fascinated by the things that stymie youth ministers in their efforts: parents, kids, money, parish politics, working with others... it's the same old story but I forget about these things since I am in Ministry Heaven at my parish. One reason I was quiet was because I remember being in frustration and hearing people's happy stories and feeling even less hopeful. I know I paid my dues and I know God has me on a temporary sabbatical before whatever comes next, but I don't want to forget how it felt to struggle like that.
Later this week, we attended a funeral for a woman who had 6 kids, 18 grandchildren, etc... we looked at a future that we can't have, and measured our lives against it. Who will be at our funerals? Who will take care of us when we're old? When this woman died, I remarked to Scott that it must be such a relief to know all the answers to these questions. Her husband had died 18 months before her and everyone worried. How long would she live? Could her family care for her? How would it all end? Now they know and it must be such a relief, it seems to me.
I know we're not supposed to compare ourselves with others, but how can we help it? The good news is, even though I know the people around me would say the same about their situations, I am glad to say that I like where we are and wouldn't change a thing.