Because of Jack’s hand we have really driven home the thought that God made him that way and that God made him special. How much so was really highlighted recently when Liam sadly said from the backseat, “I wish I had a special hand like Jack. What makes me special?” He’s not yet at the age where he sees Jack’s hand has a hindrance or a bad thing (and hopefully he never does) because we have always pointed out the positive associated with it, the specialness. But his statement/question put me in the position of having to figure out what to say to him to make him feel better. To console my sweet six-year-old because he was sad to not have his own “lucky fin.” Can’t say that I ever saw that coming.
I couldn’t say, “Really, you should be happy that you don’t have a small hand like your brother because you won’t have to deal with figuring out different ways to do things, or how to field questions about your hand and stares from strangers (and sometimes friends).” Liam is oblivious to the aspect of Jack’s hand that are not enjoyable, instead, he was focused on wanting that specialness, on it not being fair that his brother has this special thing that he doesn’t have (oh my goodness, no one warns you how much of parenting is soothing hurt feelings and making sure your kids think everything is even). And I (perhaps) forgot that Liam also needs those extra assurances that he is also special, that God made him special, because we make such a big deal out of Jack’s hand. But in this case, he was not comforted by my simply saying that God made him special, too, because He makes everyone special; he pushed me to tell him specifically, what about him physically made him special. I had a God-given moment of genius when I pointed out his belly button, which was different since birth and is now even more different since his little surgery earlier this year and how that was something special about him in how God made him. Thankfully that was enough and he was happy with that assurance, proudly telling his brother, “God made me special, too, because of my belly button.” [Yes, I laughed.]
I have been thinking about that a lot since it happened. Knowing that as they grow, we’ll have to balance how much we talk about Jack being special with also saying the same thing about Liam. Liam needs the same assurances from us as Jack, both boys need to know they are loved and special to us and to God. But I am also struck by Liam latching onto something that most people would see as a negative and by comparison he is left feeling like he is the one missing out [which I think means we have been successful in presenting it as (at the very least) no big deal].
I’ve also been thinking about how, without fail, comparison of ourselves to others will always leave us lacking; feeling inadequate in some way, or like we are missing out. Looking at another person and thinking, “Oh, I wish I had her house/her wardrobe/her body” or “Wow, her kids are listening to her/her husband is so sweet to her/her friends are so wonderful… I wish my kids/husband/friends were more like that” that is the devil right there in your head, telling you that God made a mistake, that you aren’t good enough, that the person you are looking at [and judging] is better than you and that He didn’t make you special. And that is a lie. God doesn’t make mistakes and no one’s life is perfect or more worthy of goodness. We will always feel like we lose out when we put ourselves up for comparison because we see what we want to see, what the other person wants people to see but we seldom see the full story. We don’t know the other person’s pain or struggles; how they are also comparing themselves to their sister/brother/co-worker/stranger at the store and feeling like they don’t measure up. We need to give it up, stop comparing ourselves to others and letting it take the happiness out of our lives. No matter who you are, God made you special.