I love my life. I would hope that most people could make that statement, but my fear is that many can’t. I often times look at strangers and wonder what their life is like. Sometimes I look at the people I know and wonder what their life is like. What is it truly like to be that person? Do they like getting up in the morning? Do they look forward to their day ahead? Do they dread their dentist appointment? Do they wonder where they’re going to get money to fill their car with gas? Are they hurting because of an argument with their girlfriend or boyfriend? Are they lonely because no one wants to hang out with them? Do they get scared of the dark? Are they hiding a health issue they don’t want anyone to know about? Are they hiding an emotional issue they don’t want anyone to know about? Do they enjoy their job? Do they feel competent at their job? Or do they feel like they’re walking on eggs shells waiting to get fired? Do they hate the way they look, even if they look good to me? Do they dread recess because they don’t know if anyone will want to play with them? Do they dread lunch because they don’t know if anyone will want to sit by them? Do they worry about failing? Do they wish they were someone else?
I love my life, but I don’t always like what’s in it. I don’t like the dentist. I don’t like arguing with Benj. I don’t like getting angry at my boys. I don’t like dealing with an ED. I don’t like grading all that much. I don’t like my ankles (yeah, weird, I know). I don’t always feel like a good teacher. I don’t like walking into a room of people I don’t know. I don’t like eating by myself in public. I don’t like when I let people down. I may not like these parts of what make up life, but that doesn’t mean I hate my life. Life cannot be all happy faces and Saturdays on the lake. Real life is a mix of joy, sadness, community, loneliness, confidence, mistakes, proud moments, not so proud moments. Life is this big ball of messiness that combines into the shape of Rhonda Joy Van Donge. That is me. I am not anyone else.
I’ve had 41 and a half years to have a lot of experiences and to learn a lot of lessons and to realize that I’m still a work in progress. It’s been a hard road of coming to the understanding that comparison is the biggest stealer of joy in life. I can wonder what other people’s lives are like, but I cannot compare my own to theirs. If I compare and deem myself better than them, I’ve fallen into pride that only leads to a fall. If I compare and deem myself worse than them, I’ve fallen into believing lies that only lead to despair.
This is who I am. God made me this way.
I am a determined person who likes to set goals and crush them. He made me quiet in large crowds because I don’t like people staring at me when I talk (and yet I’m a teacher so I don’t get that one). He made me to love running because any sport with hand eye coordination is a no go for this body. He made me to like schedule and predictability. He made me into the wife, mom, friend, teacher, runner, ED fighter, writer, baker, social media poster, leader . . . this person that I am.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to work to improve how I do each of those things. I’m not static. I’m a growing, developing, learning, dynamic person created in the image of my Almighty God. And my God, the all knowing God that he is, created me exactly as he wanted me to be. And then he did the most amazing thing. He set me exactly where he wanted me to be and drew a plan for me that intersected in a million different ways with the lives of everyone else he created. Through all of that, he continues to push me and tough love me into being better than I was the day before. He wants me to be my best so that the glory he gets from me walking on this earth is the very best I can give. That, my friends, is enough motivation for me to catch myself when I compare and accept that I am his work and that I am in progress and that he loves me. God created me well.
And He created me to thrive.