By Sammie Gallo, Creator of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More
*This blog originally appeared on Sammie’s personal blog and was republished at youweremadeformore.org.
If you struggle and find yourself comparing your story to someone else’s story, you’re not alone. Approximately three scrolls into Instagram, I all too quickly sink into thinking things like:
- I really should do more ab workouts. Or just more workouts in general.
- If I just would’ve worked a little harder, I could’ve accomplished what she accomplished.
- How on God’s green earth does that person have it all together and keep her babies looking perfect and her husband happy and here I am, just trying to find time to shower every day?!
- If only I could be where she is… in that season of life… I’d be good.
So often, we treat life like a game of Chutes and Ladders. Some of us keep getting #blessed and moving upward toward the goal, and others of us keep landing on spaces that slide us back to where we hoped we’d never be again. We watch each other climb and we watch each other slide, becoming envious, prideful, and defeated in the process.
Well, I’d argue that if you’re doing life really well, your life shouldn’t look like a game of Chutes and Ladders, but rather it should look a lot more like a deck of cards.
Think about it this way: life can’t be a game of Chutes and Ladders because we aren’t all playing on the same freaking board. You’ve been dealt a deck of cards (and so has she, and so has he, and so has she). So, what are you going to do with the deck that you’ve been dealt?
We aren’t all on the same game board, racing to the top. Yet, we live each day like we are. We compete until we feel like we’re good enough. We compare until we feel like we’ve out-performed an opponent. And often, we speak ill of others in an effort to make ourselves look more desirable or more equipped. We do, do, and overdo until we run ourselves ragged because if we aren’t getting to the finish before or as well as that other person, we aren’t succeeding.
Your deck of cards is not the same as that girl’s. The cards you’ve been dealt are unique to you, and you can’t obsess over someone else’s deck and simultaneously handle yours well. It’s impossible. We all need to realize that our callings are not in anyway comparable to someone else’s. Our relationships and all of their messiness are not in anyway comparable to someone else’s. Your deck of cards – your upbringing, your hardships, your dreams, your fears, and your heart – is not in anyway comparable to someone else’s.
To really live into that truth, you’ve gotta find your lane.
Your lane is something I like to use to refer to your calling. What are you good at? What makes your heart soar? What brings you joy? Find that, and you’ve found it. That’s your lane.
I can tell you right now that my lane is not my sister’s lane. While we are very similar, we aren’t the same, and neither are our lanes. Meesh is a boss babe who rocks children’s ministry and has so much patience with large groups of small children, when the idea of handling a large group of elementary-age kids for more than an hour at a time gives me A-N-X-I-E-T-Y, because I know I don’t have nearly as much patience to deal as she does. I don’t have patience for a bunch of questions beginning with “why.” Plus, I’m a germophobe, so my biggest nightmare is when a child finishes a lollipop, has candy-colored slobber all over them, and comes to give me a hug. I’d rather run away, while Meesh would joyfully scoop them right up, bear-hug them, and make them feel like the only kid in the world.
That ain’t my lane, people.
What is my lane, though? Loving teenagers. Doing life with them. Hanging out with them and doing crazy things with them. Digging through the Bible with them. Walking through seasons with them. Celebrating with them. I love who they are. I’d give my life for every teenager to know that they are deeply, innately, and adamantly loved by the God that made them. That’s my lane. No candy-colored slobber in that lane.
After years of racing with people, I finally realized that I can’t race with someone else in a lane that isn’t mine. And neither can you.
Stay in your lane, girl. Now, this is not me saying that you get a free pass to just go with the flow, wait for others to lead you into your calling, and passively watch as the days tick by. NO. That’s not what I’m saying at all; you’re called to hustle. But you’re not called to hustle in the name of gaining worth or purpose or identity. You’re called to hustle for what you’ve been given. Hustle in your lane. Hustle well. Hustle with confidence, chase those things that make your heart soar, and push past any barriers (with grace) that prevent you from doing so. Hustle toward YOUR goal, for the glory of God. Don’t settle for hustling toward someone else’s.
Comparison isn’t just the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything. Celebrate progress, not perfection. Cultivate gratitude over comparison. Gratitude turns what we have into more than enough. As women striving after the heart of Christ, we can rejoice in each other’s lives without questioning the goodness of the God who holds all of our lives in His hands. If you have to, shift your perspective. Look at your life as a story. Own that story by seeing the beauty in all of it.
Owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.
A few days into knowing my boyfriend, he asked me to share my story with him. We were sitting in the airport on our way back from a week of serving in the Dominican Republic. As I normally do, I jumped in and gave him the SparkNotes version of who I am.
If you know me, the first thing you probably notice is that I have some sort of accent that doesn’t really match up with anyone you’ve ever met before. If you know me, you probably know the crazy-unique story behind it. Meesh and I are identical twins, who developed cytophasia very early on in our develpoment. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a twin-language that sounds like jibberish in which the twins only communicate and understand one another. It actually occurs in 50% of twins, identical or fraternal, but of course, Meesh and I decided to be in the rare group of twins that keeps this language through the key linguistic developmental years of ages 2-5.
We didn’t speak English until we were five, and had to go through years of extensive speech therapy to learn what was supposed to be our native tongue, and the accents we have today are a result of how we first learned to speak. Growing up, as I’m sure you can imagine, life was #rough. Meesh and I were different – not better or worse than anyone else, just different. And that made us prime targets for bullies. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that words have power. You know that. The words of others deeply affected who I was growing up, and who I came to see myself as. I never believed that I was good enough. And unfortunately, a lot of experiences throughout my high school years just reiterated that belief.
Jesus has done a lot of redeeming work in my life over the past six years concerning my identity and who I am. I’ve learned what it means to own my story. A large part of my career involves me speaking to large groups on a regular basis. If you would have told me I’d do that when I was in high school, I would have vomited on you. The idea of speaking up in a group of more than 5 people used to terrify me. I used to pray that I wouldn’t be called on to answer a question in class. Now, speaking is one of my favorite things on the planet. I love sharing my story, letting people know that they are indeed valued, seen, and loved. I love teaching, mostly because I’m always learning and I love sharing what I’m learning with others. The Lord has written a beautiful narrative in my heart, showing me that who He created me to be is perfect.
But… it’s still taken me two years to write about the most influential part of my identity on this blog, simply because there are parts of me that are still being redeemed. There are times when I still dread meeting new people, because I know what the first question they’ll ask me is going to be. There are still times when I want to hide what it is that makes me different.
As I was explaining this to Juan, I made a half-joking, half-insecure comment about how my story would be cooler if I’d actually remembered the secret language. I giggled like I do when I’m feeling vulnerable and awkward (story of my life, people) and he responded by saying: “your story is perfect just the way that it is.” For me, that was a beautiful moment. I was reminded that each time I make light of or try to change my story to be more attractive, I’m not doing it justice. In that moment, I was reminded that my story is perfect. It’s constantly being shaped, pruned, shifted, and redeemed to be even more beautiful than it is now. That was also the moment I knew there was something different about him. He listened to my story, all of it, and still saw the beauty in the parts that I couldn’t see beauty in myself.
Let me just say this: where you are at this moment, where you are standing, the season you’re in… it has a purpose that is far more meaningful, more beautiful, and going to be used for far more than your eyes can see or your mind can grasp. Your journey is yours. You can fully dive in with an expectant heart and unwavering trust that the Lord has gone before you. He longs for us to keep our eyes on Him, to not be shaken by the trap of comparison to the person ahead of you, behind you, or beside you. What is in store for you, truly is immeasurably more. And you will never see the beauty that’s in the process until you realize that the Lord has something for you in the here and now that is worthy of your attention. Every single part of your story plays a part in the glory that’s ahead.
Your story makes you who you are. I think God could untangle your soul, your gifts, your people, your place, and your passions, and begin to weave them into purposes that you haven’t been brave enough to imagine. I want that for you. I want you to own whatever deck of cards you’ve been dealt, trusting in the One that dealt them to you.
My story will never be exactly like hers – thank goodness. Your story will never be exactly like mine – thank goodness. If it was the same story, the world would miss out on the beauty that each of our lives brings.
Your story isn’t her story – and that’s okay. Your story is the one that our good, good Father is writing. It’s a story where He shows up and keeps His promises – and believe me, He’s the best story-writer.
Sammie graduated from Robert Morris University in 2017 with a background in biology and psychology and started working with Anglicans for Life (AFL) shortly after. In addition to her work with AFL, she spends time going into public schools with the Women’s Choice Network, speaking to high schoolers about healthy relationships and sex education.
Sammie married her best friend, Juan Gallo, in May 2019. During her free time, you can find her leading youth ministry with her husband at their church, where he serves as the youth pastor.
Sammie spends her day-to-day making sure that every person hears and believes the words: “you were made for more.” You can follow Sammie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! She’d love to get to know you!