Do you want to dump the comparison trap? I do. For good.
I’ve struggled with the comparison trap for years. Every accomplishment or lack thereof was made bittersweet by the grip of comparison.
In high school, I compared myself to others based on grades, clothing, the points I scored in a basketball game or the friends I had.
How Comparison Robs Us
In adulthood, I compared myself based on the state of my home, the goals I accomplished (or didn’t), or the way my kids behaved. If I forgot a birthday, I was a bad friend. If my house was messy, I was a bad housekeeper. And if I didn’t live up to someone else’s expectation, I was a bad person. You can see how exhausting and crazy-town this was, can’t you?
At some point, I acknowledged comparison for what it is: immature, unhealthy, and unloving toward others.
Comparison taunts you with doublespeak:
“You can do better./You’ll never reach that.”
“You should have that./You’ll never have that.”
It puffs you up only to let you down and denies (at least in heart) happiness to another person.
It steals your joy in the sneakiest ways and needs to go.
In the last ten years, I’ve learned by acknowledging a few simple truths about myself and God, that my tendency towards sinful comparison diminished greatly, and I was able to embrace my limits, celebrate my gifts, and more importantly, love others by celebrating their gifts, accomplishments, and opportunities. No more measuring myself or others on my imaginary, arbitrary scale. How freeing!
When Comparison Sneaks In
Here are a few things that have helped me, and that you might consider as soon as you feel comparison (or it’s sneaky twin, envy) creeping into your heart and mind.
- My limits are God-given and His grace is sufficient in those circumstances.
- Comparison is usually tethered somehow to discontentment and shows we are not satisfied in Christ alone. Nothing satisfies if Christ doesn’t. Eyes off others. Eyes on Christ!
- To expect that I can do all things well (whether I’ve worked at it or not, I’ve honed my craft or not, cultivated that skill or not, nurtured that relationship or not) is to put myself in the place of God who is the only one who does all things well.
- Spending time eyeballing another person’s gifts, arena, ability, is to diminish my own gifts, arena, and ability. God puts us in spheres and circumstances where He wants us to pick up a towel and dig in serving Him. He chooses the task, the circumstances. He plants us where He expects us to grow and appoints it all. His work for me is holy, good, and undeniable.
God Has Gifted You
Did it ever occur to you that God has gifted you with a task that only you can do? And just because you don’t see the value in the work, His sovereignty places you exactly where He knows you can do that most good. (He made you and knows all about these sorts of things.) He plans out your good works. Let that sink in.
You may think your sphere is small or unseen, or your gifts are small, but nothing is hidden or left neglected in God’s economy. And God doesn’t expect you to do the work on your own. He makes up our lack. He nurtures even the small, insignificant things of this world with love, attention, and detail and maybe He chose you to be part of that care? (For more on this, read Unseen!) God is so loving that He tucks people into this remote spot or that tiny pocket of the planet to care for His people in all areas. He sends people to do important jobs to the “least of these.”
So when you feel comparison creep in, remember:
- that if God wanted you to have it (the friend, the influence, the opportunity), God would have given it to you.
- that if you were the person for the job, God would have sent you.
- that one of your friends may be looking at you and comparing her life to yours. Be a cheerleader and give your friends permission and encouragement to play out their roles in different ways than you. Remind them that they are the woman for the task God has given them and that you support them!
- That we are all part of one Kingdom building task, and when a brother or sister succeeds, we all succeed. When they triumph, it’s a victory for all of us. We are part of the whole.
Where has God put me today?
Who has He ordained for me to serve?
What has He put into my hands to steward?
How will I praise Him with this today?
Sarah Beals, Joy-Filled Days