Comparison. A tug and a trap. The older I get, the more I realize how dangerous comparison to other people can be. Amidst the craziness of life, I find myself easily tempted to hold up my experiences and surroundings with others. And as my pastor, Jimmy Carroll, wisely says, we often compare up. When my kids are misbehaving, my thoughts quickly go to the many friends I have whose kids seemed well-behaved. When my house is disheveled, I remember their orderly homes. When my walk with the Lord feels dry, I’m quickly reminded of those who seem to be intimate with Him always. When I see someone’s strength, it often makes me ponder my weaknesses. Compare becomes despair.
In those moments, what I fail to remember is their kids also have meltdown days. No child is perfectly behaved all the time. When I’m frustrated by a weakness, I neglect to recall my strengths. When I become consumed with the gifting of another, I’m wasting opportunities to use and strengthen the giftings He has given me. When their clean home comes to mind, I don’t remember that it was clean because company was coming over or the other times when my own has been orderly. When I feel discouraged that my walk isn’t at the level of so-and-so’s walk, I’m not considering the dry seasons they too have experienced nor the trials that grew their walk with the Lord.
Comparison can be a shoddy lens. While it is wise to observe characteristics and habits in those we admire to better strengthen ourselves, we must remember that we are ALL uniquely made by a loving Creator. He gives us all a beautiful life inheritance, giftings and a future. (Psalm 16.6, Jeremiah 29.11). When consumed with what we lack or struggle in, we are restrained from living fully the life He has perfectly crafted for us individually and end up being poor stewards of what has already been entrusted to us. I have wasted years resenting the successes of others in areas I desired for myself. How kind the Lord has been to show me this error. It was His loving design to lead me down the path I’m on. He has given me gifts and talents for good were I to actually develop them rather than waste my energies coveting the giftings of others. (1 Corinthians 12.7-26, 1 Timothy 1.6-7) As I was recently reminded in Radically Obedient, “We miss the joy and freedom of radical obedience, of becoming all that God has designed us to be, when we try to be like someone else.” The LORD defines His plans us.
So if you find yourself scoping the circumstances of others and coming up short, take heart. Be mindful of what you are comparing yourself to and the incomplete picture it may be. Remember that we are ALL a work in progress. We ALL have been entrusted with amazing gifts, talents, and blessings. Focus on what He has given you and celebrate His gifts to others. With a heart of gratitude and humility, we can avoid the snares of comparison and live out fuller lives. All to the glory of God.