It stirs up a bunch of negative emotions in me. Leaving me feeling inadequate, judged, on display, like I do not measure up and as if I will never be enough. As much as I want to claim independence and say that I care very little what other people think of me, or that I do not need the acceptance and praise of others because I know who I am in Jesus - the hard, raw truth is that I do.
To some degree, I compare my abilities, my looks, my life, my family, my ideas, my home, my car, my clothes, my faith and even my cat to that of others.
Comparison is something the devil uses to weigh me down, to take me out of the game and to leave me vulnerable and feeling defeated.
And I bet I'm not the only one.
So. Now you know.
Now you know that I am not this secure, confident, care-free, daughter of the King that I could be. And why? Because I am sinful. Utterly. Completely. Born in sin and bathe in sin. I am so easily distracted. I allow the thoughts of my sinful nature and the ones planted in my brain by the devil - the lord of lies - to consume the truths I know about myself in Jesus, the truths He breathes into me through His Word.
And I bet I'm not the only one.
Comparison is crippling. It robs joy. It steals confidence. It is a gateway for many other sins. To name a few - jealousy, pride, self-pity, unrighteous anger, resentment, bitterness and the desire to give up.
Jesus died for those sins. His nail-marked hands signify the suffering He endured because I was jealous of someone else's body and hated my own so badly I went home and ate an entire bag of chips to feel better. The scars on his forehead from the pounded-in thorns indicate the suffering He endured for the times I thought to myself, "I'm faster and stronger than she is, so what if she can run longer". The bruises and cuts on His cheeks from being repeatedly punched in the face indicate the suffering He endured when I resented the fact that my husband had time to train for a marathon - I mean how dare he, doesn't he know we have 4 kids and schedules and appointments and classes and practices? The pain and anguish He experienced and the blood He shed from carrying his own cross all the way to Golgotha is because of the many times I chose defeat instead of being a conqueror.
And I bet I'm not the only one.
Maybe you aren't comparing exercise gains or body types. Instead you compare yourself to a mom who formula feeds - you must be better than she is because your daughter is 12 months old now and she has never had the bottle once. Or you feel inadequate around a mom of multiples because you think, "man, I can't even handle one! How come she's so much better than I am?" Or you find yourself resenting your friend, your good friend, because she just got back from a trip you would absolutely love to have gone on.
Comparison. That is one ugly word. But do you know what's uglier? When comparison is lived out and acted upon. When it gets lodged in our brains and distorts truth.
It's a brand new year. A brand new chance to STOP comparing and START conquering.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
I know we all have great intentions about this and really do desire to be content and NOT to compare, because as I've explained and as we are well aware of, comparison is the gate-way sin. It leads to so many others.
What can we do about it? Comparison is so engrained in our thoughts and how we respond, how we perceive things and how we act. I have six tips for how you can make 2015 the year that you compare less and conquer more:
- Read your Bible. Are you aware of all of the passages that speak to this subject matter? There are a lot. Remember when the disciples wanted to know who was the best (Luke 9:46-48). In 1 Corinthians 12:24-25 Paul talks about how the human body is like the church body - how we all have unique contributions that make up a whole. Romans 12:3 reminds us : "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement". 2 Corinthians 10:17 "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord". There are numerous Old Testament stories about comparison and jealousy - starting all the way back to Adam and Eve. Adam told God that Eve was the one who gave him the fruit, implying that he was better than she. This is a whole new sect of comparison - blame. My favorite is Galatians 4-5 from the Message translation: "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life". READ YOUR BIBLE!
- Surround yourself with people you don't have to impress. I personally think just doing tip #1 will help you tremendously. But surrounding yourself with people who love Jesus, have no agenda with your friendship, and genuinely accept you as YOU because you are a redeemed child of God will help you compare less and conquer more.
- Exercise. Seriously. Exercise helps ease tension and stress. It clears your mind. It opens your heart (literally and figuratively). Things become less important - stuff becomes less necessary when you are wrapped up in the amazingness that is your body. A capable body that can exercise. Legs that can walk and more than likely climb stairs. A back that can carry laundry and kids - sometimes at the same time. Lungs that can breathe in oxygen and send it to your working muscles. A beating heart that pumps a ridiculous amount of blood through out your entire body every single day - without rest. Think about that. Your heart NEVER STOPS BEATING. EVER. That's amazing.
- Start a Grateful Journal. This will help to focus your attention on what you have and off of what you don't have, or what you think you need to have.
- Stay away from places (real or virtual) that tempt you to compare. For me this is Pinterest, Hobby Lobby & Pottery Barn. If you are constantly comparing yourself and your situations, stay away from the places that trigger it.
- PRAY! On your knees. Over and over again. Ask the Lord to enable you to use your gifts. God has a special, specific purpose for your life. No one else can do it. When you get all cluttered with comparison and the multitude of sins it incites, your purpose gets clouded. Your unique gift and service gets missed. Pray for clarity and then for the courage to do God's will for your life.
Dear Heavenly Father - Lord, I come to boldly, asking for help. I know that I am enough. I know that you sent your Son to suffer and die for me. Right now. Today. Like I am. Forgive me when I feel that I am not enough and when I neglect the gifts you've given me, only me. Today and every day of your grace, I want to boldly live for you. I don't want to live in the shadows of who I think I should be, or live on the pretense that I have done it all by myself. If I boast, I want to boast in you. If I shine, it's a reflection of your light. If I fall, pick me up and set me on solid ground. Lord, let me live for you this new year. Surround me with people who love you and will show me your truth and be an encouragement to me. And enable me to be that person for others. In Jesus' name. Amen