Updated: May 9, 2020
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. I came across this quote later in life, but it summed up majority of the discontentment I dealt with for years. Comparison. Almost naturally, we look to our right or our left to check how those around us are doing. We may not admit it, but we aren’t looking to see how well the next person is doing. We are looking to see if they are doing better than us.
I can take inventory of my life, the relationships, experiences, and things and feel this is the best life ever. Soon after, I can begin to inventory the life of someone I know or, thanks to social media, the life of someone I will never meet. That exercise can lead me to either feel pretty good about myself and my situation or leave me feeling behind and discontent. Thinking of myself as better or worse than the next person does not help me one bit. Once I begin to compare, I’ve robbed myself of truly finding joy in my own life. The person or situation I am comparing myself to will dictate whether or not I am satisfied.
No, I am not saying don’t ever acknowledge when something good happens to someone you know or don’t mourn with those who mourn. Acknowledging others and caring is being a good friend. However, we cannot measure our circumstances based on someone else’s. Comparison does not make any one’s grass greener.
We’re robbing ourselves of joy when we compare.
Above being unhelpful, comparison gives God a backhanded compliment about how He made us. Here’s an example: If I see another woman with longer legs than mine (which due to my height isn’t hard) and I begin to feel bad about the short perfectly working legs I’ve been granted, I’m telling God “Hey, you did a great job with her over there, wish you would have used the same effort over here.”
If you believe God is perfect and designed you on purpose for a purpose, you would never openly tell God that He did a bad job. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re doing when we measure ourselves by someone else. If when I made a meal for my husband and he began to tell me all the ways someone else’s food was better, I wouldn’t feel appreciated (and I’d never cook for him again). This is what we do to God when we allow comparison to make us discontent.
Comparison sells us the lie that what God did for somebody else, He either won’t (or dare I say can’t) do for us. The new house, nice new car, paid off student loan debt, isn’t meant for us, but instead held only for the person over there. Just read of all the promises of God and you will see that He does not withhold good things from His children.
Death to Comparison
How do we stop falling for this comparison trap?
Gratitude! An attitude of gratitude goes a long way. We have to be thankful for our portion that God has given us. Gratitude leads to contentment.
Purpose! Know what you are supposed to be doing. We are one body and each has a different assignment. There is a lane specifically with your name on it, run your race in that lane. When we understand that we have a specific purpose, it becomes hard compare our journey to that of another. There will only ever be one me, so there is no comparison to anyone else.
Read God’s Word! If you are going to be thankful, if you are going to find out why you are here, then you have to get with the One who made you and gave you everything you have. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re doubting something about God. We cannot trust God is going to do something if we don’t know His character for ourselves. Read His word, sit in prayer and know who He is and who He made you to be.
We have to refuse to let comparison steal our joy. No matter the circumstance, we have something to be grateful for. There is something that only we can do in this world. We won’t be able to accomplish it by being distracted by what’s on our right or left. If we are going to stay focused, we have to fix our focus on God. If there is something that needs to be added to us or taken away from us, He alone has the power to do so. The only way we will trust Him to do this will be by studying His word and sitting at His feet in prayer.
There is only one me and only one you, we owe it to ourselves to stop comparing!