“Comparison is the death of joy.” Mark Twain
Women are notorious for comparing themselves with others. We compare how we look with other women-the shape and weight of our bodies, the style of our hair, and when you get to be my age, how many wrinkles are etched onto your face and how many gray hairs you possess. And if that’s not enough, we compare our material possessions, how obedient our children are and even our spiritual gifts from God. “Women are so unforgiving of themselves. We don’t recognize our own beauty because we’re too busy comparing ourselves to other people.” (Kelly Osbourne)
Comparison is a trap from the enemy. When we compare ourselves, there are two possible outcomes. We will either fare better or worse than someone else. We will either come out on top, which only feeds our pride, or we will end up on the bottom of the totem pole, feeling ashamed, discouraged and having a lower self esteem. Both are no-win situations. They are dead ends in God’s eyes, as both are sin. God doesn’t want us to think about ourselves as greater than or less than others, but simply equal with one another. When I think about it, how grievous this must be to our Lord. My dissatisfaction with my looks and my talents says to the Creator He didn’t do a good job creating me. How that must hurt the heart of God! Comparing separates us from one another as we formulate judgments against ourselves and those we’re being compared to. Instead of unity, harmony and working together, comparison causes us to judge and encourage division and dissension. To compare is to approve or esteem as being up to the standard and therefore admissible. The truth is we are only admissible based on what Jesus Christ has done for us.
I have struggled with insecurity all my life. Over twenty years ago after we first moved to Omaha, John’s mentor in Pediatric Urology, Casey Firlit, was a visiting professor at UNMC. We had the privilege one night of going out to dinner with him. While getting ready for the evening, I had myself in a tizzy feeling so inadequate as I compared myself with others. It was then and there God spoke a principle into my life. He encouraged me to stop looking at myself and instead turn my focus on Dr. Firlit. He instructed me to think about questions to ask him, to draw him out, to speak value to him. I have found the best way to get out of self esteem issues is simply to focus on others. When my purpose is to look for ways to minister and affirm those I’m with, then I’m not consumed with myself.
Even last week I was struggling prior to attending a memorial service, feeling like my clothing was inadequate. Once again the Lord was faithful to remind me why I was going. It was to come alongside of and to encourage a grieving friend. Instead of not wanting to be there because of feeling uncomfortable with my looks, I enjoyed looking for ways to minister.
Comparison robs us of feeling content with life. Contentment is a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet; acquiescence. You can’t buy contentment like a face lift or a new outfit. No, contentment comes as a result of knowing you are unconditionally loved and accepted by Almighty God, just as you are, right where you’re at. Today. Not because of who you’ll become tomorrow. You don’t need to compare when you’re already satisfied within.
I don’t have to strive or perform to be more like someone else I admire, but instead I can have my mind be at peace and rest, fully satisfied today, just as I am, because of how God feels about me.
The Apostle Paul gives us good advice in II Corinthians 10:12. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Ouch! I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not want to be a fool.
In closing, I encourage you to ask the One who created you how you rate in His eyes. I have a hunch you are one in a million, incomparable!
1. What areas do you most struggle with comparison?
2. How content are you and how can you grow in contentment? Hint: It’s not by having more or doing more.