Truer words, Teddy. Truer words.
Comparison has been beating like a kettle drum in my head lately. Not my favorite tune to play. I was texting with my sister the other day and ended my "how I was doing" update with: "why does comparison have to be such a struggle!?" And she echoed my sentiment with: "Oh goodness isn't it a big one?" It is one of those struggles that seeps into us all, in some way, shape or form. It's like the gopher arcade game; it pops up constantly and, seemingly at times, out of nowhere. And, truly, I don't know if any other sinful struggle of mine has exhausted me and robbed me of joy the way this one does.
In that text conversation with my sweet sister, Megan, she asked me where I struggle with comparison the most. I needed that question. I needed to stop and actually, really, deeply consider what areas of life are breeding grounds for comparison for me. I've been asking that same question over and over again to myself the past several days because it is the very first step to starting to get rid of this nasty, life-sucking struggle. Call me dramatic for describing the struggle this way if you will, but that is exactly how it feels for me. No other struggle shuts my systems down, makes me hole up and pull back, and go into hardcore self-centered mode as this struggle. I WANT IT GONE.
Now we know this, but it absolutely bears reminding, that there's not going to be life-changing, joy-abounding true change outside of Jesus. Believe me, I've tried. Oh how I've tried to wage this war on my own and, well, look at me now. Still fighting. I don't think.....no, I know, that I have never really faced this struggle head-on and given it over to Jesus to do His righteous work in it and show me the yucky depths of my sin, yet quickly follow that with, "you are forgiven and you are free." I want to know freedom from this, you guys. I'm so over it!
So here it is. Some of the very thoughts that have swirled around in my head.......
"Well that must be nice to have your dream house. I'd like to have mine. We'll probably be in an apartment forever."
"They get to travel all the time. How is that?"
"Well they obviously make a lot of money and can do anything they want to do."
"No one ever tells me I look pretty, but they always tell her. I guess I'm not."
"A lot of people comment on her blog. So many people are better at this than me. I just probably shouldn't even do it."
"I'll probably never get the cool opportunities that she does."
"Well if my life included _______, I could probably do that too."
What is wrong with these statements? Oh let me count the ways. Hello pride and self-pity and vanity and selfishness and jealousy! And do you know one of the things that makes me so sad about this list?? It's so self-absorbed that I completely lose out on being able to celebrate with those women, being one of the biggest, and truest, encouragements for them, being able to recognize the ways the Lord has blessed them and is using them. Being an encourager is one of the things I treasure most and I want to be doing that from the corners and tiny spaces of my heart.
One of the best talks I've ever heard was a talk by Carolyn Mahaney called "The Snare of Compare." It is so good. She bases her talk off John 21: 15-22 and, very specifically, verses 21-22: "When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!" What is that to you? I need this tattooed on my forearm. What is that to me that the Lord has fill-in-the-blank plans for you, for her, for him, for them, for anybody? That isn't mine to know, it isn't mine to base my life off of, it isn't mine to try to scrape together some kind of existence trying to be like them. It is the Lord's for them. And He gives me mine for me, and ours for us. My task, my biggest and most profound task, the thing that is to be my life's very definition is to follow Him. That's where my day to day springs from, that's where all my needs are provided, that is where my value is found......Him. Always, always, always Him.
I want comparison to stop defining me. I want my joy to stop being robbed by it. I want to live fully the beautiful days the Lord has chosen and formed and designed for me, and to love them and choose gratitude for what they hold.
These words are a few of what's been percolating in my heart and soul as of late. There's more to come. But for now, let's fight this good fight, lovely ones. Let's ask the Lord to purge the very depths of our struggles with comparison and reveal the nitty-gritty so that we can take those first steps to loving HIS way for us, to knowing how precious and loved we are by Him, and to be able to scroll through social media and say, "Thanks, Lord, for Your creativity, Your plans, and for letting me have a front row seat to all the stories Your weaving and working."
So much freedom waits for us there.