08 Oct “Escaping the Trap of Comparison” by Lindsey Dowiot
If you’re like me, you like everything in its place. If you’re really like me, nothing is ever in that place, causing stress and even anxiety. The past couple of months I have been struggling with being really down and feeling overwhelmed. But it took me quite a while to realize that my quest for perfection was leading me down a dark path. I just kept thinking that I wasn’t good enough.
I tend to follow a lot of decorating, cleaning, parenting, and even Christian accounts on social media. You know, for “inspiration”. But what I’m finding is that subconsciously, I’m really just comparing myself to these seemingly perfect people, and my home to these perfectly clean and put together showcase homes. I’ve heard a million times that what looks perfect on Instagram is a far cry from reality. But, I know that I don’t stop to think of that as I’m scrolling away.
Why is it that we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others, or keeping up with the Jones’? It starts at such an early age – “why is her slice of cake bigger than mine?!” Or, “why did he get a better grade when I studied harder?” It’s in our very sinful nature to look around and see how we measure up to those around us. When we give in to comparing, all we’re left with is feeling jealous and inadequate. James 3:16 says, “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind”. Whether we’re beating ourselves up because we’re not perfect enough, or making bad financial decisions to keep up with our friends, we know that envy is dangerous.
So, how do we escape this trap of comparison? Once I realized that my issue was striving for unattainable perfection both at home and in the workplace, He started speaking to me. Really it comes down to who we’re trying to please. Is it ourselves, other people, or God? Of course as Christ-followers, the answer should be God! But if we’re being really open and honest, we can see who it is we’re really trying to impress. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. If we get caught up in what everyone around us is doing, we totally miss the blessings God is giving to us.
You may have heard the saying, “The shortcut to contentment is gratitude”. God’s love in itself is a gift. In 2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul says, “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!“, after he has just described the Good News. If we can step back and focus on that, and be grateful for what He has given us, we can be content. Psalm 23:1 is another example- “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” God does love and care for each of us. I know that I am cared for and have a roof over my head, a car to get me from place to place, and so many other blessings that I don’t deserve, but God is so gracious, and for that I am grateful.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10