Is Comparison Killing Your Joy?
As I looked down, I saw it. A small rip in the side of the gift bag at my feet. I must have busted it in my mad dash to the car. No worries, I thought, I’ll just put in the back seat where it’ll be safe. One tug and the bottom fell out.
We stopped at the grocery store for another, and after rushing to move the present and the tissue paper to bag #2, I decided to shift this one on the floorboard. As soon as I tugged on the handles, I heard ripping on the side seams. Tears welled up at the corners of my eyes. And at that moment, my husband, sensing this was not a normal reaction to weak gift wrap, asked a logical question: "What’s wrong, really?"
I was so frustrated. I shouted, “Of all the people who should be able to show up to a 3-year-old’s birthday on time with a well-wrapped gift, it should be the girl who isn’t also trying to corral three kids and work a full-time job!”
Distraction is the enemy of destiny.
For months, I had been comparing myself to my friends with kids. I’d hear a comment about how great one friend was at entertaining and feel the pressure to create homemade place cards and a five-course meal as well.
Distraction is the enemy of destiny, and few things take our eyes off what’s ahead like comparing ourselves to others. If we're too busy comparing our lives to others' lives, we'll miss out on the good plans God has for us.
3 Ways To Break The Comparison Trap
1. Take a social media fast.
Social media is a great tool to stay in touch with friends and family. But if we’re not careful, we’ll start comparing our real life to everyone else’s Facebook feed. Watching the sunset at Lake Jocassee was perfect until your cousin shared the sunset in Italy. When scrolling through your friends' updates leaves you discontent, it’s time to take a break.
When our followers fuel our decisions, we’re no longer seeking the approval of God, but of man (Galatians 1:10). Only God knows who we are inside and out. Only He knows what will truly satisfy our souls. And it’s only when we seek Him first that our hearts are fulfilled (Psalm 37:4).
Our value is not measured in likes on Instagram. We will never be satisfied trying to be the wittiest, funniest or timeliest, because chasing what’s popular is chasing a moving target. And on our quest to gain more likes, more followers and more clout, we’ll miss out on the unique plan God has for us.
2. Stop hanging out with gossips.
Comparison is the root of most gossip. Think about the following statements:
- “I would never allow my kids to do that.”
- “I can’t believe she wore that in public.”
- “I bet I know why she got that promotion.”
- “How did she afford that bag?”
Gossip isn’t just disclosing a secret or saying something untrue. More often, gossips compare their lives to others and shame them for living differently. I’ve heard women tear others down for their decision to homeschool (or not homeschool) their kids. I’ve seen a cursory once-over digress into a dissertation on whether even “dressy” jeans were inappropriate at a bridal shower. And all of it was followed by an obligatory, “Bless her heart.”
Gossip hurts others, but it also hurts us. Proverbs 20:19 cautions us to avoid gossips, saying, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.”
When we expose ourselves to gossip, we allow our definition of right and wrong to be shaped by our peers instead of our Savior. But when we remove gossip from our lives, we take away the kindling that allows comparison to grow.
3. Replace worry with worship.
For many of us, the key to breaking the comparison trap is to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start worshipping God by using the gifts He’s given us (1 Peter 4:10-11).
You are the only you on this planet. Resolve to do what God has called you to do, not what everyone else is doing. God made you on purpose, for a purpose and with a purpose. Dream big, set goals and go after them.
By Heidi Charalambous