Have you heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy”?
While I do believe that’s true, I don’t think it goes far enough.
Comparison doesn’t just steal your joy. It takes your life.
The Comparison Trap
How often do you compare yourself to other people?
No judgment. I’m writing this for myself just as much as I am for you.
Staying alert and aware is crucial because comparison can creep into your life under the radar OR pounce without warning. Either way, it’s a trap.
Admiring someone or trusting their influence can all too easily lead to obsession with becoming just like them. Or, dwelling on the fact that you’ll never be them.
Jealousy, covetousness, and resentment are all side effects of comparison, right along with believing lies about yourself. I’m not [fill in the blank] enough… I’ll never look as good as them… They have such an easy life… I’d be happier if I had their life… Why can’t I be more like them?
But maybe it’s not a person, per se. Maybe you find yourself comparing what you have or who you are to what society deems praiseworthy.
Let me tell you… that is a game you will never win. And here’s why: The goalpost keeps moving forward.
Society’s standards and expectations keep changing… for beauty, your body, success… all of it.
Imagine being in a hamster wheel on a football field and that’s what it’s like to chase comparison.
Friend, it’s exhausting.
Who Am I?
Every day you spend in comparison mode, you aren’t living. Not your own life anyway.
The years I spent comparing myself to society and others—AND acting on it—I lost who I was in that hamster wheel. Comparison made me hate myself. It made me want to be anything but myself, till eventually I didn’t recognize myself.
Not only did I not feel like me, I also didn’t feel like anyone I was desperate to become. I just felt empty. Confused. More determined to find the best, new version of me.
But, every time I thought I reached that goalpost, it just laughed in my face and kept on moving.
I’m here to tell you, if you keep following that goalpost, it will take you down a dark path. Mine included an eating disorder, adultery, divorce, running from God. So much more. None of it good. (Read my testimony here.)
My life was a lie. I was certain that no one would like me if they knew the truth. The real me. Whoever that was.
I sure didn’t know anymore.
Jesus Never Changes
Eventually, the exhaustion of chasing society’s ideal got to me. I was done. I wanted something steady and unchanging. SomeONE steady and unchanging.
That someone is Jesus.
Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) confirms that, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Even though I grew up believing in Jesus and building a relationship with him, some of my Biblical head knowledge didn’t seep into my heart. Life experience and God’s patient faithfulness is often the best teacher. It was for me, anyway!
Today, the ONLY comparison that makes sense to me is to compare my life to Jesus. Am I living like him?
Because, at the end of the day—and, heck, at the end of my life!—if anyone compares themselves to me and thinks, “I want what she has,” I want it to be because I have Jesus.
Fully Known and Fully Loved
Not only does Jesus not change, but he also loves us unconditionally. All the messy parts. The stuff we hide. Whatever brings us shame. Jesus knows, and he loves us anyway.
Friend, that’s why he DIED for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8, NIV). He didn’t die for perfect, popular, successful people. He died for the people who needed God’s forgiveness—and that’s ALL OF US.
So, if comparison has you feeling unworthy, unloveable, or even unforgivable… you’re not.
Jesus says so.
Comparison vs. Contentment
One way to fight comparison is contentment.
Whenever I feel a tinge of jealousy when I look at someone else’s life—yes, it still happens!—I am able to recognize that thought, stop it from spiraling, and choose to be content with who God created me. Chose to continue living the life He designed for me to live.
Like any important lesson, it takes time and practice. Don’t be discouraged! Stay alert for those feelings and take action. Over and over again till your reaction is faster and your response stronger.
Don’t let comparison ruin your life. Don’t strive to be a copy. Be original.
God made you original.
And God made the universe so He decides what’s good.
How to Stop Comparing
If you know you struggle with this and you aren’t sure where to start, I encourage you to ask the following questions when you feel comparison creeping in.
- Do you know if that person is even happy with their own life?
- What if they are struggling with something you don’t know about?
- How do you know they aren’t comparing themselves to someone else?
- What guarantee do you have that you will be happy if you change who you are?
- What about your own life can you appreciate today?
- How can you take the focus off yourself right now?
Do you struggle with comparison?
What has helped you fight those feelings and keep from acting on them?