“Comparison is the thief of joy.”- President Teddy Roosevelt
The past two years have been a season of drought for me. Northern California has had more rain, (hardly any), than I have had joy, (queue dramatic violins). For the record, I am NOT a naturally depressing person. Normally, I am very excitable; enthusiastically pursuing life, relationships and experiences. But somehow joy has been lost.
Through excessive evaluation, I realize that I have been guilty of comparison and I hate it. Not only has it destroyed my joy, but also my dreams, my ability to believe, and my thankfulness. Too much has been lost because I compare my life to others.
For example, most people my age are married, have the requisite 2.5 kids, own homes that don’t get attacked by millions of ants daily, have jobs with seniority, cars that are dependable and classy, robustly growing 401Ks, and take vacations…vacations that don’t put them into debt. But not me.
Well…I guess I could go to putt-putt-golf next weekend and I wouldn’t have to take out a loan, but ew, no thanks. And ladies, don’t we all have that well-meaning girlfriend who talks incessantly about her “amazing” husband who does no wrong and is completely selfless? I just threw up a little.
God already gave us instructions to avoid comparison:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”(Exodus 20:17)
When we want what isn’t ours, the desire to control takes over. I see the life I want, so I decide to make it happen. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for disappointment. The illusion of control creates expectations that cannot be satisfied, and only leads to heartache and disappointment, which I learned the hard way this summer.
Thankfully, a “but” saved me.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy…” (Ephesians 2:4) stepped in. He created a situation so outside of my control that I could not fix or change it. I HAD to turn to Him for help.
Many tearful hours were spent in prayer and reading His Word. Instead of looking to my peers for hope, I was forced to look to at the One who created hope. Instead of craving another’s life, I had to look to the One who already gave me what I needed to live (and more!) I didn’t have the emotion or energy to compare during that time, I could only look to God and beg for help. My eyes were full of Him, instead of those around me.
Have I been completely cured? Well…somebody at work has a job I want, and the prestige should be mine! Clearly I am a work in progress, but that’s the thing. We are all works in progress, but we progress as we steadfastly look to God alone for our identity, and that is what it means to be… just living the thing.