We all know the comparison game and it’s a dangerous one. I could go on about contentment because really when we compare we aren’t being content with what God has given us.
“12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
We must learn to be content in situations and I have the head knowledge and know that comparison is dangerous and yet I. still. do. it! Shame on me! Let’s first look at a few of the dangers of comparison.
- When we compare ourselves to others it shows that we are not content with what we have.
- When we compare ourselves to others we end up wanting more and can become greedy.
- When we compare ourselves to others we can end up proud, thinking “Well, at least my life isn’t that bad.”
- When we compare ourselves to others we can either over inflate ourselves or not give ourselves enough grace.
So what can we do about it? Well, we just need to stop and I know that is easier said than done! So, I have come up with another solution. Yes, the ultimate goal is to stop doing it, but sometimes by trying not to do something, we end up doing it even more. For instance, say I tell you not to think about the number 13. By all means do not think about 13. It is an evil number that 13 and I don’t want you thinking about it. What are you going to think about? You guessed it… the number 13! So instead we need to replace it with something else. Say the number 29 instead.
Why not compare ourselves to ourselves? I know it may sound a little crazy but why not? There are several areas in my life I can compare. Let’s go first with material things because we all know that can be a hot topic. My house is a simple example. I think of the very first house we owned. It was 1950’s 1200 square feet. No dishwasher. A tiny bathroom where my knees hit the sink when I sat on the toilet. You get the picture. Now almost 11 years later, I see what I’m living in. We now have a 2012 house that is 2500 square feet and my bathroom is plenty large.
Or maybe think about vacations. When we were first married Adam and I never went anywhere except to visit family. That was our vacation. This past year we all drove to Disney as a family.
More important things like attitude come to mind as well. When we were first married, Adam and I would argue. I was known to go to bed angry and then wake up like it was all resolved. I would never, ever, even attempt to apologize because of course nothing could be my fault! Well, now 12 years into marriage, I can admit that I am wrong and apologize to his face. These things didn’t happen overnight and sometimes they are still hard. There were times when I could only email an apology and then maybe I could say an apology a day or two after the argument happened. In each area I took little baby steps, but man look how far I’ve come!
We attended a few different churches in Michigan but I remember going to one and leaving feeling like I knew absolutely nothing about the bible at all! After putting in time at bible studies, as well as studying on my own, many of the stories and verses are now familiar to me. I am still reminded that I have a ways to go when I cannot answer all my kids questions, but that’s ok. Look how far I have come.
My point is not to be prideful but it is to recognize that each of us changes each and every day even if it’s a little. If we allow the holy spirit to work in our hearts there is so much that can happen. Who cares what someone else did or what someone else is doing? Focus on what you are doing. If you don’t love what you are doing then change it! There is no shame in that.
Identify an area that you struggle in when it comes to comparison and then go back and compare yourself to yourself about 5-10 ago. How far have you come? Where do you want to go next? Anyone willing to share?