Comparison is like a thief that comes in the middle of the night to steal your joy. Whenever we compare ourselves to another person we basically allow the thief in ourselves. It took me a long time and lots of prayer to realize that I sometimes fall into the trap of comparison.
The good thing about growing older and (hopefully) wiser is that we begin to see these things more clearly and can then put an end to them before they can cause great damage to us.
I’m not sure that men struggle with this as much as women do. But one thing is for sure: living in the era of social media has exacerbated this struggle 100 times more for women than before social media came around. We tend to look at those feeds and think things such as: her life is perfect; her husband is perfect; her kids are perfect; her vacations are always amazing; she seems to be so much holier than I am (this one, I feel, is more dangerous than we think)... and the list goes on.
Is Comparison Crippling Your Calling?
The Lord in His goodness has shown me that every time I compare myself or my life to someone else’s, I’m basically turning my back on all the beautiful gifts and talents He has bestowed upon me. I’ve come to realize that this is also one of the worst forms of wasting my time. Ask yourself if comparing yourself to someone else is getting you closer to where you want to be.
We need to stay focused in our resolve to not allow comparison to get in the way or diminish our desire to serve the Lord in whatever capacity he’s calling us to.
Another thing to consider is that when we fall into the comparison trap we put ourselves in great danger of being dragged down the dirty road of envy and jealousy. When we see the grace of God being fulfilled in one of our brothers or sisters in Christ, the right and ordered reaction is to rejoice! When we see something good, say so. Affirm it, encourage it, and most of all support it!
Just as some people’s brokenness can keep them from giving a loving response to our failures, other people’s brokenness can also keep them from giving a loving response to our successes.
The Cure for Comparison
The practice of gratitude is one that can help us counteract comparison, jealousy, and envy. When we strive to live our lives with a grateful heart and spirit, we find that these dangerous things will have no room in our hearts and lives.
It will serve us well never to worry or be envious of the gifts God has given to other people. Instead, we need to concentrate on those gifts He has graciously bestowed upon each of us individually. That way, we don’t waste time or, worse yet, risk falling into the trap of being so preoccupied with someone else’s life and gifts that we neglect and forget to use the ones we have been given.
I love what Father Jacques Phillippe writes in one of his books, In the School of the Holy Spirit:
God loves everyone with unique love, He wants to lead them all to perfection, but at the same time has very different paths for different people. This means that the frequency and characteristics of the inspirations of grace will differ from one person to another. We cannot force the Spirit, God is the master of His gifts.
This means that God is the master of everything in our lives. And He makes no mistakes. So regardless of what your life looks like at this moment, you are never less valued or less loved than any woman who may “appear” to you to have been more blessed than you in different areas.
It’s all about perspective. I am convinced that comparison in any shape or form is truly not from the Lord. Instead, I feel that it is the evil one who loves when we are trapped in the world of comparison. That way, he can manipulate us to be in constant competition with one another, forgetting that, as sons and daughters of the same Father, we are all in this together.
Learning to Live Your Strengths
Years back, I was introduced to a book that has really helped me understand how God has given all of us different gifts and talents for a reason: to serve Him and His people to the best of our abilities (not someone else’s ability).
Living Your Strengths (Catholic Edition), by Albert Winseman, Don Clifton, and Curt Lisveld, will help you discover your God-given talents so you can best serve and inspire your community. This book will also show you how to concentrate on your strengths and not on your weaknesses. The book also comes with a strengths-finder evaluation.
God is not looking for another Mother Teresa. He’s looking to use you, exactly where you are on your journey. But for this to happen, you need to get to know yourself better, discover what you are good at, what areas you thrive the most and so on.
Let us pray that we will learn to keep the thief we call comparison as far away from us as possible.
How do you avoid the trap of comparison on a daily basis? What practices have been helpful to you?
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