Comparison = Discouragement or Pride
Photo by –Tico–
If we are honest, we all do it at some time or another. We see how well someone has done something, how organized they are, how well behaved their children are or how clean their house is and we compare it to our own and find ourselves lacking. Or maybe on the opposite spectrum we see how badly behaved their children are or how messy their house is and we give ourselves a smug little smile, knowing we’ve come out ahead. I am embarrassed to admit it but I’ve played the comparison game from both perspectives. Maybe you have too?
Comparing ourselves to others either brings us low and discourages us unnecessarily or it gives us a false, short-lived ego boost. Neither situation is a good thing. Let me explain.
A true comparison is never possible because we’re all different people, with different families and differing circumstances. In addition to that, we are generally comparing our weaknesses to others strengths or vise-versa.
When we see someone once a week at church and she has it all together, we (I) think back to the hectic time we had getting out the door. We thus conclude that she is much more organized than we are. Been there! Or maybe we are invited to someone’s home for dinner and when we arrive, we immediately take in their perfect house and compare it to our “lived in” house. Well, everyone has different levels of “clean” depending on the season of life they are in. You also have to bear in mind that, while she may be a fantastic housekeeper and there isn’t anything wrong with that, she also knew you were coming and probably spent a few extra minutes to make sure that everything was ready to welcome her guest. Just remember that we all have weaknesses and they were given to us by God. Imagine that?!? He created each and every one of us and we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). One of the reasons that he created our weaknesses was so we would come to him, depend on him and so that His strength would be made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9).
So you shouldn’t compare yourself to others and wallow in self-pity and discouragement. Don’t compare yourself! And if a comparison unwittingly comes to mind (it happens), take that weakness to the Lord. Pray about it and ask Him to help you overcome it and use it to better you as a person and help you to be more like Him.
Coming Up on Top
Maybe you’re on the flip side. You’re out somewhere and your children are obeying in a way that would make any mother proud. Then you glance over at the mother struggling to maintain control of her little ones. You size up the situation and perhaps you mentally think to yourself, “that mother should…” because of course you are the expert – just look at your well behaved children. (I know I was guilty of this when Chloe was a baby and I hadn’t even reached toddler stage with her. Now that I have, I understand and empathize LOL) Or when a lady walks by in immodest apparel. Do you do a mental comparison (because of course you’d come out on top!) or have judgmental thoughts? This is one place that I have to admit I am especially guilty of! Or maybe you are a coupon-clipping frugalista (and that can be a really good thing) but when you are talking about your accomplishments with an acquaintance with a wrong attitude of pride then it’s the same thing: wrong! Proud people are fools (Proverbs 14:3) and bound to fall (Proverbs 16:18). Ouch! Sometimes I am such a fool! Coming out on top is a false, short-lived victory because they are not the ultimate standard and it really doesn’t matter what your life or actions look like compared to theirs! When compared to the ultimate standard, you (and I!) will always come up short. Christ sets the ultimate standard and gives us the perfect pattern for our lives and our families all written down in His Word.
Comparing our actions, attitudes and decisions to the bible is the only comparison we should be making. Except maybe sodium content in soup/dip seasonings (like Limtpons at 870mg vs. Epicure French Onion at 8mg!)
It’s hard not to compare. I suppose you could say that the temptation to compare is a weakness isn’t it? With self-discipline and the help of the Lord, we can overcome it too and we’ll be happier for it!