Have you ever compared yourself to another? I believe it is safe to assume that we all have. Typically, the comparison is made between ourselves and someone we deem to be better than us. There are, of course, those who compare themselves to others they consider to be below them in order to build their own egos, but that is an issue of pride and is a topic for another time.
The comparisons I want to focus on have to do with never feeling adequate enough for the job or parenting or life in general. We look at someone else who always seems to have the Midas touch; everything they handle turns to gold. Meanwhile, we seem to be desperately attempting to hold everything together with duct tape. We then look to the object of our comparison and wonder why we cannot be like them.
I must confess that I sometimes fall prey to this tendency as well. I have a colleague who, from time to time, I find myself measuring my life against. Let me stress that he has done nothing to impose himself upon my psyche in this way. I hold a great admiration for this individual. He is a dynamic leader with great vision and passion. He is a good husband to his wife and a wonderful father to his children. He has abundant resources and the wisdom to apply them so that great success is produced. He is a good role model; however, I periodically drift into an unhealthy look at him in comparison with myself.
I will find myself in a dilemma and think, “Pastor AwesomeGuy would have handled this better.” I experience struggles in my faith-walk and lament, “Pastor AwesomeGuy would never struggle with these things.” It is a whisper that comes from time to time that may stab at me and say, “Pastor AwesomeGuy would have been a better leader or preached a better message or would have been able to execute a better vision.”
Perhaps you can relate to this type of comparison in your own life. Do you have that friend whom you admire but you feel like your life is a far cry from theirs? Do you compare every achievement and failure to how you suppose it would have unfolded for them?
Sometimes we may even find that not only are we comparing ourselves with another individual, but we are also comparing our journey with their journey. We may look at the way our life’s story unfolds and wonder why our story doesn’t go like their story. We ponder, “Why do I seem to get the short end of the stick while he/she always seems to be granted clear sailing? Why can’t my story be more like their story?”
I was having coffee the other morning, and reading in the Gospel of John, chapter 22. A conversation is going on between Peter and Jesus. The Lord just revealed to Peter that his life’s journey would end in martyrdom (John 22:18-19). Peter then looks back and seeing John, asks this of Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” (v. 21) Peter was preparing to make a comparison of his life against John’s.
However, Jesus would not entertain that game. “Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.’” The Lord put a quick halt on the path Peter was heading down. He basically told Peter that John’s journey was not his journey and that Peter should mind his own business and concern himself only with following Christ. John would have to do the same with whatever blessings and struggles lie ahead for him.
The key to Christ’s command to Peter is not simply taking one’s eyes from another’s journey, but following Christ on our own journey. Many times, our life goes awry because we are not really following Christ. Then we make comparisons and become discouraged and even jealous, when much of the fault lies with us.
However, if we wholeheartedly set our minds to follow Christ, we can then find the freedom to abandon the comparison game. We can remove our way from wondering why our story looks differently than another’s. We can allow the Lord to write our story and write a completely different story for another and know that God’s sovereign will is being accomplished and He will therefore be glorified in both lives.
I encourage you to let go of everyone else’s journey and to set your path upon Christ’s will for your life. In this, you will find joy and freedom!
Until next week, may your coffee and contemplations be rich and fulfilling!