::Comparison:: The joy thief
In middle school all the girls were wearing steel toed Doc Martens and colored ribbons tied in their hair. And yes, together. It was like prepster meets grunge and it was all the rage. I on the other hand lacked these wardrobe essentials, at least for this year. Doc Martens were expensive and impractical to an adolescent school girl and my parents didn't think they were a necessity unless they finally cashed in on their threats to send me to military school.
But girls are cruel, especially at that age. I got teased for my lack of proper footwear and hair adornments, among other things. I tried to fit in, buying Doc Marten knockoffs, wearing scantily tied ribbons, and even spray tanning (my white skin had an aversion to turning brown naturally..it rather preferred red), but all that ever came of it was the "orange" disaster of 1998 that I'd still rather not talk about.
I got the message that year loud and clear. Being me just isn't good enough.
I spent the better part of the next ten years comparing myself to every girl I met, torturing myself with the "is-she's." Is she better than me? Is she prettier than me? Is she smarter than me?
And then one day, God whacked me out of my misery.
There will always be someone better than you.
Okay...ouch. This wasn't turning in to the pep talk I'd hoped for and I wasn't sure where it was going.
There will always be someone better than you, if you continue to believe there IS a better...
Who decides what's better or not?
Huh. Good question. Was it the girls in school? The ones in the magazines with adobe as their secret weapon? The men gawking at those magazines? Was it my parents, or their parents, or other people's parents? Or some fashion designer (whose name I can't quite pronounce)?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that God doesn't like cookie cutter creatures. Nature attests to this. There are literally millions of different organisms on planet Earth, each of them unique from bacteria to birds. No, this God loves diversity.
So why was I striving for uniformity?
Comparison is a thief, particularly of two things; time and joy. Wasted moments and missed opportunities lie in it's path. How much time (and head space) is spent on thoughts about others? How many opportunities are missed as we focus on other's journeys instead of our own? And how much joy is stolen at thinking about those who may (or may not be) "better" than us?
Jeremiah 18:4, Isaiah 45:9, and Isaiah 29:16 speak of God as potter and of us as clay, pottery shards, fancified mud! Any potter will tell you that there is no bowl, pot, or vase that is exactly alike and yet they are all crafted from the same loving artist.
How silly that we think we could be the judge of good or bad, better or worse! How foolish to think that we can make a judgement about someone else's life without really knowing them at all. If we knew, if we really knew someone else's life, would we trade with them? I don't think so. And how senseless to think that we, the clay, could tell the Potter His work is sub-parr...at least on this particular vessel.
Comparison is a thief and a liar, one that will continue to rob us daily of joy, time, focus, and most importantly truth. The truth is that you were created with love, carefully, for a purpose. Best of all, you are one-of-a-kind, and you also have a one-of-a-kind journey. One laid out just and only for you. If you focus on other's accomplishments and turn your eye to their journey, you may just risk missing your own.
Don't let comparison steal one more thing from you. Don't believe the lie that being you isn't good enough. In fact being "you" is the ultimate goal!
And please, don't use those self tanning lotions or sprays. Trust me on that one. ;-)