One of the biggest discouragements we can fall into is when we compare. It hits us all at some stage. I was encouraged by my daughters over the last few days as I slipped into a bit of a funk; they came along side of me and told me words that I had told them many times.
- You’re not comparing yourself are you Mum?
- You are not them, be yourself!
I did have to hear those words!
The thing with comparing ourselves to another isn’t so much the acknowledging that there is a difference, but somehow we internalise that difference to be a weakness in ourselves. It is this aspect that makes comparisons so damaging.
Five things happen when we compare:
- We feel less than the other person because we see their successes and our failures or limitations.
- We feel guilty because we haven’t made it yet, and we really should have!
- We are distracted and start doing things to be like that other person.
- We are exhausted because our goals are unrealistic
- We are robbed of our joy because we are not being true to ourselves.
Thanks to my upbringing that developed a strong security in who I am (both in Christ, and in my family), I am usually able to stand pretty strong against comparisons. But – there is always a but! When we are tired, uncertain, or overwhelmed it is easier to see someone else’s successes, and our own failures. This is when we need someone to get along side of us and remind us to keep our focus on what is true.
The thing is – if we were able to compare and not judge ourselves as less, or create a bucket-load of guilt for ourselves, it would actually be a helpful thing. If only we could look at someone as a role model and see the opportunities for ourselves to grow, not the failures in not being like them already.
To learn from those who have gone before us is a good thing. In order to look at someone else and see their differences and choose to learn from them, not judge ourselves as less comes down to our motivation for change. Why do we want to change?
- Do I want to grow in that area to be like ‘them’? Or…
- Do I want to grow in that area to be the best I can be?
- Do I want to grow in that area so that I can do the things that are on my heart?
The issue actually becomes an issue of contentment. When we focus so much on our weaknesses, we become discontent with who we are, we become discontent with our journey. Can we be content to be who we are, where we are, and where we are going? Sometimes, especially when we are tired, overwhelmed or uncertain this takes trusting God.
So when an attack of comparison comes upon you, I pray that you have someone to stand alongside of you – to remind you of who you are, to remind you of who God is, and the purposes He has for you.
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