I’ve always loved photography. The way a picture can say so much without using a single word is such a beautiful thing. Don’t get me wrong here; I’m not a professional photographer (unless you count my ability to utilize a well-placed filter). Nope, I’m actually not very gifted in this particular area of the arts—just a fan girl who loves the colors, contrast, and stories that pictures tell.
Now, rewind a few years back to when Instagram was catching traction. Imagine my enthusiasm as I discovered a social media outlet that highlighted pictures without the long explanation (well, for most people anyway!). Yes, I was lost in countless minutes of blissful scrolling. Or so it would seem. I’m sure you can take a stab at where this is going. “Countless minutes” started to add up and my “blissful scrolling” only served to tether an unwelcome companion to my every thought. Comparison.
Now this isn’t really a jab at social media. Even though I’ve heard it said that those of us alive today are bombarded with more prospects to compare than ever. No, this is much deeper than any social platform. This is a thing of a fallen, broken world. This is actually a root issue with visible branches. The Bible says,
there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NASB) so surely there have been opportunities for comparison even before technology existed.
Merriam-Webster defines comparison like this,
an examination of two or more items to establish similarities and dissimilarities. That feels a bit heavy, so let’s try again, shall we? How about,
looking at two or more things (or people) and finding all the ways they fall short or don’t measure up to the other thing/person (and sometimes similarities are found but most of the time someone ends up short-handed? Yep. That feels about right. What can seem like no big deal actually has profound consequences. What felt so innocent had become a heavy accessory in my life.
You see, comparison tells you that you don’t have enough. Comparison whispers that you are lacking—a poor beggar with no resources and no hope for the future. It’s the voice that whispers,
She’s so much prettier than you. Why can’t you just lose some weight? It’s the feeling in your gut when someone is further along in their craft than you and instead of learning and listening and allowing that person to speak into your life, you wither away.
If they’re good at what they do, then there must not be room for you at the table, comparison murmurs. It partners with perfectionism and tells you that if you can just work a little harder, longer, and faster, then you’ll get things right and people will finally accept you. It’s unsettled and uncontent with what you have and makes it all too easy to miss the good that’s right in front of you. Yes, comparison is a cruel, weighty thing.
A few months back, after a series of such related thoughts (that only led to feeling discouraged and thankless), I read a verse that hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never thought about it in relation to this topic before because, one, who likes to admit they have a comparison problem? And, two, surely the writer was talking about a “real” sin (yep, I actually thought that). Nevertheless, it took me by surprise and has been my lifeline on this topic. It’s found in Hebrews 12:1-2 and says this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
Wow. It was as if I felt the Spirit say,
COMPARISON has been your weight. COMPARISON has been slowing you down. COMPARISON has been preventing you from running the race God has for you! Ugh. I’m not gonna lie, it was an incredibly humbling moment with Jesus! But He didn’t leave me in the trenches to wallow. Instead, He reminded me of the end of that verse:
let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. Yes. Strip it off, throw it down, run with endurance, eyes on Jesus. Yes Lord, but please help me!
Friend, I’m nowhere near perfect in this area but I’m sick of hobbling in my own race because comparison has weighed me down. I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard to run when you’re constantly looking to the left or to the right. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) While I’ve probably wasted much precious time running this way, I’m so grateful the Father meets me with grace. When I cry out for help, I’m not berated, shamed, or even lectured. Instead, I’m met with new mercy for each day. Praise God! Praise God that each time comparison knocks on my door, He’s there reminding me,
strip it off, throw it down, eyes on Me!