I was having a rough time teaching Sunday school this past week. One of those times where I felt like a stranger in a group I’ve known 10+ years. The path of faith felt heavy, I was tired. In the midst of me fumbling through a lesson, one of the guys, who doesn’t talk too much, spoke up. He said (and I paraphrase):
As a high school coach, football practice has started back up. With the heat, no one wants to be there. He said as he watches the guys run down the field, he watches their heads, where they are looking. Many of the guys look around, making sure that they are keeping pace with others… instead of giving their all and running.
He said that we all do that as Christians. We focus too much on others, comparing, instead of looking forward and running the race.
And with that, God slapped me upside the head.
Are you looking forward or looking around?
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. – Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Comparison is dangerous.
We often compare ourselves to others:
How come I haven’t started my own company like her?
Why don’t I have a truck like him?
If he can write a book, why can’t I?
Why do they have a housekeeper and we don’t?
We even compare ourselves to the person we see in the mirror:
I wish I weighed the same as I did when we first were married.
If only I was optimistic like I was back in college, things would be different.
The act of comparison is a circular thought trap. We become me-focused, selfish, ignoring the blessings God has given us. People he has surrounded us with; things we have been given for his glory.
This month, I want to shine a spotlight on the comparison trap. Don’t fall for it. Change your focus. Join me as I write down what I am thankful for, once a day, until Thanksgiving.
If anything, we’ll be thankful that this exercise in thankfulness is over.
Note: This all boils down to an issue of the heart. There is nothing wrong with measuring ourselves. Grades let us know how we are doing in school. Performance reviews show us how we can do better at work. The world of social media can cause us to live in comparison to others. It’s time to stop.