But more than likely, our tendency to compare surfaces with those we normally hold dear.
I have been guilty of the comparison trap off and on for decades. I think it’s something that sneaks up on you and for the most part, you don’t even know it’s happening. But regardless of whether or not you are aware, I think it’s safe to say that the root issue, is judgement.
We judge others. We judge ourselves. We judge God. We look at our surroundings and our lives and we think, If I were in charge, I would have done this better. Or, If I were her, I would have it made. I remember feeling that way several years ago about my singleness. I hadn’t dated all throughout my 20s and early 30s and I was super frustrated at the process. So I started writing stories where characters would experience the very things I wanted to. I felt, I could be a better author than God. Well, since then, He has certainly proven me wrong.
Years ago when I was struggling with a friend’s journey, and comparing my life to theirs, God gave me a word. I saw how, in that season, she got so much of what I wanted, which were the very things He was asking me to give up. She got to move away from the hometown I so desperately wanted to leave. She got to travel the world I so desperately wanted to see. She got the marriage I was called to wait for. She got to work in ministry like I thought I would be working in. Then one day (and this was years later mind you) when I was stewing over my frustration with my calling and journey (and all the things I felt I was missing out on) I heard Him say, “But do you want her trials, Nicole?” Hmmm. Wow. And I knew in my heart of hearts, that no. I did not want her trials. I did not want the hard things she was called to.
What I really wanted was her blessings combined with my blessings. In a sense, I wanted to trade my hardships for her blessings.
What I think often happens in the comparison trap, is that we look at someone’s life and we see the highlights. We see the good stuff. And we think, “I wish I could have that. Why don’t I have what they have?” The problem is that we are only looking at one area of their lives and comparing it to one area of our own. We aren’t looking at the whole picture of a person’s journey. And therein lies the folly.
Just last night I was entertaining some friends in my home. We had an evening out planned and took time beforehand to connect. This particular friend loves my home, and when she comes over I am always reminded of what a blessing it is. After she shared her frustration with not being able to obtain this goal yet in her life (she is a few years younger than me) I told her that I waited almost 15 years for this blessing, and her eyes exploded. When I read my old journals, I can see where 24-year-old Nicole was trying to buy a house then. I had a good job. I had sustainability. My peers were certainly doing it. Yet God had me lay down that desire to instead, move to the “hood” and live with strangers (two suburban Caucasian women BTW).
I can see that the blessing I’ve received in this home (and in other areas of my life) was a result of long suffering and obedience to sacrifice the areas God called me to over the years. But something I didn’t mention to my friend is that this blessing also was a trade off. I received this home when my mom was glorified. And in all honesty, I would trade it in a second if it meant just one more conversation with her. That is the hard part. But that is the part we don’t think about when we are comparing.
The realization I’ve come to, is that we are all uniquely wired and only our Creator knows the best path of life for each of us. We don’t want to hear that though. We want to all be the same, like cookie cutter houses in a suburban city. But we are more like the houses from my hometown (that I now love BTW) Cleveland, where each home is different. Each home has character. Your friend’s season could be a high while yours is a low. But then yours could be low when theirs is high and that is because what they need is not necessarily what you need to grow and evolve into who they are called to be. The truth is that we can each go through various different life experiences and yet learn the same lessons.
My encouragement? Focus on your lessons. And He will reward you.
I am a witness.
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