So, stop it!
I know this sounds harsh, but you need to hear it. The reason I know you need to hear it is that I needed to hear it once upon a time. In fact, there are days when I still need this punch in the gut. We need someone to tell us to stop comparing our families to other families!
I totally understand this struggle. I’ve wrestled with this for nearly 20 years. It’s a vicious trap. It has the power to overshadow anything and everything good and right in your life. Just when you reach a point of contentment, someone rolls past, strutting a seemingly perfect life and the wind gets knocked right out of you!
Painful, I know. All-consuming and constricting…I know that too!
I once heard a well-renowned keynote speaker say from a big bright stage in front of several thousands of people- “I know you look at me and you see what I do up here, and you think to yourself, ‘If only I could do that, If only I were that good. If only I had that gift and could make it to the place he’s at, I’d be a success.’ Friends, I’m here to tell you a simple truth- Don’t base your success or failure on what you don’t know about me! You can’t see the scars on my heart.”
It’s a truth that you and I need to apply to our lives and our families:
Stop basing your self-worth and value as a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, or a family on what you don’t know about someone else!
I know they drive a car that is “better” than yours. I know her kids seem perfect. I know their children wear Gap Kids or Justice and you feel discontent with the hand-me-downs that your children are wearing. I know how it feels to look at someone else’s life and, in comparison, feel abnormal, out-of-touch, and like you just don’t measure up.
May I offer a perspective that was once offered to me?
Perhaps their material possessions are just medication? Maybe they’re an ointment for a gaping wound. They could just be a layer of fog, disguising some serious hurt and hopelessness.
The reality could be that just 6 inches from the exterior of their expensive, spotless home, to the inside, there is utter brokenness and pain. Their family could be hanging on by a thread and the shiny things are just smoke and mirrors. All of those things you look at and envy could be a cover-up for serious darkness.
You look at their house, survey their family, compare your life to their so-called perfect one, and you’re sad.
Don’t be. Instead, be grateful for what you’ve been given. Be grateful for your spouse, your children, your career, and your home. You and I can’t see the agony and hopelessness behind someone else’s walls. We must stop basing our self-worth on the knowledge we don’t have about someone else.
Maybe instead of jealousy or comparison we should look at them with compassion? Maybe we should offer to serve, rather than stand with our arms crossed secretly wishing we were them? Maybe giving ourselves instead of comparing ourselves is the healthier approach?
It’s not easy. As I stated earlier, I know. I’ve been there. It’s a struggle I’ve had in my life. It’s a demon that creeps around me at nearly every turn. But I’m learning to live in-spite of it. It’s so unbelievably hard to do in a world that constantly holds up shiny, expensive things. I’m learning to be grateful for all that God has blessed me with. I’m learning to serve those around me with no strings attached.
How about you?
Do you struggle with the comparison trap?