No Compare

apples-pearsI love to compare things.  Deals for flights.  Books. Peppers in the supermarket. Queues. It works with my shopping.  But less so when it comes to life.

How does my marriage compare to the folks living opposite?  I don’t know them, but they look pretty good.  All lovey and fun and together. Why aren’t Glen and I as carefree? We don’t even garden together! Mind you, it could be worse.  We could be on Jeremy Kyle.

My body.  It does not look the way it used to.  It doesn’t look like the ones I see on TV. I need a pedicure.  A haircut.  Some new underwear. New feet.  Well, at least I know how to cover up.  The worst is when people just let it all hang out.  So undignified…

And what about my spiritual life?  My quiet times. They’re ok – but it’s not like I spend hours praying and reading the Bible.  Not like the other folks in prayer group.  They seem fired up: and I feel flat.  Am I even a Christian? On the other hand, I’ve been to church twice in the last week.  Some folks don’t even make it once.

Comparisons are never good.  They leave us feeling puffed up – or they leave us feeling flat.  They’re fuelled by insecurity and pride and they feed on discontent.  I’m ‘better’. I’m ‘worse’. How do I compare to X? (And does X even exist?)

Comparisons point us inward – but they make us forget who we are.They send us scrabbling to crutches like home or nail varnish. They’re exhausting and they’re never satisfied. They make my friends into rivals and they turn life into a competition where no-one wins.

We would not dare put ourselves in the same class with, or compare ourselves to, those who recommend themselves. Whenever they measure themselves by their own standards or compare themselves among themselves, they show how foolish they are…

For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Cor 10:12 +18)

God created us different; but equally precious. But if I spend my time comparing myself to other people, I stop looking to Christ and miss out on who I’m made to be. What we have in common is this: we are all saved by grace –  so no-one is better or worse than anyone else. Next time I look at my sister or brother I should think: “God is up to something good in their life, whether or not they ‘deserve’ it (they almost certainly don’t!).” And I can look at my own circumstances and say: “God is up to something in my own life, whether or not I ‘deserve’ it (I definitely, definitely don’t.” Now I’m free to look to you with gratitude and to press on with my own path. But I can’t follow Christ if I’m looking over my shoulder.


4 thoughts on “No Compare

  1. Hi Emma. You’re so right, and yet even at the earliest ages at school the comparisons start – who is the fastest, the most advanced academically, the most popular, the prize winner and so on. And it gets used like a carrot to improve performance, to stretch us all to achieve and progress. And no doubt to feed our insecurities. And the church is often not much better – who is ‘up front’ who are the ‘leaders’, who is the most hospitable, the greenest, who lives sacrificially … need I go on.
    In truth, whatever we may or may not have been will fade as the years pass. What then? The only real antidote to measuring our self-worth against others is to root it in the knowledge of how acceptable, how beloved we are to God and those who love us no matter what. And who knows that in itself may change us to desire deeper and more satisfying riches.

  2. Emma. I love this post. So beautifully written (as always!)
    Your last line has a particular resonance and I’m glad I read this this morning as I suspect it is the reminder I need.
    Lots of love to you


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