It is such a DIY world these days. I, for one am quite grateful for the access we have to unlimited how-to information. I can’t imagine going through this season of life (newly-wed, new homeowner, etc.) without a manual on anything imaginable at my fingertips. * Thanks, Internet! *
It’s pretty incredible to have that kind of access in my everyday life, but I have to carefully ward off the negative side effects that come with it. Have you heard before that “Comparison is the thief of joy”? Teddy Roosevelt said it. You know something? He’s exactly right.
I’m of the Millennial generation. We can remember what it was like to not have the unlimited resources of the Internet, but it’s a little vague. Ever since we’ve been able to create things on our own, we’ve had a built-in comparison system. It sort of feels like I’ve never known the bliss of being able to appreciate and be proud of something I’ve done without the cloud of comparison hanging over me, stemming from a 2.5-second Pinterest or Google Image search.
Sometimes I tell myself I feel that way because this way of life is all I’ve ever known. However, one’s generation has little to do with how today’s culture can so easily manipulate our feelings and what we believe about ourselves, our work, our hopes, etc. There’s a fine line we’re forced to walk between inspiration and the downward spiral of comparison. How do we protect ourselves against falling over that line to the darker side?
Galatians 6:4 says, Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.
Well, yeah. That makes total sense. However, I’ll be honest with you and say that it feels good to be good at something. Right? And, (for me, at least) it feels not-so-awesome to attempt something and be disappointed with the result. With this verse in mind, it seems like God knew that we would fight these exact feelings, doesn’t it?
When I was struggling with these feelings recently, I heard Steven Furtick (a fantastic pastor from Elevation Church in North Carolina) being interviewed on how he deals with the pressure of getting “results” (seeing people respond to the Gospel, in his situation). His response humbled me. He said, “It’s hard to do, but I try to remind myself to focus less on being impressive and more on being a blessing.”
…aaaaand then I crawled out of my sad pit of comparison and realized something: Because focusing less on ourselves is hard to do, that tells me it’s not natural for us. It’s not natural for us because it is the way of Christ. So, how are we supposed to manage being like Christ? “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
Okay, seriously?! Again, it’s as if God read my diary before the earth was formed. 😉
So, here’s the deal. I hope to always have ambitions. I hope to always want to learn new things and create fun stuff and to work this Internet age of wide-open access to my advantage. If this is going to be the case, I must also promise to have an even stronger ambition to cling to Christ; to take off the blinders of comparison and abide by Truth.
Does this make sense? Am I alone?
How do you struggle with comparison?
How do you protect your joy?