Life and other catastrophes · Relating to God

The comparison game

Ever felt the urge to compare your body to someone else’s? Or wonder why some things come so easy to other people while you have to struggle through the same problems every day? Or why you weren’t given the talents or gifts of someone who seems to just naturally succeed at life?

Making comparisons is a common past-time. The media is often blamed – and rightly so – for the pressure it places on young women to look a certain way. Even churches, which should be places of acceptance and freedom to be who God has gifted you to be – can become competitive too. Not in terms of looks necessarily, but sometimes over how much work you’re doing for the church, or how committed you are, or sadly, how vocal or politically astute you are… And some youth groups can be more intimidating than high school, with the pressure to fit a certain mould. I guess churches are run by human beings after all – so it isn’t that much of a shock. It’s hardly ideal however, and thankfully there are many churches that aren’t like this. It’s well worth finding one that’s full of grace, love and acceptance of who you are and what you have to offer.

I think Facebook can be a breeding ground for competition and comparisons too – after all, it’s also populated by humans. Had a bad day? Well log on and witness how many women have had breakfast in bed served by their fabulous husband when you’ve just gone through a separation… or observe photos of all these gorgeous newborns when you’ve been trying for a baby for years… And it’s really not the fault of the person posting the pics or the glowing comments – most of the time they’re just sharing good news. But because human nature is to compare ourselves to others, observing it can be quite depressing…

I like this quote I saw on Facebook once: “One reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel.” (Grace Marshall). Facebook is a truckload of highlight reels. Of course if you knew the behind-the-scenes of every smiling image, you would find the girl on your friends list would probably have just as many insecurities, low moments in the space of a day, and silent struggles, as you.

One of the challenges my husband and I have faced in recent years is raising a son who is quite intense, and often visibly burdened by his frustrations. He takes life seriously, can be very argumentative, and is quite beholden to routines, preferences and rituals that many other children (or so it seems) aren’t. He can be quite fragile emotionally, especially in social situations. I have many times questioned what we could’ve done – or should do differently. And if there is something to diagnose, we don’t know what it is yet. Lots of speculation at this stage, nothing official. I sometimes struggle when I see other mums’ kids socialising well, and am tempted to assume their family must have it so much easier. But of course, when I think this way I’m not seeing the whole picture. We’re all struggling with something, at some time.

I guess whatever we’re facing, or dissatisfied with, it’s so reassuring to know we have a God who has mapped out our life from the beginning. He knew what struggles would be unique to us – and has a plan and a purpose for each of our experiences, good and bad. The beautiful thing is that no one is going to be better at dealing with my set of problems than me. Not that it’s that easy to tell myself this when parenting has reached a new low – or when something else has crashed down around me. But I am equipped. With God, I have what it takes to get through. And if I don’t already have the tools and skills needed to face my daily dilemmas, then I will by the end of it all! I am a work in progress, and I’m being moulded by each new thing that comes my way. Best of all, I have a loving, comforting Heavenly Father who knows exactly what I need at all times.

Not that it isn’t still tempting to play the comparison game. But when I remember that God’s ways are higher than mine, his intentions towards me are only good, and he is with me all the way – then I find the strength to keep pushing through and meeting each new day with confidence, boldness and wisdom… He is more than enough for me!

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10 thoughts on “The comparison game

  1. We have issues with our older son, and it is hard not to be envious when I see other parents interacting with their children without getting the agrumentative tone we get from our son. Over the past few months, I have become friends with a few ladies who have 9 and 10 year olds – they complain about the same thing! Even though I don’ see it when they are out in public, apparently they do struggle with it, too. It’s comforting to know…I guess misery does like company 🙂

    1. Hehe yes, I think support groups (in whatever form they take) are underrated. It’s reassuring to know it isn’t just us going through something, and there’s that natural empathy that you don’t always get from the people who seem to ‘have it all together’. Thanks for sharing x

  2. Have you noticed that when we compare our lives to someone else’s, it’s always to someone who looks like they’ve got it all together? Like you said, we are all dealing with something, you just don’t know what sorrows or difficulties someone is going through in their life. In a way, this sort of reminds me of how I would compare my standard of living to someone who had a higher standard–of course, I came up jealous and wanting. So, I started comparing my home, etc to someone who lived in a much less desirable home, and I found myself grateful. My husband and I just spent the afternoon at a doctor’s house from our church along with 8 other people. He has a beautiful home, and I can admire it, and think it’s nice, but I’m no longer jealous. I’m thankful for what God has given me and He has given me so much!

    1. That’s a beautiful journey that you’ve been through – moving through those natural feelings of desire for something someone else has, to coming to realise how much you really have and being truly appreciative and content… That’s true perspective. Thanks for sharing x

  3. Loved this – that quote about reading highlight reels is so true (reading blogs can feel like that sometimes too!) My girlfriends and I used to feel the pressure to have our homes tidy the way they were pre-children until one day it came out that we were all rushing round before the other arrived, throwing everything in the master bedroom and pretending we could do the kids and keep the house tidy! Much better that we learn to live real not just with each other, but also with ourselves. We’re fostering a close family member at the moment and I’ve found that it’s only when I’m real with myself about where my capabilties end, that God is free to step in and be all that I need in that situation.
    Thanks for writing ‘real’ – bless you x

    1. Thank you 🙂 Haha it’s so true – I know at the moment I expend a lot of energy into creating a good impression (or at least trying to fool myself into thinking I actually do live neat etc most of the time!), I think that’s true about when we learn how to come to the end of ourselves. God is amazing in our weakness huh. Bless you xx

  4. I soo love this paragraph! “But I am equipped. With God, I have what it takes to get through. And if I don’t already have the tools and skills needed to face my daily dilemmas, then I will by the end of it all! I am a work in progress, and I’m being moulded by each new thing that comes my way. Best of all, I have a loving, comforting Heavenly Father who knows exactly what I need at all times.”

    I used to compare myself a lot with others, even my friends or people at my church (sometimes I still catch myself doing so) but I realized that God has gifted each of us differently to be used for the same purpose. I am learning to accept myself for the way God has created me.

    It sounds like you are doing a great job at being a parent. 🙂 I think your son will grow up to be a man with such great wisdom and become a radical lover of Jesus, that could why he seems a little bit more serious and a little bit more emotional than other kids his age. I love that you are leaning towards God for everything.
    Blessings to you! ❤

    1. Wow, what a beautiful and encouraging comment Ana Bella, thank you and bless you. I’m so glad God has taken you on a journey where you came to realise that what you offer is unique, highly valuable, and that God has created you for a beautiful purpose. You are loved as you are, and for what you offer. Keep being a blessing!
      Yes quite true.. More than anything I want him to love Jesus.. That would be awesome. Thank you again, bless you xx

  5. Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight into your life as a believer. I think that two of the hardest things in our life is learning to be content with what God provides and truly happy for others. After reading your Comparison Game, it looks like you’ve dealt well with these two issues.

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