Comparison Has been Stealing My Joy
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Health and Wellness

Comparison Has been Stealing My Joy

Putting an End to this Spirit-Squashing Mindset

Comparison Has been Stealing My Joy
Angela Dow

I have a quote at my desk, in just the right place so that my eyes meet it first thing in the morning and I read the powerful words at the start of every day.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”. (From Theodore Roosevelt in case you are wondering).

This saying has a nice ring to it, but it constitutes far more than just a pretty slogan. It's grown into a motto that I recite to myself day after day when the little devil of comparison shows up to convince me that I'm somehow never going to measure up to the ideal standard of intelligence, beauty, discipline, fitness, etc. I've begun the practice of fighting comparison by first confessing my inability to find contentment in who I am, as well as the absurdity in that hard and embarrassing truth. It's impossible to grow without being completely honest, and honesty often necessitates being uncomfortable and vulnerable.

I see girls on the soccer team and I think, “Wow, they’re so in shape. If only I could look like that”. I hear people singing or playing the piano in the music building as I go to practice, and I say to myself, “You don’t deserve to even step foot in this place”. I hear comments made by fellow students in the classroom and immediately think that I’ll never be as smart as them.

This endless cycle of self-criticism and comparison is toxic.

Sometimes, most often actually, the mean voices in my head are bullying nobody but me, and I can be pretty mean. I’ve allowed my thoughts to grow so negative and self-demeaning that I've brought myself to tears several times this week, and I’m confident of one thing: I’m not the only one.

Here is the truth we each need to remind ourselves of: If I continuously look at myself and others through my own “critical” eyes, I’ll never be able to see myself or others through Jesus’s eyes.

It’s exhausting and frustrating trying to walk through life with the belief that I’ll never measure up. Feeling as though I'm forever striving towards an impossible and unachievable standard of perfection makes doing almost anything really difficult. Even though this is a tiresome way to walk through life, it's sometimes even more difficult to attack those lies about self-worth and choose to walk in joy, contentment, and peace in the person God made me to be. In complete honesty, not one area of my life is perfect. Not my appearance, past, or grades are flawless, so the hardest battle lately has been against myself.

I feel like I'm swimming upstream, or walking up a downward escalator, as I give comparison the upper hand and try so hard to present myself as if those areas of my life are impeccable.

I don’t think this is a bad dream I will someday wake up from, shake off, and be free of completely. The difficult reality I'm learning to accept is that I will always need to fight the voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough because I’m just me.

There's something about this issue that makes it universally relatable. I am pretty certain somebody who is reading this has felt at least one of these hurts at some point and has fought the "everybody is doing life better than you" lie.

If anything can be shared by this struggle, an undeniably painful one that sometimes breaks me down and makes me feel weak, it’s this: be strong. It sound’s so cliche, but there are instances when the cheesiest of sayings are appropriate and meaningful. There is strength in choosing to be you. There is power in deciding to be the you that God made you to be and not the you who can never be content enough to love yourself.

About self-love: We don’t love ourselves because we’re perfect, and we definitely don’t love ourselves because we’re without sin and without flaws. We love ourselves because God loves us enough to offer us salvation, welcome us back into loving relationship with Him, and call us to live in light of the truth that we are made in His image and offered abundant life through a purposeful relationship with him. The value that is an inherent trait of your being does not come from having flawless skin, a flat stomach, perfect grades, and frizz-less hair. It comes straight from your Creator.

The strongest message I can offer myself, and others, is this: Instead of comparing yourself to the created, compare yourself to the image of the Creator. Let His Word be your guide and His character be that to which you strive to match.

Disclaimer: you will not attain perfection in this temporary life. There is, however, purpose and joy found in an existence devoted to Him and content with every strange and fascinating part of the life He offers you. Please don’t wait for a husband, wife, degree, job, or perfect family, because those things may not come. Even if they do, they will not satisfy your deepest internal longing.

One thing that will always be there is the unfathomable love of God your Father, the author and perfecter of your faith. He is perfect and always will be.

Jesus, take our mess and give to us your perfection.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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