I was about halfway through writing my first article. The deadline was in twenty-four hours, I really liked the topic, and even though I was struggling through the process, I was excited to complete it. But as I was searching for the words to express my thoughts, doubts about my writing crept in.
I thought of an Odyssey article that I had recently read. The author, a woman from my university, gracefully expressed poignant thoughts in a way that touched my heart. I looked at my own work through the lens of her skill and only saw a messy attempt to fit my jumbled thoughts into words on paper.
After spending a few more minutes in doubt, my train of thought derailed at an encounter that I had with several friends earlier that day. Two different friend groups had converged and instead of feeling overjoyed that everybody got along and enjoyed each other, I felt distinctly unloved. I saw a close friend bond with the other people in the group and I envisioned how all my friends would prefer her to me. In my moment of doubt, I compared my quiet, steady nature to her bubbly, inviting character and saw myself as so much less than her.
In moments like these, Theodore Roosevelt's words ring true: comparison is the thief of joy.
It all comes down to this: I find my value in how other people see me. When I compared myself to another writer, I imagined that everyone who read my article would perceive me as inferior to their standard of good writing. When I compared my friendships with the new ones that my other friend was forming, I was struck with the thought that my friends would eventually realize how little I have to offer them and abandon me for my other friend.
I realize how unrealistic that sounds, especially if you know me. I may not be the perfect author, but I have good writing skills that I'm improving on. I know that my friends care about me, they may have a different relationship with me than they have with other people, but they love me nonetheless. I have so much, yet the moment I see someone who has something more than me I feel inadequate.
But for every doubt, for every comparison in which I fall short, I find joy again and again as I pursue my identity in Christ. If you struggle with comparison as well, this is for you.
In Christ, there is love.
Embrace it. There is nothing you can do to earn this love, you can only accept it as a gift. His love does not fade, and it does not change. "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever," so if He loved you yesterday, He loves you today, and He will love you for eternity (Heb. 13:8, ESV).
In Christ, you are valued.
"You were bought at a price," not with things of earthly value, "but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 18,19, ESV). You are so precious to God that you are worth more than any earthly possession. In fact, His love for you is so great that Jesus Christ endured humiliation, pain, and death on your behalf.
In Christ, I am redeemed.
I continually strive for perfection only to fall short, time after time again. Even though I can never be perfect, Jesus Christ is. The best part? It is that my old self has "been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me... and I live by faith in the son of God who loves me" (Gal. 2:10, ESV). Even though we are not righteous by ourselves, Jesus Christ, perfection itself, dwells inside of all believers.
In Christ, I find joy in humility.
Trust me on this one.I know that humility is difficult to practice; I am trying to live it out. Look to Philippians 2 and be reminded to "in humility consider others better than yourself," not through comparison, as I struggle with, but by loving people without expecting anything in return.
In Christ, I can love others without comparison.
Because Christ loves you unconditionally, values you as a priceless treasure, and redeems you from the deepest of pain and sin, you no longer need to compare yourself with others to discern your value. God calls you his child and asks that you share that love with others as well.
Let me share one more thing with you. In one of the more difficult moments this semester, I picked up my notebook and jotted down my own statement of faith that reminds me that I identify as a daughter of my heavenly King. Read it, and let the truth sink in.
I am no longer a slave to
I am a child of God.
I am a daughter of the King, holy and dearly loved. I am not shaken by the world, inferior because of comparison, or intimidated by perfection. I no longer need to measure up to others because I was bought at a price by my God who loves me and gave himself up for me. In him I find joy, and in him I find peace. Amen.