On sunny days, when my three sons were young, we would walk to the park near our home to swing and climb and play. A one car family, our outings were a respite of joy! We were blessed to have a car that ran but, well, it wasn’t a very nice looking car. It was an older, dinged up, four-door sedan and I confess, I really wanted a mini-van. (Yes, I did. Badly.)
I remember one day at the park watching as a new, shiny green mini-van pulled up to the park and I wondered, ‘What would my life be like if I drove a car like THAT?”
I figured that if I drove that car, everything would be much, much better! If I had that car, my house would be neat and tidy. My furniture would match. My laundry would be put away. I would be a woman who planned meals out two weeks in advance. If I drove a car like that then our bills would be organized, our checkbook balanced and our spice rack alphabetized. I would never feel sorrow well up in my heart in the dead of night. I’d have the Bible memorized! There would be world peace! No one would go hungry! Oh wait, I was getting carried away. This was a car mind you.
Then the lovely, fit woman got out of the pretty mini-van with her healthy, happy children wearing clean and matching clothes and confirmed my every suspicion. Green mini-van = a good life. Further, being lovely and fit, having children who appeared happy and healthy and wore clean and matching clothes = a good life.
Which as you well know, translated very quickly in my heart to – “My life is a bad one. It is without deep value or worth.”
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy” and boy was he right. We tend to compare our worst to another person’s best and we come out poorly. We compare another person’s smile with our inward sadness and we hide in shame. We compare our body to another woman’s more fit one and our joy shrinks. We compare what we imagine another person’s life to be like (without really knowing their story) with our known reality and we grieve. We compare ourselves with others and our hope melts and our sense of value dissipates like the mist.
Ever compare yourself? Ever thought that if you had someone else’s life, their car, their husband, their job, their body, their hair, their gifting, their “you name it”…then all would be, if not well, then at least much, much better! We’ve all done it. We’ve all had our joy stolen.
Comparison is a problem. I know we can’t help but look. And looking isn’t necessarily bad. By watching other mothers, I have learned how to be a better mother. By watching other friends and leaders and teachers, I have learned how to be a better friend and a more smitten lover of God! We want to lead lives that cause others to yearn after Jesus. People are watching. We want what they see to spur them on to love. Let our viewing of others do the same. Not to buoy our sense of self worth via another person’s failure or suffering. Not to shame ourselves into trying to “do better” via another person’s success. Not to compare but to learn. And always with an eye on love and a heart geared toward gratefulness for the gift of our incomparable life.
God caught my heart that day at the park and he continues to catch it. My messy life is a gift. He loves me now – not if and not when but now. He loves you, too.
You are loved. Right now. Your life does matter! When God looks at you, he sees the one for whom he gave everything and won everything so that you could be with him forever. You are chosen. You are the apple of his eye. You are the joy that was set before Jesus. Ask God to help you to know that. Ask for his view on your life. Ask him to help you to see yourself as he does. Because when you do, nothing can compare to that!