For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Co 10:12
Recently a friend of mine asked me to watch a film about a dyslexic boy. Because of his inability to grasp certain concepts the way other boys his age did, he was constantly in trouble. As a result of his “inadequacy” his parents would compare him with his older brother, who brought home excellent academic reports, and was basically a model child. I wonder how many are out there with painful memories of enduring the suffering of being compared to a sibling, a cousin, or the neighbor’s child across the street.
One thing I have found out since I began to understand the issues with identity is, that there is always someone out there brighter, smarter, more intelligent than any of us who -because we are so human- could possibly think of ourselves as having those very gifts. Comparing ourselves with others could turn into a never ending affair, where a person with greater gifts than ours, will in turn compare him or herself with someone of higher capabilities, better looks, etc.
Comparison brings to mind a line of people climbing a ladder where a man named let's say, "Tom," who is on a higher step is looking up to see who is on an even higher round, comparing himself to that person above and feeling inadequate because he's still one step below. At the same time he is looking down the ladder thinking of how much better he is than the person right below. It won’t be impossible to end up like Lucifer, who thought himself higher than the Begotten Son, and at the top of the ladder had no one else to compare himself with, so he decided “I would be like the Most High."
The story of that fallen angel and his desire to do better, to achieve more, to be higher than his Maker, has already a very sad end, since we all know how God Himself will finish the controversy. The very sad fact is that comparison involves more than meets the eye because it develops in the heart feelings of jealousy, envy, superiority or inferiority, faultfinding, etc. In other words, the very attributes of the fallen angel who having it all, became unahappy and ceased to appreciate the gifts the Creator had endowed him with. “Why,” questioned this mighty angel, “should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He honored above Lucifer?” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 36.
What an agonizing struggle this can be unless we come to an understanding of how God loves us. It was a struggle for me, and it still is at times, until I am reminded that He loves me just the way I am, and that He himself does not compare me with anyone else! I am so grateful that I no longer have a ladder to climb and that I don't have to be like "Tom" or anyone else out there. That there is no need to look above or below, because each one of those people with their God given talents and abilities are the Father's precious children, and He loves each one as He himself made them, special, unique, His children in whom He is well pleased. I don't need to compare myself with them, or to compare them with others.
It is a precious and priceless thing to me to know that I'm a child of God, and He loves me just the way He loves His Son. I don't understand it, but my heart leaps with joy upon the contemplation of this love and all I can quietly say in the depth of my poor, wretched soul is, "behold what manner of love!"
Since the Father has divided “to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor 12:11) shouldn’t we be satisfied with the gifts and talents he has so graciously given us? And since He has appointed teachers (1 Cor 12:28) to nurture and helps us grow, won’t it be better to learn what God desires to teach us through them? Instead of dealing with the pain and disappointment comparison causes, it would seem that God would be pleased to see us using our gifts, great or small, to help each other, and more importantly to further His cause and glorify His name.
It’s been a week or so since I watched the film, and thinking about it reminded me of a short video where JJ Heller talks about the comparison issue. Here is what she says:
“A lot of teenagers struggle with the idea of self-worth, and I think it’s not just teenagers, I think its most people at most ages, I think specially as a teen there is so much pressure to look a certain way, or to act a certain way, or to hang out with a certain group of people, and if you do, then you feel better about yourself. But that’s not reality, God has made each of us so special and so unique, He is the most please when we can be comfortable being ourselves and to use those gifts that he is given us and we don’t have to try to be like anybody else because God made them to be different, and He delights in each of us in a different way and we can be proud of the person who God made us to be.
I heard a quote a while back, I think it’s by C.S. Lewis, “comparison kills joy,” and yet I find myself doing it all the time, whether is, you know, “I, oh, I have a better outfit than her”, or, “she is so much prettier than me” or, "why couldn’t I have gotten that opportunity," and I catch myself doing that a lot, and then I feel like God kind of speaks to me and reminds me that He’s giving me so much. He doesn’t compare me to anybody else, so I shouldn’t compare myself.”
You can listen to her below: