One way to not let comparison kill your dreamer’s heart is to focus on your own life. After all, comparison, and wishful thinking, don’t just hurt the individual.
I didn’t get Facebook until after graduating from high school. I wasn’t behind the game so much because my parents wouldn’t let me, but because I didn’t care—or even realize what I was missing.
Oh I remember those first days of setting up my profile. Thinking up funny quotes, the best way to describe me, sending friend requests. (And back in the day, when someone accepted a friend request, the profile showed who did the requesting and who did the accepting.) I had a flair board (anyone remember those?) on one of my tabs and had more flair pins than there was space for them. People wrote on each other’s walls all the time and spent time commenting on photo albums, which could only hold 60 photos at a time.
It’s changed a lot.
Back in the Myspace and early Facebook days, social media was just another vessel for keeping in touch with people. It extended the arm of in-person friendship and was an addition to our culture. But now it shapes the culture. Social media is now a requirement to be invited to events, get information about our volunteer responsibilities, and build any sort of business or influential platform. It’s the way we receive our news and entertain ourselves.
For years now, we’ve been struggling to separate ourselves from this massive digital arm threatening to encapsulate our entire lives. Which we let happen because it simplifies our day-to-day life.
But we don’t like it because it also consumes our daily life. And it also strengthens the comparison trap.
Also Read: How to Focus Better
The comparison trap
We look at the amazing opportunities other people get: the number of followers they, the people they meet, the events they attend. We wonder why we never get those opportunities, or why we only have 200 followers on Twitter.
Are we not good enough?
Another deflation I feel while scrolling through Instagram is any time someone posts a picture with other people, when just a few days early I hung out with that same someone and no update was posted about it.
Was I not good enough?
Realize, of course, that I do the same thing. I spend the day with someone and not even think about getting a picture taken, but other times I do. We know that people just don’t think about it sometimes. And we know that our friends only share a selected amount of information on their accounts.
We also know social media isn’t the best for us as much as we use it. And social media is not the cause of our struggles with comparison; it’s just an elevating platform. But it’s here for the long haul and we might as well adapt to it. Or learn to live outside it.
But with all of the good, bad, and unfortunate, we have not given ourselves permission to put our heads down. We think we have to consume, consume, consume, but reality does not dictate we be slaves to our phones and the apps on them. We don’t have to keep up and compare our callings to other people.
Stay in your lane
When you think of the phrase “stay in your lane,” what comes to mind? I think of a car driving down the highway. Sometimes, if we’re exiting the highway, getting out from behind a slower car, or avoiding something on the shoulder, switching lanes is necessary. Merging into other lanes just because is unnecessary and annoying. And if we’re spending our entire time looking at the cars beside us instead of focusing on the road ahead of us, what happens? We crash. And we usually crash into another car and damage it, not just hurting us or our own vehicle.
Life is the same way. Not only does spending all our time looking around us prevent our own progress, but it’s also to the detriment of the people around us. We pull our friends down when we whine, complain, or refuse to lift up their successes or mourn their loss, however small it is.
Using what we’ve been given
God has gifted us with specific strengths, but also a life story and a community to which we can impact. And until it’s clear where we’re to go next, that community is often right in front of us—waiting for us. Why would he call us to something else, something bigger, when we can’t steward what we already have? I used to think that if I were a missionary to another country I would be much better at evangelizing. But people always said that if I thought I was supposed to be a missionary somewhere else, I should start sharing the Gospel right where I lived. Talking to the people I already knew? That idea was terrifying, and I didn’t think I needed to do that to be a good missionary. I thought I would just start evangelizing to people when I got somewhere new and exotic.
And while the excitement would push me out of my comfort zone for a short period of time, eventually wherever I was as a missionary would just become the place where I lived. And I wouldn’t be very effective in the habit of looking for opportunities to love on relationships that I already had established.
I now understand that we have to be faithful with the present day and our present resources before God will give us something bigger. And that goes for missions, businesses, relationships, churches, and influential platforms.
Living our beautiful lives
It would be worth our time to focus on what we have right now, whatever that is—a serving job, a tiny town, a blog with three irregular readers, a friend or a kid—and put our heads down, and do the work we need to do to steward that thing or person well. I don’t believe that at the end of our lives God will ask us “why didn’t you try to build a million dollar business or speak at huge conferences?”
Instead he’ll ask why we didn’t desire the story he gave us over the one he wrote for someone else.
God crafts a beautiful life for all of us, regardless of it stacks up to someone else’s curated highlight reel. If he believes that we’re worthy of his time—enough to send Jesus down to make us worthy—then why do we waste so much of ours looking and running around, trying to create the perfect life with the fun friends and exciting events and just-right job, gym, church, whatever—when he has something for us to love and build? It may not be attractive at first glance, but it will be worth the investment.
He made me to be Kim Jansen
He didn’t make another Amanda, Heather, Jacqui, or Kelli. He’s already created them and given them their own relationships, talents, quirks, weaknesses and tragedies that will speak to others. I’m wasting my time if I spend it trying to be them or just whining that I’m not them. That’s not giving God any glory. Rather, that energy wastes away and leaves nothing lasting.
The comparison trap is the enemy’s goldmine. Not only does it hinder our ability to do anything, but we attack others (even if it’s only in our own mind). We don’t celebrate with each other nor do we accomplish anything of our own. When we see what someone else has, we shrug off our our own blessings and run after theirs. This disregards the unique gifts God provides us and wants us to use.
That’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to leave any gifts untapped, or any relationships left wanting. I want to be Kim to the fullest. That’s who he made me to be, anyway. And he’s done that for all of us. We’re not doing the world any favors by wishing we were someone else. But we’ll give it something amazing if we’re faithful with what we have.
Can we fight comparison by trying to stay in our lanes?
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