The Comparison Game
Comparison is the thief of all joy. Maybe you have heard that saying before, or maybe it is new to you. Wherever you fall on that spectrum know that it is true! It is especially true for those of us in the single world. We compare ourselves in every arena! The moment at practice when we look around and notice that our kids are the few that don’t have their dads out on those fields, the party we don’t get invited to because we are single, the bible study we want to lead but we aren’t married so why would they ask us, and the dreaded social media vortex that we all slide into at night after the kids are in bed! This world has created so many opportunities for the comparison game, but we are not of this world according to the bible in John 17:16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Before I go any further know that I have been there. I was the mom sitting in the chair on the sidelines imagining the glaring spotlight shining down on me while I watched the other dads help and encourage their kids. The what if’s of the dating world. What if I just go find someone to marry again? Marriage is better than being single right? Look at all these happy people around me? What if this is THE one? Then I can be happy like my friends. The internal dialogues that we engage in as single mom’s, “Look at her! She has a great husband, perfect children, and a savings account to take vacations! Why can’t my children be the star athletes…oh wait, because their dad isn’t involved. Why don’t my children make better grades? Why can’t I seem to get my kids to multiple activities and be in 5 different places at once? I wish I could be the homeroom mom, make pinterest goody bags, and look like that!” You get my drift, I could go on and on, because that is what our minds do! We compare our children, our stories, our bank accounts, our families, our houses, and even our faith journeys! Sheer insanity! God never created us to look at each other and compare where we are walking and how we are doing it. He created us to be part of something. Being a part of something means that we are uniquely individual and uniquely needed just the way He created us to be in the exact circumstances that we find ourselves in.
Romans 12:4-8 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12 talks about our gifts and most of us know we are uniquely gifted. Let’s talk a minute about our circumstances. Those are unique too. He knew what those circumstances would be long before we did. He entrusted these children to us in spite of those circumstances. That means that He trusts us with our circumstances to keep our eyes on Him and to keep moving forward. Not wobble from side to side because we can’t keep our eyes looking ahead.
I remember when I was teaching Jack to ride his bike without training wheels. By the grace of God alone we both survived! You see, Jack, is definitely my child. Strong-willed and a total control freak. When we started, he gave me very direct instructions, “Mom, don’t let go of the back of this bike until I tell you!” You can imagine that after 30 minutes of bending over the back of a 12-inch bike I was ready to let go long before he was, so I did. It wasn’t pretty. He went straight down to the cement. After much consoling and coaxing I got him back up on that bike, but now he was not as trusting. He couldn’t keep his eyes on the road ahead of him. He was too busy looking back or even sideways to see if I was holding on. Needless to say it took much longer to get to the end result because we were both frustrated, upset, and both needing to be in control of the other’s actions. We took a break that day and luckily Will stepped in as he so often does. I overheard them that night talking and Will reassured him that there was no way I(Mom) would do anything to intentionally harm him(Jack). That Jack just needed to keep his eyes on the road and trust that I would be there to make sure it was ok and that he wouldn’t get hurt. Of course, because it came from Will and not me, Jack was much more receptive. We tried again the next day and I would love to say it happened just like that, but remember that strong will and control freak piece of Jack? It took about a week, but slowly he began to trust me, and slowly he stopped focusing on what I was doing and starting keeping his eyes straight ahead on the road in front of him. As soon as he got the hang of it there was no stopping him. He rode around in the cul-de-sac for hours and pleaded with us to ride bikes EVERYWHERE! He finally had the freedom to go where he wanted to, within reason, and to be a little more mature. All it took was a little trust and conviction to keep his eyes on what was ahead of him and not behind him or beside him.
I don't know what knocked you off of your bike or how that cement scratched you up, but I know God wants you to get back up and try again. Our women’s pastors, Corlischa and Crista, like to encourage us to run in our lane, or in this example pedal in our lane. We each have one, specially designated by God for our unique gifts and purposes. You were placed in these circumstances and in this time for a special reason. You have to figure out what those gifts are and what the purpose is, but once you do you will soar. If we continue to look sideways at our neighbors or girlfriends our bikes start to wobble and tumble. He calls us to keep our eyes on Him and keep pushing forward. Am I saying that the circumstances aren’t hard? Absolutely not! It is hard and it is tough, and some days are worse than others. In those days, take a break and sit with Him for a while until you have enough strength to get up on that bike and try again. You have to trust that on those days He is hanging on to the back of your bike until you are ready to pedal on your own. Bike riding for Jack wasn’t accomplished in a day. It was accomplished by trusting that I would let go when I knew he was ready and if he fell I would be there to catch him. He kept trying and kept moving forward. That is all our Father is asking of us. Every day look up and trust that He is right in front of you beckoning you forward and cheering you on, and on the days He needs to hold on and steady you, He will be there. Comparison is the thief of all joy, but unity with Him and with each other is the pathway to paradise.
So let’s commit today to stop comparing. It is going to take an active thought life. Every time those thoughts creep into your head, take them captive. Realize that they are not from Him.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Let’s commit today to build each other up and to pedal in our own lane without looking sideways or backwards. Let’s trust that Jesus is right in front of us beckoning and cheering us on. Let’s be kind and gentle to ourselves when we start to glance sideways and remind ourselves and each other that this race was not won in a day, a week, a month, or even a year. It is a day by day, minute by minute choice we make to run the race set before each of us until we are reunited with Him. What a great example for our kids, especially in those teenage years. They are watching all that we do and say. They think you are enough right where you are, so trust that you are. Talk to them and let them know that they are enough right where they are. Run well, my friends, and pedal hard after Jesus, because he loves you so and He wants the absolute best life for you!
Hebrews 12:1-3Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.