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The Perils of Comparing

I saw this sign one day and knew ONLY the person in the right lane was supposed to or legally allowed to turn right. While the left lane travelers had to remain traveling straight. Obvious right? Yet, how many times do we see someone in another lane (who appear to have things better) and we move to that lane to take the same turn? When in actuality the lane you were traveling was meant to stay straight.

Welcome to comparison.

When you look at other's lives, skills, accomplishments, and outward appearances and find yourself comparing, you have entered into a toxic and dangerous zone. One perilous outcome of comparison is looking at someone else's life, ministry, skills, looks, job or whatever and make decisions based on where you see them.

I remember seasons when those around me appeared to be succeeding or advancing, while I felt behind where they were and even stuck. This comparative decision making caused me many times to take matters into my own hands and not wait on what God had specifically for me.

A classic example was in my 20's after I graduated college and all my friends began getting married and then even having children. I took a few years off school after college, moved to Washington D.C. and then came back to Chicago. I started law school while working full time as a juvenile probation officer and managed to also stay active in ministry. Needless to say, there was no time for dating. It was God's plan for those around me to take that turn into marriage during my 20's, but the lane God had for me was to be in the lane going straight.

It was difficult and often lonely when I compared my life to others. However, in hindsight, now that I am in my 40's and married with three beautiful children, I can't imagine what my life would be had I tried to force my way into the lane turning into marriage when I was supposed to remain in the straight lane. The turn would've been premature and God's GPS for my life would've had to re-route to get me back on course. Delays and possibly becoming lost would have been inevitable. That lane wasn't for me at that particular time.

If you're a people pleaser and care deeply about what others think, you'll probably have a heightened vulnerability and tendency to compare. I know this all too well. Whenever I have an identified weakness, I always ask God: "what is the root?" God wants to completely uproot whatever the core is of your weakness and not merely prune symptoms. I believe two of the main roots of comparison are spirits of jealousy (covetousness) and competition. You look at others, compare, and want what they have.

Let me encourage you today to stay in the lane God has for you and stop comparing yourself to others who may be turning sooner than you. The road He has paved for you is so specific and unique. Your road will look different than others in your life. When you compare yourself to their journey and path, you are in essence taking your eyes off God and placing them on man made expectations and outcomes. You are telling God you are not satisfied with what He has for you when you compare and want what others have. If you're not careful you will covet what you are comparing and get off course.

Stay focused on the lane God has for you and be comfortable in your own skin. You are a unique masterpiece with a special purpose and destiny. You are not "less than" or "more than" the person or ministry you are comparing yourself to. "Less than," "more than," and "equal to" are the wrong equations when speaking about God's design for individuals. You are "unique to" the specific purpose God has for you.

I remember seeing this "more than" concept manifest in ministry when someone I worked with in ministry found out another ministry received a grant and we didn't. This person knew what we were doing and what they were doing and made a comment, questioning why they always got funding and we didn't. This wasn't just covetous of what another ministry received, but honestly was also arrogant. Did this person think we were better than the ministry who received the funding and we deserved it just as much, if not more, than they did? Instead of comparing, let's celebrate when others are blessed and not question why God opened the door for them and kept it shut for us. Ultimately, this comes down to a heart issue and maybe that's the reason they got it and we didn't....because God was trying to check and humble our heart. Hmmmmm.

Comparison is a trick of the enemy. Fight the urge to listen to any voice that will lead you in the wrong lane. Compare yourself with what God says about you and the lane you are called to journey on will bring you to His perfect will. Follow your street sign's lane instruction and celebrate others following their lane instructions.

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