Thanks to social media the comparison game is strong. With a click of a follow button, scroll of a thumb, and a double-tap on our cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s sister’s friend we unknowingly spiral into the whirlpool of comparison. It starts out innocent enough and we might even mask it with the thought that “really it’s just inspirational.” You genuinely might glean inspiration and motivation from viewing other people’s lives, and that’s admirable self control but that definitely wasn’t the case for me. A follow of an adventurer here, a search for #yogaflow there, and before I knew it these “inspirational” resources quickly turned me bitter toward many aspects of life. Recently God told me “no” in many aspects of life that didn’t make sense to me (I just wanted a teaching job in Arkansas, not some crazy self-employed and living out of a suitcase as I travel without any deadlines kind of dream), and I envied others who had what I wanted. From there when I heard people who had what I want complain about their situation something grew in me that was beyond bitter. It was dangerous and blinded me. I found myself with an intense feeling of entitlement because if I had what that person had, well by golly, I would appreciate it more than them! They don’t know how lucky they are in life and they sure don’t deserve it. I could take many avenues with this, but I’m going to key right in on comparison and how quickly it strangles.
First of all we’ve all heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy.” I get that, for sure, but I need something a little more concrete than that because for me personally joy is not antonymous to comparison. That brought me to the thought process of understanding the opposite of comparison.
Contentment…? Not quite. Happiness….? Nope. Acceptance…? No.
I purposed myself to look at it from a different perspective of what I was NOT purposing myself to do each day that was allowing this to grow in me so violently. Over the course of a couple of days (and probably a few “inspirational” Insta captions on the topic) and I realized that I was lacking a very important mindset, not just as a human but as a Follower of Christ, and that was gratefulness. Once this realization occurred I locked in on it and layers began to peel back on how ungrateful I was for the too-good-to-be-true life that God has given me! Life will always, always, always have ups and downs, but when I stop being a brat and look past my own unfulfilled desires, the life I live is pretty sweet in it’s own way and there is something to be grateful for and to give thanks to God for in it.
Anyone can be grateful, but how much more meaningful is it to Believers as we have full assurance of Who is the Provider that deserves our thankfulness? Truly, there is SOMETHING to be grateful everyday. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s just a job, maybe it’s the fact that you got to shower in the first in time who knows how long, maybe its thankfulness of a spouse, parent, or sibling. Life doesn’t have to be “going GREAT!” for us to find something to be thankful about, in fact gratefulness is a discipline that must be developed; one that we must purpose ourselves to follow through on a daily basis in whatever way that looks like for each of us. When we have moments of gratefulness how awesome is it that we know Who to thank for it and can rest in the comfort that none of it happened by chance?
While writing this post I have thought of many more points that could be made, but I think I’m going to tie it all up with a list I wrote down to compare the effects of “comparison” and “gratitude.” Yes, it is ironic.
Comparison breeds: boasting, discontentment, ungratefulness, selfishness, put downs, unappreciation (roll with it), negative self-image, inadequacy, a sense of failure, entitlement, a dismissive regard to God’s creativity, exhaustion, bitterness, strife, manipulation, narrow mindedness…
Gratefulness breeds: contentment, appreciation for other’s, the ability and desire to celebrate others/empathy, energy, focus, satisfaction and fulfillment, assurance (what we currently have is what is God’s best for us right now), humility, encouragement, heavenly perspective, acceptance, the ability to live in the moment, courage, freedom, intentionality, consideration, grace.
Choose to be grateful, y’all.