Comparison is the Thief of Joy

IMG_1506

I have a habit of comparing myself. Doesn’t everyone? Social media definitely fans this flame for the general population, I’d bet. Whether it has to do with beauty, careers, houses, travel, family, friends or just life circumstances; we all constantly compare ourselves to her, to him, or to them. 

Something I, and most women, tend to put a lot of hope and trust in is beauty. And what a crazy thing to hope in? It’s something that is so fleeting; yet, as young girls growing up in this world, we are fed constant lies from advertisements, music, and movies saying that a women has to be beautiful. Because if we’re not beautiful, we won’t ever get a date or mount up to anything in life, right? 

What a complete lie.

There will always be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, more successful, with a better-paying job, nicer home, or more put-together family. And even if we are beautiful or make lots of money, we will always find something we don’t like about ourselves or always want that “next thing.” And why is it that some of the most beautiful people are the most insecure? Or some of the people who travel often are the most discontent? Or the richest people are often the most unhappy? It’s proof that the grass is not always greener. 

The purpose of our lives is to love God and give Him glory. And we can’t give God glory if we’re constantly focused on what other people are doing or completely consumed with our own cares and worries. That’s what comparison does, it gets us to shallowly focus too much on ourselves and our desires. Beth Moore has said, “If Satan can’t get you to worship him; he will get you to worship yourself.” 

We see in John 21:20-22 that even the apostle Peter, whom Jesus referred to as the “rock” on which the church would be built upon, compared himself with the others.

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

Peter is literally walking alongside Jesus in the flesh, after he just witnessed Jesus be crucified, buried, and raised from the dead; yet, even Peter walking closely with Jesus got distracted and compared himself to others. Jesus sternly reminds Peter not to worry about John’s life plan but to instead follow Him. 

Jesus does not want Peter to get caught up in distractions that will interfere with Jesus’ great plans for Peter’s life. Jesus wants Peter to turn his focus onto his own plan and to follow Him. 

This passage is the last passage in the Gospel of John and the last words of Jesus given in the last of the four Gospel books. I think the biggest issue Christians face in this digital age is getting too distracted by our lives and all the worries and cares that come with it. We focus too much on how perfect our lives are, what’s going not as we planned, or what others are doing. 

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:11-12

So what’s the secret to beating comparison? There are two main things that have helped me learn to be content with my circumstances and not compare myself to others. 

First, it’s by following Jesus and keeping my eyes and heart set on Him. There is no greater love than Jesus dying on the cross for us. Making the most money, traveling to the best places, or being the most successful or beautiful person in the room won’t bring the lasting love and peace that we all crave. Chasing these things and placing them at the center of our lives only leads to disappointment and depression. Not with Jesus, when we place Him rightfully at the center of our lives, He brings peace, life, and abundance. 

Second, with Jesus at the center of our lives, we can thereby enjoy our lives more fully without putting all of our hope in it. God has truly given each of us special gifts, talents, and blessings. What will we do with them? Will we be like Peter and turn around looking at what John is doing, wasting our precious time, or will we make the most of the responsibilities and blessings God has graciously given us? There is so much freedom in working towards being our “best self” and giving God glory in our lives without putting our identity and worth in what we accomplish. 

Do not be conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. – Romans 12:2

There will always be tiny moments when we can give in to comparing ourselves, causing us to lose our joy and peace. Will we choose each and every day to refuse to allow the bitterness or envy a dwelling place in our lives? It takes thoughtful prayer, daily reading the Bible, and worship to rewire our minds to follow Jesus daily and give Him glory with our lives to the best of our ability. 

Jesus Wouldn’t Like my Instagram

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I’ve had a lot of time to reminisce this Thanksgiving break, particularly over the past year. A lot has happened and I’m proud that I (actually) accomplished a few of my New Years goals. But sadly, a few important ones that had to do with improving my relationship with Jesus for 2014 were epic fails.

A big one for me this year was to “divorce my phone.” I’m on it all the time. It’s the first thing I look at when I wake up and the last thing I look at before bed. What am I looking at most of the time, you may be wondering?

Instagram.

I love admiring (envying) the beautiful travel photos Travel & Leisure posts. Which reminds me, I need to go to Italy ASAP! I want every article of clothing Negin Mirsalehi wears in every one of her pictures. How is her hair so perfect? I get motivated to hop off the couch and go for a run after Kayla Itsines posts another rocking bod picture.

Let me preface, Instagram or Facebook isn’t bad, but I’ve noticed lately how unhealthy this has become for myself. I become so consumed with me. Why do we have to remind people of ourselves constantly and bring the attention back to us? Sure, it can be used for good or for inspiration. But it is a fine line to cross.

“The most miserable people in the world are those whom worship themselves, because it is an unquenchable thirst.” – Marian Jordan Ellis

In Genesis, it says God created us to be image bearers where we reflect the glory of God. But Satan deceives us and gets us to focus on ourselves. He makes us want to give ourselves the glory and attention when we are called to give God glory in everything we do. Instead of being a reflector of God’s glory, we become receptors; we want the glory. Satan gets us to turn our eyes to our own lives and wants, and we become so obsessed with self.

Satan at first was an angel created to serve God but the Bible says he fell from heaven due to his pride. He wanted to be God instead of serve Him. He wanted the glory for himself. And the idol of self leads to destruction.

We were created to give God glory, not to give ourselves glory. That’s the problem with Instagram, we make it all about ourselves. If Jesus looked at my Instagram, He probably wouldn’t like it. He would probably wonder why I care so much to post pictures of what I’m doing all the time, what am I trying to prove to people? He would probably ask me what is my hidden motive to posting this picture or that picture?

I probably waste hours upon hours looking at pointless things on my phone. Imagine if I took that time to instead listen to a podcast or sermon, read a book, or just do something that can edify me and actually be beneficial to my wellbeing.

So, one of my New Years Resolutions is to break up with my phone. I’m not boycotting Instagram; you will still see posts from me. I just want to do some things differently, like not be so obsessed with this screen in my hands. So, below I’ve listed 4 things I want to do differently. These are simple things that I think can help you and me break up with our phones. It’s time we take back the power from our phones, am I right?

1)    Instead of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning, I want to pray. I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning without praying to God first.

2)    Instead of looking at my phone before going to bed every night, I want to read a book or listen to a sermon.

3)    I want to limit time on social media. Maybe even delete the app for a few days here and there, just to give myself a break.

4)    I’m going to start “forgetting my phone” when I head to class, to run a quick errand, or to go on a walk. Walking to class looking around at the beautiful campus is so much more relaxing then looking down at a screen anyway.