The corrosive effect of comparing ourselves to others
Comparison can be surprisingly harmful.
God wants us to be ourselves. It is actually far outside of His will to start comparing ourselves to others.
I don’t know about you, but I have a bad habit of comparing myself to other people. I say other people; it’s usually just one person at a time. The person may vary, but it’s often someone I know well and I’ve usually spotted something about them that I envy or look up to, and wish I was like. The thought starts pretty small, but gradually develops.
And then folks, it’s game-show time.
“Realizing How Much You Suck”
“Welcome to tonight’s episode of ‘Realizing How Much You Suck’, where you get to compare yourself with ridiculously amazing people you’ll never be like! Your host for the evening, Mr D. Pressing, will show you exactly how tonight’s Amazing Person is funnier, more charming, more spiritual, more hard-working and generally more amazing than your rather pathetic self. Hours of despairing analysis and crushing self-critique, all based on ‘facts’ that are totally reliable and not invented at all, as well as the bedrock of undeniable truth: your feelings.”
Ok, so that was a slightly ridiculous metaphor, but it’s surprisingly close to the truth. I have wasted hours, days of my life comparing myself to someone else and wishing I was like them. I have stressed myself out, gotten really angry, cried like a baby. I’ve gone to people I trust for “serious chats,” tried to change my way of living, tried to change my personality to fit the image of someone else. I have been on awesome trips with my best friends, only to find myself feeling not good enough and insecure.
Comparing ourselves to others can be really serious if we let it get a hold on us.
Deny the accuser
But there is only one place these thoughts come from: The accuser, Satan. He seeks to undermine us and make us feel useless and condemned, distracting us from the work God actually wants to do in us. If he cannot get us to accuse our friends in the same, he will try to get us to accuse ourselves! Kåre Smith, the leader of Brunstad Christian Church, said once that, “If there is unrest, uncertainty and insecurity, it is a sure sign that the accuser is at work. People who submit to the spirit of accusation doubt everything. Nothing I know of can make a person as totally hollow and empty as the spirit of accusation. That is why we must be on guard – as you would be for the fires of hell – from allowing any of this spirit into our hearts.”
But we don’t have to listen to the accuser anymore – what a relief! God has planned our entire lives, down to every second, and wants everything to go well for us. He has plans of a future and a hope for us, (Jeremiah 29:11) specifically with the personality and life that each of us has – not anyone else’s! If we are faithful to Him then He will look after us.
God made us like this. Every one of us is a person of unique and awesome design. We don’t have to measure up to others – we can get on with using what God has given us. Far from being a problem, we can learn to use our personalities constructively – each one has a contribution to make that no one else can!
“O Lord, You have searched me and know me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off ...
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.