During the holidays, while there is a focus on giving of gifts to others, quite frequently, if we are not careful, there can be an equal and opposite reaction to have a tendency to focus on all that we do not have. We hear of other families taking fancy trips, when we are at home wishing we were surrounded by the family who are spread out across the globe. Or we have friends who enjoy the company of family and friends when we have lost loved ones near and dear to us. We hear of the fancy gifts others are giving or receiving, while we are trying to make ends meet to keep the heat on. We have a tendency to look at all others have or are doing and can begin to feel like we don’t “measure up.”
Part of the problem with comparison is that you can always find others who have more, do more, and achieve more than you. But on the other hand, you can always find others who have less, do less, and achieve less than you. Either way, you aren’t content with where God has you. And if we want to get honest, there really is no fair comparison because no two people ever truly start off on equal ground: our backgrounds are not the same, our genetic contributors are different, our prior experiences are varied, and even if we have the same family and are raise in the same home, our gifts, talents, dreams, and aspirations are all different.
I have been defeated by the comparison game myself. My holiday cheer was being dampened by severe physical pain after foot surgery that left me in worse shape than I was in prior to surgery. I could throw a pretty good pity party. My husband and I had been out to a holiday event and I was still in a surgical boot because it was the only thing that would fit that foot with any remote degree of comfort.
A couple of evenings later I was scrolling through posts on social media when a particular post caught my attention and paralyzed me for more than a few moments. Even now I can’t tell you what the caption read – that wasn’t what captivated my heart or brought me to my knees in repentance. The photo was of a the soles of a homeless individual’s feet, worn through the bottom of the only socks and shoes he had.
I had been comparing my situation to all those I had seen with beautiful feet even prettier shoes, wishing I had what they had. But now, I was the one feeling grateful. A blinged-out surgical boot was gorgeous and provided much more warmth and comfort, and would I’m sure would have been the envy of the individual in the photo I saw.
Comparison can steal our joy when we compare ourselves to others and don’t enjoy the blessings we have. And in that moment, as my heart broke for the needs of the homeless in our community, comparison stole my joy as I was ashamed of myself for not appreciating all I had been given.
Now as I catch myself comparing myself to those who seemingly have “more” than I do, I recall that there are always many who would be grateful to have what I have. It reminds me to count my blessings.
What are you thankful for today?