In elementary school I learned that not everyone is the same. I recognized that Emily can spell B-E-C-A-U-S-E and Ben can kick a soccer ball so hard it leaves a welt. Immediately after I made these distinctions, phrases like “better than me” or “worse than me” found their way into my vocabulary. These comparative phrases began to shape how I viewed myself. It was not the differences I saw that were the problem, but rather my insufficiencies in light of others’ strengths.
As I grew older, I started comparing myself to others in more serious ways. I told myself that so-and-so is a better writer, a more faithful Christian, or a better friend than me. I desperately tried to fill the void left by these claims by telling myself that I was a better communicator, better teacher, or a more effective leader than so-and-so. My life became a scale weighing anything that I couldn’t do the best, to things that I could do well. I was consumed with balancing the scale and proving to myself that I was significant. This obsession guided my joys, my sorrows, and my failures for years.
In truth, comparison is selfish. When I compare other people to, I act like I am the only important person. I forget that everyone around me makes mistakes, is insecure and needs to be loved just as much as I do. When I rely on comparison to make me feel significant I have to be the best theologian, the best athlete, the best friend, daughter, sister, and student. The sad fact is that I’m not the best at much and I can never be the best at everything. When I didn’t measure up to an imaginary standard, it seemed like I was a failure. I lived with a constant understanding of my own inadequacies. I was so aware of how I fell short that it crippled me. I tried to be successful to counterbalance feeling of insignificance but it never felt like enough.
Living this way was empty and it left me broken. On my own, I could not silence my tendency to compare. I believe that comparison isolates people and hurts relationships. I believe that a lifestyle of selfish comparison can only be reconciled by the love of Jesus Christ. He saw my insufficiencies and loved me anyway. It is His love that gives me confidence to set aside the fabricated scales on which I weigh my actions and to live with others in mind. He made me, knows everything about me, and He wont stop loving me. I still struggle with my tendency to compare but I can rest knowing that I am eternally and unconditionally loved.