Nothing to Compare

What is there to compare in this life, really? Bodies? Budgets? Belongings? Business? I'm rolling with the B's.

But really. 

Think of all the genetic mixtures of each and every person on this earth. Think of the differing skill sets and minds. Think of the values that differ from one person to the next. Think of the freckles, scars, shapes, and hearts of the bodies that carry each marvelous soul. Think of the unique, God-given capabilities of the people around you.

Now what is there to compare?

Answer: There is nothing to compare. 

Isn't that the beauty in this life? That even in all the similarities and commonalities that we find with those around us, we still have nothing by which to hold one another up to and say "Ugh, I wish I had your _____."

Comparing brings with it conceit, envy, or covetousness. It's ugly and sinful and rears its head with insecurities and self righteousness. And for what? So that every now and then you can find comfort in the fact that you don't have to live the rotten life of your neighbor? Or so that you can look at your life in all its messes and flaws and wish you had the body, skills, and budget of your other neighbor?

Friends, leave room for inspiration instead of envy. For humility and generosity instead of conceit. For confidence and content instead of covetousness. The second nature we have to make split-second comparisons can be broken. It's a lifelong habit many of us have unknowingly contracted. But like so many habits or addictions, we can break it. Not without failures and slip-ups, of course, but by diminishing our susceptibility to its constant stream and crippling effects, we can find freedom.

We can celebrate the joys and triumphs of others, gain satisfaction and gratefulness for the life God has given us, and turn our comparisons into a platform of thankfulness and praise for our lives and the lives of others.

The path God sets before each of us differs immensely from one to the next and leaves no room for comparison. He says it best in a couple of verses:

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 
2 Corinthians 10:12
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 
Romans 12:2

Not only do the materialist things of this earth not matter, but by comparing one another based on the things of this earth, we're making ourselves out to be complete fools.

From those verses, I get a vision in my head of a situation I've witnessed many times over. Working in daycares, I would watch two or three children playing peaceably together, until suddenly, one particular toy became the apple of all their eyes. It didn't matter if there was a toy that was exactly the same nearby... it was the color of that particular one that had them all clambering, yanking, and screaming to have it. As their teacher, I tried to remind them of sharing, and did my best to help them see that the only thing they were fighting about was a color. But it made no difference, because in comparison, nothing matched the draw of that green one.

Eventually, the toy would be taken away all together while they all three whined and cried, and I'd roll my eyes at how ridiculous and silly they were acting. I'm sure you read that and know full well, too, how pithy it looked.

But what do you think we're doing when we see someone's dreamy vacation on Facebook and wish we could have the same? Or when we see someone's make-up or svelte body and begrudgingly look at our imperfections? We may not have the exact same things, like the toy above, but when you take a good look at your life, I bet you can find more blessings than not.

Here's to losing the comparison game and reveling in the freedom of finding joy and inspiration instead of envy and self-pity. Here's to knowing full-well, that God's blessings are plentiful and comparing those blessings only lessens their worth.

And finally, here are some lyrics to an old favorite that suits my meaning perfectly:

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings

(Count Your Blessings by Bing Crosby)