I saw a meme which got me this week. It said “If 2020 were a slide…” and the image was a metal slide with a young boy coming down, but someone had photoshopped a cheese grater onto the flat part of the slide at the bottom. I started to think about how this year has felt like hell on earth to so many people, myself included. Yet, we don’t make it easy on ourselves, do we?
Today a friend and I were chatting around how when things are already hard, often we make them harder. We both started to rattle off areas in which, even though we’ve been socially distancing, we’ve been comparing ourselves to others. Go figure, in a season where you don’t have to see anyone, we still somehow compare our lives with the lives of others. We compare ourselves with; that person who lost all that weight during the lockdown, or that mum whose baby sleeps the whole night through, or the sister who got engaged while you haven’t been on a date, or the guy who found a new job while you’ve been hunting for years. We get caught up in the things that others seem to have done easier than us when we have no idea of their journey. We also don’t consider that we are comparing ourselves to people who are very different, and their scenarios aren’t a carbon copy of ours.
We don’t just compare ourselves with others. No, we also place expectations on other people unfairly by comparing them to others as well. ‘Why isn’t my son getting the grades that boy is?’ ‘Why isn’t my husband spending more time with the kids like that dad does?’ ‘Last years hosts were more formal, why does this year’s host speak like that?’ ‘Most women her shape would wear an outfit different to that.’ I could go on for days! We need to come to a greater acceptance of ourselves and others, and stop falling into the comparison trap. The comparison trap is a horrible virus that infects so many of us. It’s like the cheese grater slide, you don’t notice it’s potential harm until you’re halfway down, and then there’s no stopping it.
The Bible is full of examples, in Genesis, the snake compared humanity with God, and they bought into the lie. They started to think they should be just like God. That was never theirs or our destiny, yet comparison took them there, and all hell broke loose – literally. Imagine not just comparing yourself with your neighbour or colleague, but with the God of creation! In the New Testament, Paul falls victim to other’s expectations when they force comparison on him in 2 Corinthians 10:10. “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Here they are comparing Paul with Apollos. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a book written by Apollos in the Bible. He may have been a great public speaker, but Paul had different gifts, and that’s ok. Just like it’s ok that Apollos didn’t write a book of the Bible. It seems they expected Paul to be perfect at everything?
Jesus didn’t compare himself to others or compare others. He didn’t even meet the expectations or take notice of comparison when the people of His time expected a Saviour of a different kind. They just wouldn’t accept Him. He was a carpenter’s son. He had dinner with “unclean sinners”. He performed miracles on the Sabbath. He had friends who weren’t in the “cool group”. These friends denied knowing Him and betrayed Him. He died a sinners death on the cross. He rose from the grave. But the people wanted a different type of Saviour. If I were Jesus, I would have had an identity crisis and questioned my purpose. But He knew what He was purposed for, and followed that purpose every single day. He also empowered people to be the people He had created them to be, without expecting them to be like any other. The only people he ever rebuked were the religious leaders of the day who placed massive expectations on their people.
These last two weeks have been hard for me. I’ve watched on as the church I dreamed of and planted is potentially going to appoint a fantastic individual into my previous role of Senior Pastor. Immediately I did the stalking thing; I listened to his sermons, I read his posts and allowed the comparison trap to swallow me completely; I began to feel sorry for myself, I threw myself a pity party, I cried, I tried to talk negatively about the process. Then I reached the stage where I needed to snap out of it. I thought to myself, “Aaron, you’re ridiculous. You want this. You want this church to thrive. You want them to find someone great. You want them to flourish, and in turn, you want to flourish. So stop comparing. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop wallowing. And start moving forward without care of the expectations of others, especially not Christians. Just focus on your purpose, focus on who God created you to be. Focus on God, His love and run toward Him. Don’t live for the praise of man. Don’t try to impress people. Don’t try and do. Just try and be. Try and be you.”
So, that’s my encouragement to you if you are struggling with comparison in your journey right now.
Don’t try and do. Try and be. Try and be you!
Have you seen any good quarantine or COVID-19 meme’s? Put them in the comments below.