Something that keeps cropping up in my mind lately and eating away at me a lot recently is my ability to compare myself to everyone around me. I know I’m not the only person who does this. I mean, what other way does one have to figure out what their status is in life? You must compare yourself to others.
Alas, it’s a fairly destructive habit that I’ve been repeating a lot lately. I was dwelling on it for a particularly long period last Saturday night. It always seems to come to my attention most just after I’m feeling sort of content or even pleased with myself. My nanny job had ended on the 15th, and I had already received and accepted another job offer on the 20th. I had just completed my first day of work the day before and was thinking I’d like my new job. But then stupid stupid doubt crept in, followed by his friend, discontentment. I was on Facebook, scrolling through the newsfeed, clicking on random people, looking at where they were now or what they did for a living. I began to compare myself to them:
“Well, look at her! She’s already married?!”
“A job at Fruit of the Loom? Wow. Pretty impressive.”
“No fair! I want to live in the UK.”
…and on and on. I kept thinking about my friend’s lives and what they’d accomplished and mostly about what they were planning on doing career-wise while I just felt like a big disappointment–mainly to myself. I don’t mean this to sound like I think I’m better than anyone else, but for half my life, I’ve grown up being told by teachers and others that I’m “so smart” and that I “have a knack” for this and that. Math. Science. Writing. Arts. Other kids didn’t work as hard as me. They didn’t “apply” themselves or whatever that means, and they didn’t make the grades I did. I was the one of the kids who had to help explain things to them. But here those same kids are and they have families, careers, and lives of their own. And here I am, and I have a life. I have friends. I have a job that I like, but it’s not the highest on the totem pole. I genuinely do enjoy the life that I have, but then sometimes I feel like I could be doing more. I could handle more.
I went to bed sulking.
The next morning, I went to church. And what did PC (Pastor Chris) preach about on Sunday? “5 Easy Steps to Wreck Your Life–Part 4: How to Become Dissatisfied.” And I kid you not, the first couple of words out of his mouth had to do with us comparing ourselves to other people. I knew God was speaking directly to me. That’s just the state I am in right now. Oh how I just want to be like Paul! A man who had everything and considered losing it all nothing but a gain compared to knowing Jesus. He was shipwrecked and imprisoned, but was still content with his life.
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation.” Phil. 4:12
And how ungrateful can I be at times? Intolerable, I imagine. “God, why don’t I have this?” “God, why won’t you let me have that?” “God, why does so and so have it so much better that I do?” PC said, “Don’t resent God’s goodness in other’s lives”. I need to learn that.
PC helped bring it into perspective for me. He said that the real standard of comparison is yourself to God. In that light, we deserve absolutely nothing but eternal punishment. Even so, God still chooses to bless us all in different ways. The more I think about my imperfections (and that in itself is hard for a perfectionist like me to do), I get so discouraged because I know I have so far to go in becoming like Christ. I’m so far out in left field. But for some reason, God has called each one of us according to His purpose, and somehow, we can be content in Him.
I also know that personally, my mind works overtime analyzing everything and everyone, including myself. But like Paul said, we must learn to be content. Contentment can be learned. I must remind myself when I try to compare myself to others that those aren’t the comparisons I should be making. I know that I need to accept my life at the moment. I must be content. God is good, and everything in His plans will come about in His time.