Comparison“I can't believe you can do that without falling?” He hollered at me as I ran down the mountain past him. Little did this gentleman know just how many times I have fallen on this exact mountain.

In fact, just a few weeks ago I fell so badly, that I had to wait on a rock until someone came along to help me up. But at this moment in time, this gentleman and his wife saw me running, upright, in the groove and chugging along.

Isn't that how life is?

We see someone else succeeding at life, at parenting, at marriage and we think to ourselves, “If only I could be as successful as they are.”Just because you don't see them stumbling right then doesn't mean they don't fall. In fact, we know from Scripture that none of us are perfect.

Here's the deal, for years I struggled in my mind comparing my own mess to everyone else's perfect social media life. And it left me devastated. I thought I was the only one struggling in my marriage. I thought I was the only one struggling as a parent. I thought I was the only mom struggling with mom guilt as I tried to balance running a business with being a mom of two babies.

Unfortunately, when you compare yourself to others one of two things happens…pride or pity. You either feel prideful about where you are in life. Or you pity yourself.

Let's revisit the story at the beginning of this article for illustration…

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1. Comparison leads to pride.

A few week's ago I was running this same mountain, and another runner was running behind me. This runner was a guy, and he was running faster than I was. So out of courtesy, as he got closer, I paused, stepped to the side and let him pass me. He ran past me, and I jumped back on the trail and began running again.

About a hundred yards later, he stopped running,  and began walking. Now this is awkward because now I am going to pass him. So I politely step around him and continue running…this is where the trouble begins.

In my mind, I begin thinking, “How embarrassing for him…a girl just passed him!” Then, I continue to let the pride take control of my thoughts. I begin running a little faster comparing myself to this runner. I mentally let myself go there…

“Wow, I bet he is embarrassed. I bet he feels super silly that I let him go by me and then he had to let me by him!”

As I'm going on and on in my head, a hiker coming from the other direction shouts “I can't believe you are running!”as I run past her. I holler at her, “I didn't always run!” and I continued on my merry way. All the while my head it getting bigger.

So there I am running, continuing to tell myself how great I am and continuing to fixate on how embarrassed the guy must be. So I round the corner, and as I do, I look over my shoulder wondering how far ahead I am of said runner. I can't even see him! This only pours more prideful fuel on my fire…and the conversation in my head continues.

Until, I misstep on a rock and sprain my ankle.

I catch myself before I fall completely to the ground, and thankfully there is a boulder along the trail that I can sit on. I was in so much pain. I sat there for a minute scared to get up wondering if I could even put pressure on the ankle.  As I sat there in my pain, who comes around the bend, but you guessed it…the mystery runner. He is nice enough to help me up and then trots off down the rest of the mountain.

I hobble down the mountain in pain trying to run and pretending I'm not hurt…but knowing full well my ankle and my pride have both been damaged.

This was three weeks ago.

This is the story, the guy didn't know who said to me today, “I can't believe you can do that without falling!”

He didn't know that my pride literally came before my fall.

His observation of one moment in time did not tell the whole story of my running abilities, and left him thinking I was much more capable than is actually the case.

2. Comparison leads to self-pity.

On the other hand, over Christmas I ran this same mountain with my brother and sister-in-law who are amazing athletes. They don't live near mountains, so running mountains isn't something they regularly do. But running in general is definitely a strength of theirs. {They met running track in college.}

Over Christmas when they were visiting Phoenix, I decided to take them running. I started out in the lead. Then I told them to go ahead, but I stay close behind. The distance between me and them continues to grow until I say {in between gasping for air}, “I'll meet them at the bottom.” On this particular day, I was comparing myself to these two amazing runners and intense athletes. Guess what the voices were saying to me on that day?

“You've never been as good as they are. You aren't a runner. I can't believe you thought you could do this. You run this all the time and they have never run this mountain, and you can't even see them ahead of you…geez, you're bad at this.”

But then the conversation takes an even bigger turn for the worse, as I mentally begin to attack my own character.

“If I had more self-discipline, I would be faster. If I had more will power I would weigh less. If I was skinnier, I would be more valuable…”

And on and on the voices went, until I told them to stop.

I got to the top of the mountain, and said, “Enough is enough.” I turned up the music on my phone and began listening to the truth, and finished the run running my race rather than concerning myself with where everyone else was on their journey.

Pride or pity.

Either way comparison leads us down a road we that doesn't honor God, ourselves, our family or the body of Christ.

This week I'd love to encourage you to take time to become more aware of the comparison going on in your own heart and mind. As always, as we become aware of our inner dialog, we can surrender the lies to Jesus, and replace the lies with the truth found in the Word of God!


If comparison is something that you struggle with {like I do}, I invite you to check out my four devotional, Loving? My Life. The first week of this devotional is completely centered on the issue of comparison. We jump in deep with Scripture and learning how to take our eyes off of everyone else's race and focus them on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  You can check it out here: Loving? My Life.

 

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