I know I do. I compare myself to everyone and anyone.
She has much better fashion sense than I do.
Her marriage seems so effortless and loving all the time.
She has wonderful children.
Her home is always so clean.
Yesterday was just another reminder of my comparison problem. My sister-in-law and her husband just built a gorgeous new home, on ten acres of beautiful property. We went to see the new house yesterday, and instead of being happy for her like I should have, the voice of "You're-Not-Good-Enough" was speaking too loudly in my ear for me to even enjoy her company.
Why don't I have a home of my own? Why can't I have "nice" things? Why don't we have sweet babies yet? Why doesn't my path look like that?
You know what Jesus says about that?
In John 21, the resurrected Jesus has just revealed Himself to Peter and the other disciples. He and Peter have a good heart-to-heart about the whole denying three times before the rooster crows thing. Jesus goes on to tell Peter,
"'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.' (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, 'Follow me.'" (John 21:18 and 19, ESV)Jesus has given Peter the awesome task of being the founder of the Church, of "feeding his sheep" and "tending his lambs," even to the horrible and painful martyrdom that will end Peter's time on earth.
And how does Peter respond?
"Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them...When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, 'Lord, what about this man?' (John 21:20-21, ESV)Oh, Peter. You are just like me.
Jesus has just given Peter a tremendous path in life, and Peter asks, "What about him?"
We don't know what was going on in Peter's head, but my hunch is that he was saying to himself a lot of the things I say to myself.
His life seems... better.
And isn't that what's at the core of all of our comparisons? Her life seems... better. Easier. Cleaner. More godly. More polished. Calmer. More exciting. More blessed. Better.
How does Jesus reply to our (well, Peter's) question?
"Jesus said to him, 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!'" (John 21:22, ESV, emphasis my own)."What's it to you? Worry about your own path! Focus on Me!"
What does it matter if my sister-in-law has a great new house?
So what if she's lost fifty pounds and looks great?
Who cares if my neighbor does the cutest projects with her kids?
What does it matter to me if that woman in church can totally pull off the dress that would make me look like a frump?
(All those things aren't necessarily bad- good for them! But...) That's not what I should be focusing on.
We know what our focus should be- Following Jesus. Plain and simple. Instead of worrying about how my life compares to the lives of those around me, I need to follow Jesus. The path he's given me may look a lot different than the path he's given other people, and that's okay.
When I put my focus where it's supposed to be- on Christ alone- there is no more comparison problem. I just gotta worry about myself- Following Jesus, no matter where that path may lead.