“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I’m going to be honest here for a second. This week has been a little bit rough for me. But, let’s start at the beginning. I started off with deleting the facebook app from my phone just to keep my sanity. Aside from avoiding the never-ending barrage of negativity (news, politics, commentaries…), I just couldn’t deal with looking at people’s lives anymore. Not that I don’t want to keep up on important life events, but I found that I was subconsciously comparing my life to things that were happening in other people’s lives. And, I just couldn’t do it anymore. There are people out there that would tell you I’m ahead of the curve with being in grad school to get my doctorate and working on publishing my book, but think again. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like looking at what’s happening in other peoples’ lives to make me feel behind in life. Or, to make me feel inadequate. And, dare I say it, those feelings of inadequacy can morph into feelings of jealousy and/or depression.
Don’t lie. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
On a somber—but related—note, TCU’s class of 2015 lost an incredible man of God on Tuesday. I may not have been best friends with him, but it still hit me like a blow to the chest. Most everyone in the class knew him. I knew about his struggle with cancer and even reached out at one point to express solidarity in losing health so suddenly. Then, a horrible thought came to my brain. This guy was amazing in trusting God through his struggle. He didn’t make a fuss out of his illness. I’m sure he had his moments in private, but he always pointed toward positivity. Of course, we all gravitate towards someone like that.
But I thought, why am I even writing a book? What’s the point? He was so brave and quiet about his situation, always turning the subject away from himself. You have to admire that about someone, you know? So I thought to myself, wow, you’re writing a book about your illnesses, Morgan. That’s really selfish of you. Why don’t you go through your stuff in silence? Why do you always have to tell your story? Why aren’t you more like him?
Why don’t I look like her?
Why am I not even dating someone?
I don’t have enough nursing experience to be in grad school.
Why aren’t you working full time, going to school full time, and living in your own apartment?
Why didn’t my blog take off like all the other blogs out there?
Why aren’t you traveling the world like all of these other people?
Why, why, why. All these “why” questions. You have them too, I know you do. I was really upset about me writing a book for a little while, and it still kind of gets to me, so I talked to my mom about it (who else? lol!). She said, in so many words, that my experiences are completely different from this person or the next, and that God gives us all different gifts, desires, and purposes in life. It all leads to God’s glory, of course, but we don’t all go about that the same way. And, that made me feel so much better.
This was my lesson this week: Don’t compare your journey with somebody else’s journey.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.”
-2 Corinthians 10:12-14
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10
So maybe I’m not so good at getting out there and meeting new people. So maybe I don’t have 20 years of nursing experience behind me before applying to grad school. So maybe my desire to travel to new places isn’t as prominent as someone else’s. So maybe I can’t work full time while I’m doing school full time if I want to stay healthy. So maybe I’m doing this blog purely in the hope to reach maybe only one person and tell them about Jesus.
However, there’s no reason for your journey to feel inferior to someone else’s. God has given me different gifts than he has given you. So, maybe this book will open doors to meet new people. So, maybe God has given me a passion for the medical field and I know exactly where and how I can make a difference (why delay?). So, maybe a blog post will hit someone where it needs to right when it needs to. So, I am writing a book to talk about my struggle with chronic illness. But, I’m opening the door to my vulnerability in order to reach people who need hope more than anything, but can’t seem to find it. I’m telling the story of my weaknesses so I can illuminate how God saved me.
Are you comparing your life with the life of those around you? Are you feeling behind? Take heart in the fact that the comparison of your journey with someone else’s doesn’t mean a thing about the plans God has for you. Try to look at it in a different way. Instead of looking at where your life doesn’t match up to another person’s, or it doesn’t match up to where you think you should be, ask God what He wants from you in this specific life season. Use the encouragement of mentors and church families to make you better in the areas where you struggle. You have gifts and a journey that is unique to you. After all, some people probably think I have it all together. And, let me tell you, that’s just not true. I struggle with comparison and feelings of inadequacy just as much as the next person. But, I really like writing, I am really passionate about bringing awareness to chronic illness, and I am combining the two in order to tell people what God has done in my life. And, there’s no shame in that.
There’s a huge amount of sadness in losing a young man of God to something awful like cancer. But, from what I’ve seen on social media (before I deleted the app on my phone), there’s a beauty in people remembering how he stood for Jesus. And, isn’t that the point after all? No matter what our journeys look like, the ultimate goal is to point to Jesus.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
-1 Corinthians 12:4-6