There comes a certain point in time where children discover the concept of 'fair' - no one has to teach them about it, it's just innate! In our household it first manifested in relation to portion sizes - crackers, raisins, EVERYTHING had to be counted to ensure that they all had the same amount because otherwise it just wasn't 'fair.' As they've grown their notions of fairness have become more complex, but even now one of the most commonly heard phrases is, "why is her piece bigger than mine?" or "why did she get more?"
Whether it's facebook highlight reels, who has the tidiest house (you know we all stash the mess in the master bedroom when guests are coming!) or something much more significant, something that in our hearts and minds measures success, the temptation to compare creeps up on the best of us. But in my experience comparison tends to be a sure-fire way to invite self-doubt, disappointment, discouragement, perhaps even shame in. It distracts us and can rob us of the joy of what God is outworking in our lives, making us think that if we could just have what someone else is having, everything would be alright and we would be content.
But that's a lie. Because here's the thing I've always tried to teach our kids - fair does not always mean the same. Sometimes as adults we need that reminder - our lives, our paths do not have to look the same and different does not mean that one is better than the other, simply that they are just that - different. We were not created to live cookie-cutter lives and one size never fits all. We are fearfully, wonderfully and uniquely made and God knows exactly what He is fashioning in each of our lives.
In John 21, after Jesus has restored Peter who denied Him, He lays out the price of following Him, revealing the way that Peter would one day die. As Peter processes this information he turns and sees that John is following them and he says to Jesus, "well what about him?" Can you hear the inherent question - will it be the same for him? Jesus' response is this:
“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Jesus is telling Peter that what He wants to do in John's life is not what Peter should be concerned about; that he needs to have predetermined that he trusts and is willing to follow the path that Jesus has marked out for him.
This is the critical juncture that we will all reach at some point in our journey - the moment when somebody else has what we desperately want but don't have; the season when life seems to be a bed of roses for everyone else and we seem to be stuck with all the thorns and we have to choose our response. We have to choose whether we really trust God - who He is and His heart towards us.
I love David's words in Psalm 21:
For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.
As you study the many psalms that David wrote, you see that no matter what he faced he believed that God loved him and that that love was relentless. Knowing that God's love would never let him down brought stability to his life and it can do the same for us.
When comparing our lives to those around us leaves us feeling like we come up short we need to change the object of our attention. We need to realise like Peter did, like David did, that no matter how many times we fail, no matter how long we have to wait, that He loves us and that we can trust what He is forming in our lives. We need to determine that even if it feels like others get a bigger piece of cake (or maybe one with more icing!) that we trust Him enough to follow where He leads us.
Live today with purpose,
P.S. Make sure you follow along on facebook this week - I'll be sharing some of the practical ways I've learnt to break the power of comparison in my own life.
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
If you want to get blog posts direct to your inbox pop here.