My best friend, Alisa, wrote a blog last week that gave voice to the thing God is most recently working out in me. And since God is a God of relationship, it seems He is working it out in those closest to me at the very same time. If you haven’t read her blog, read it HERE first and then come on back to me.
So I suppose I should start with a praise offering before I go into my pile of crap with you. That way the stench of what needs sacrificing doesn’t overwhelm the fact that my offering is ultimately a fragrance welcomed by God, no matter how old and infected it may be.
I praise God for relationship. I praise God for intimacy. I praise God for the full length mirrors He has given me as gifts and tools for lifelong self-reflection who bear the names Jarrett, Jory, Jace and Brynn. I praise God for best friends who not only bring to light things one on one, but broadcast it to the blogging world in order that hiding from accountability is not an option. I praise God for light. I praise God for freedom.
I am also on the verge of praising for the things that hold me back in certain places. I say on the verge, because embracing my deficiencies are never moments I charge excitedly. I mean I will do it, because God has made me obedient, but I don’t like it.
And so IT is (this week at least), comparison.
Comparison has been a companion of mine for my entire life. If we are honest, its in all of us. It bears names like education, money, intellect, beauty, weight, status, and success just to name a few. We are born into a society and bred by that society to compare. It’s so rooted in us that we don’t even know we are doing it. Not only are we being done (or undone) by it, we are perpetuating it.
Webster’s dictionary defines comparison as the act of comparing and also simultaneously the state of being compared. Do you get that? Comparison is the thing we do externally as a manifestation of what we are doing internally.
There is nothing like relationships that matter to us to draw out in us this deep seated root of comparison. We are drawn to those who reflect the truest nature of our inmost selves. For the most part we really appreciate them for who they are – until we realize that those people are a reflection of what we really like most about ourselves. Then we are faced with the question “is there enough of that to go around?”. Thats why marriage gets hard. Thats why friendships (real ones) get hard, because God uses them to wake us up to deeper places in us.
Annndddd so it is with Alisa. Alisa is a leader of the finest degree. She is fearless and brilliant. Articulate and generous. Stunning and strong. Everything I want to be when I grow up. Alisa has all the things I ask God to make me in ministry. What a perfect place for the creeper called comparison to take root.
God says in Galatians 6:4-5 in the Message “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” It sounds easy. It’s not. I am not allowed to add to the Bible, but if I was, I would add “God helping you” to Galatians 6:4-5, because Lord knows He needs to.
It first began when I started to see Alisa step into the fullness of who God has created her to be, specifically in her teaching of the Word and her leadership in ministry. I say it began there because it was a quick landslide. I found myself jealous of the restoration work God was doing in her marriage. The very marriage I had been petitioning for in prayer (without ceasing) for the last four years. Gross. What the hell? What is that? I clearly see my crazy but why do I know better yet can’t do better? I need a Savior, stat.
See, I need people to like me. I need people to want me to be around and I need people to think I am great in order to feel worth. Ok, that’s not pretty to write. It’s not pretty to admit (to myself, let alone all of you) and it’s not pretty that it’s true.
My comparison trap is I want to be the best at whatever I do and if I perceive anyone else as better, I have a problem. My problem is not against flesh and blood, but is one of spirit. I am not assaulted by Alisa and her beautiful being, I am assaulted by a lie of the enemy that says “if Alisa is good at this, there is no room for you to be good at it too.” It’s a scarcity mentality. It’s a lie that says there is not enough to go around. Without the Spirit of the Lord plumbing the depth of my being, I would assume Alisa is the problem. I would make Alisa, what my sister Stephanie calls, a “we” problem. My issue of comparison who happens to be wearing the name “Alisa” is not a “we” problem, its a “me” problem. Its a spiritual problem that the Lord is wanting to heal in me.
And here is the truth. For a while Alisa and I kept it at bay. We would confess to each other right away when our feelings of jealousy would pop up in order that we have fellowship with one another in the light. We know what the Word says and we were doing it…but God often has something more. God had for each of us something more than the “we”. “We” were good. “We” were honest and still the “we” felt unsettled. We know now that God was interested in the “me” in both of us. We needed individual explorations of the heart. I went on my “me” journey and realized that our “we” lacking was a reflection of my “me” needs.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” As a lover of the great Lover, my joy is found in the person and anchor of Jesus Christ. To compare myself with others is to intentionally look Christ in the face and say “you are not enough”. What you have for me and all that your Word promises, is not enough. It’s to say that the temporal fix from believing that I am “better than her” or “it’s all her fault” is more secure than the act of Christ on the cross.
In closing, can I ask you an honest question? Do you have a “we” situation that is troubling you today? Could your “we” problem simply be the lowest hanging fruit, per se? The fruit most easily picked on. Or off. The ones that could easily be discarded as hopeless and in need of disposal? Or could there be something more than the “we” ? Could the Lord be calling you to the “me”?
The remedy of “we” is found in the remedy of “me”. By definition, comparison is the act of comparing and also simultaneously the state of being compared. In Christ we are anchored to Him. He defines us and in Him there is no room for lack, scarcity, or comparison.
And there it is, friends. In the words of my sister and bestie por vida…