I recently stood in front of a crowd of college students and shared Why I Quit Comparison.
I talked through how "Comparison is the thief of joy" (maybe Eleanor Roosevelt?). And that my new thought to sit next to that brilliant one is: "Celebration is the fuel for joy."
Instead of comparing and looking side to side (dizzying and detrimental) I am looking up. I am celebrating God, celebrating others and celebrating the beauty around us.
But here’s the WHOLE ENTIRE THING about all of that:
The only way we can celebrate others is if we know who we are.
It is insecurity that causes us to compare. And we are insecure when we do not know who we are - which is a deeply loved, cherished, cared for and delighted in son or daughter.
And if we don’t know who we are and how loved we are - then we scramble, we anxiously look around for security, we try to make a name for ourself, we try to make ourselves great and secure and reduce others around us.
But God is telling us, this very moment, that you are deeply, profoundly loved and you can stand secure, safe and steady in His love.
You can stay peaceful.
You can be calm.
You can rest easy.
His love is freedom for your soul and lets you celebrate Him, celebrate others and celebrate the beauty around you.
Look at what God says: “I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you. Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”
-Isaiah 41:8-10 MSG
He has picked you. Don’t panic (if you find that you are panicky, see if you are comparing yourself to others). He gives you strength and has a firm grip on you - because He LOVES you.
He also says this: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters (because you will), I will be with you; And through the rivers (because you will, dear one), they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire (because we will, we live on this broken earth), you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you. Do not fear, I am with you.” -Isaiah 43
And He had people pray this for you years and years ago: “And I ask God that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17-21
And writers in the Psalms say this about God: “He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”-Psalm 18:19
And then God says this: "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.' - Jeremiah 29:11
This last one was written to a section of Israel who were in captivity and who had made some major mistakes. And God sends a friend to tell all of them that He is still FOR them. And has good for them and forgiveness for them. Even in their major messy lives and choices.
One of the things that happens in my mind when I compare is that I believe God has good plans for my friends - but NOT for me.
And that is simply not true.
He wants to give us a future and hope. It may not look how we think it might (the American dream or a pain and suffering-free life or what we think God loving us would look like) but it is a good plan none the less for God’s people. It includes forgiveness and love and peace with God. That's a good plan and hope and future for those who come to God and are ready to restore relationship with Him.
Because He is a good King.
So, we don’t have to get so crazy. We can celebrate others. We can enjoy the accomplishments of those around us. We don’t have to panic. We don’t have to reduce others. We can trust that God has good for us.
He’s out to give us good things. Which starts with Himself, the Best Thing we could have.
May this sink into the places that are screaming to be set free and be a balm to the anxiety that wants to define you.