Great mourning has been taking place around my city these past several days. One would think some great tragedy has befallen upon us. Well, it has (as far as my city is concerned). Our Major League Baseball team just lost its run for the World Series last week and we now have to stand by and watch other teams (that we undoubtedly would have beaten had we faced them… ahem, ahem…) compete where we now cannot. One tries to accept these things with grace and professionalism, but the truth is – we can’t help but play the “Comparison Game.” Once we realized we wouldn’t be moving forward, we began playing the Comparison Game. We looked at what could have been, why it is not, and we get frustrated about it. (Post-game interviews do this well.)
I have found the Comparison Game to be a competition that a lot of us like to participate in. It is often rooted in the desire for what we do not have or cannot do and can be described by phrases such as “the grass is greener” or “must be nice to have that kind of life” (hear sarcasm). The Comparison Game is not a beneficial game because it tries to compare one life to another without being able to accurately compare one life to another. For example, I can look at someone who is a better tennis player than me and wonder why she can be so good at the sport and I cannot when we have the same instructor, I work harder than she does, etc. This line of thinking (comparing) is a waste of time. Unless we are two individuals who have EXACTLY the same lives (and even genetic clones do not have this!), then how can it be a true comparison? Playing the Comparison Game is a waste of time. Sometimes we play the Comparison Game and feel good about ourselves – we feel we are “better” than someone else. Most often, however, we play the Game and feel something entirely different – more consuming. We feel Jealousy. And jealousy is a terribly destructive thing.
Years ago I realized I was playing the Comparison Game at a level that would have made me a Professional. (Too bad the MLB-type salaries don’t pay out for skilled players of the Comparison Game.) I was starting to notice strained relationships because of my secret, comparison thoughts and it was a problem. So I did what I should have done much earlier in life: I went to God with my frustration and anger and jealously over why my life didn’t compare to others’ lives in the ways I would have preferred it to compare. (We can and should always be completely honest with God about everything… nothing surprises Him. Psalm 139:2-3, e.g.) God – being faithful as He always is – pointed out to me the solution to get out of the Comparison Game. He gave me the exit strategy that has allowed me avoid playing the Comparison Game and living a more joyful and peaceful life. The secret to getting out of the Comparison Game is simply embracing this truth: your life is about what God is doing with your life. Bottom line. End of story. I felt as if God was almost audibly saying to me, “Nikki – don’t you go and look at (whomever) and be envious of what I am doing in his/her life. That is between me and him/her. Your life is about what I am doing in you. I did not ask (whomever) for his/her opinion on what I am doing in your life and I am not asking for your opinion on what I am doing in his/her life. Trust me. I got this. We can talk it out, but this is solely between you and me.”
Life-changing for me. I hung up the comparison sports gear and other thought life exercises that made me a Pro in the Comparison Game. It was a huge relief. Suddenly, I could rejoice with friends – genuinely – who were getting things that I didn’t have (and dearly wanted). I could say “Congratulations! Look what awesome things God is doing in your life!” If I “lost” and someone else “won” I could genuinely be happy for the other person because I knew that this was God’s doing in their life and He was still doing something in mine – even through the loss. I could trust Him. I can trust Him. And so can you. Are you a player in the Comparison Game?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22 (Emphasis added.)
by His grace -