The Cancer of Comparison

For years I’ve wondered how I measured up. Looks, possessions, talent and purpose.

The list goes on.

But comparison is an ugly disease. It’s highly contagious and the age of onset is very young.

I know.

It infected me a long time ago…it must have been Mattel’s fault. Barbie dolls, Easy Bake ovens, pot holder looms and dream toy kitchens. The obsession for acquisition was exhausting. My mom thought I spent a lot of time studying. I was studying all right, but it wasn’t my homework—it was the toy section of the Sears catalog.

Ok…now you know I’m really old.

And then came high school. The popular girls all shopped at cute little boutiques where I only dared to window peep. I wanted a Hang Ten® satin jacket. My dad would only splurge for a Hang Five. So I sewed.

A lot.

For a while, my faux fashion ran a tight race with the couture queens. But then I got my driver’s license. And there it was in plain sight. My Ford fossil. My image was afflicted. Today distressed things are vogue, but not back then. So, I parked far away.  

Super far.

If only I’d kept that 69 Mustang! Who knew that the car I was embarrassed to drive would one day be a collector’s dream.

After my children were born there was a span of time when I was symptom-free. Toddler tyranny, laundry warfare and kitchen combat suppressed my comparison cancer for a few years. Cabbage Patch Dolls fought with my passion for fashion and Thomas the Tank Engine railroaded my Hobby Lobby budget. But the season of remission expired when the last child entered Kindergarten. By the time the symptoms returned, it had metastasized.

No longer just confined to clothing and cars, my need for validation spread. I compared my address, my home décor, my children, my influence, my time shares (or the lack thereof) and success. Was my house as nice? Is my husband as successful as hers? Are my children as talented? 

My self-dialogue droned on like my son’s TV left on all night. I was exhausted from all the re-runs.

One day weary from my inner toxic chatter, I bowed my head and prayed.

Lord, please fix me.

Silence.

Did you hear me, Lord?

His delayed reply was simple. “Just turn it off.”

But how? I cried.

“The reason that comparison is so exasperating is because there is no one else like you. I created you on purpose. I custom designed your talents and your destiny as well as your husband’s calling and your children’s purpose. I even predetermined the exact times and places in which you should live. But you want a quick fix, a surgical remedy, a transplant. And I’m sorry—there is not a suitable match for you.”

No suitable match?

“That’s right. I broke the mold when I made you. That’s why comparison is futile. You are a unique special-order and I tolerate no duplication. There is no one else now, nor has there ever been with the exact combination of outward beauty and inner purpose as you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Sobbing exhale.

Today, I admit—I still care if I measure up…but I’ve changed my test subject. I compare myself to me. Now I strive to be the best me ever.

And it feels good to be free of the comparison trap…

and just be who God created me to be. 

So…what about you—in what ways has comparison tripped you up and how did you get over it?

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17 Responses to The Cancer of Comparison

  1. Shelley November 1, 2008 at 6:55 am #

    Thank you for this article. I remember when my girls were little. They were the great equalizer for me as well. I could dress them to be just as beautiful as the ones who seemingly “had it all”. Then with my music, it was always a inner raging fight when I wasn’t chosen to be a part of this group or that group. Then God knocked me out with the revelation that His annointing ministers from my gift wherever I am. It’s the annointing not the location that breaks every yoke. And THAT”S the important thing.

  2. Andi Hawkins November 1, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    Go ahead and nail me. 😉

  3. John J November 1, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    this is great

  4. Carol W. November 3, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    Good word for today,Christy..
    Comparison does seem to be grounded in “coveting”…
    I want what someone else has…I want to be like someone else (instead of what I am or how God has blessed me)..
    But even worse..the real root is PRIDE.
    Satan was kicked out of heaven because of pride. Satan desired to be God…and not a servant of God. All of Satan’s statements seem to begin with “I will” (Isaiah 14:12-15) and (Ezekiel 28:12-25 describes Satan as an exceedingly beautiful angel…perhaps the highest of all angels)…But he was not content in his position …he wanted more…he wanted to BE God.
    Let’s keep all that in mind when we allow pride and coveting creep into our lives and we begin to be discontent and look at everything through eyes of comparison.
    Christy, I love your statement that encourages us all to look at ourselves and be the best we can be with what God has given us… a great inspiration for sure! Thanks!

  5. Cheryl November 3, 2008 at 9:56 am #

    I think everyone can relate to “comparison”. In today’s world, it is hard not to compare yourself with someone else.

  6. Carole November 3, 2008 at 10:19 am #

    I think everyone at some time in life suffers from the compasion issue. But once you realize how unique you are, a one of a kind masterpiece from the heart of God, I think it changes everything. You devotional concisely explains that. It is great. There is such freedom in not caring what others think about you, or how you measure up. I am free to be me. My Father loves me and to me that is all the affirmation I need!

  7. Jan D. November 3, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Yes, “covet” is a trap I try to stay away from. I have a new home and refuse to go to ‘show cased homes’ because I don’t desire to have what someone else has..that bigger kitchen, the butler’s pantry, the beautiful landscaping, etc. What that home does not have is my husband, sons & pets.

    I enjoy also days that I go shopping and don’t find anything I want. It’s because I’m happy where I am in my life and that ‘new whatever’ won’t improve my quality of life.

    I”m having a ‘life garage sale’ and discarding the negative comments that I’ve collected about myself over the years. “You won’t complete that project in time…You don’t deserve a flat tummy…That goal is too high and you’ll never reach it.,,,You’re lazy…and other usless items.”

    I’m satisified and blessed with the life God has provided me. I’m one lucky gal!!

  8. Peggy Bass November 3, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    This article reminded me of a Sunday School lesson several years ago. The teacher said he would look around at other people and feel pretty good about himself. He prayed a lot more than that one and went to church a lot more than that one and here he is the teacher of a large adult Sunday School class. He felt pretty good about himself. I raised my hand and told him he was comparing himself to the wrong people. We all should be comparing ourselves to Jesus. He agreed and said I beat him to the punch line. Since that time, I rarely compare myself to other people. When I compare myself to Jesus I always fall waaaaaaaaaaaaay short. So I’ve just given up comparing myself to anyone. God loves me just like I am. He loves me too much to leave in this condition though.

  9. Trinda Segard November 3, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Christy,
    I totally relate to this story and how we tend to compare ourselves to others. I do know that God has a purpose for me (as promised to us in Jeremiah 29:11) and I keep that scripture close to my heart on those days that I feel that I’m not as good as others….one way satan tries to get our eyes off of our Lord and Savior and on to the lies that he tries to tell us! Thank you for sharing your story!!! May God’s hands of blessing fall upon you!

  10. Jimann November 3, 2008 at 10:02 pm #

    Christy,
    That was awesome and I know I can definitiely relate to all of that. My daughter is in first grade at Bethany and I want her to be liked by everyone and be the cutest in her class. Just as I want that for myself and I notice myself daily comparing mine to theirs or mine to hers. But today I am trying to just measure up to what God wants for me and not worry about what everyone else has or looks like, this is quite difficult for me though.

  11. Lee Tinsley November 3, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Isn’t it truly amazing how much you begin to appreciate diversity amoung people once you stop comparision shopping. I think at the Pershing we have the perfect example. Michele and Tait are like the south pole and the north pole. But together their magnitisum ( dang it, there’s never a spell check when you need one!) reaches out and positively impacts most all of the residents here at the Pershing Center. However, Michele’s negative re-enfororcement to the unfortunute few is well known far and wide in Pershing Country. They do indeed control the the entire center, much like the opposite magnetic poles on planet earth.

    ( uh, I don’t think there is a east pole or a west pole, is there?)

    I really do appreciate and see the incredible value of diversity in every day life since I dropped the “being like the Jone’s” way of living as I moved up the corporate ladder over a 21 year period. But I really didn’t drop it per sa ( where’s the dang spell check!@) GOD took it from me along with every single material thing I owned. Thank God he did…there’s no telling where I’d be today. More importantly, I would have missed out on that one very special person that I have in my life. I love all the people here at Pershing and wouldn’t trade my life and the things that I am doing here, for anything else right now.

  12. Lee Tinsley November 3, 2008 at 11:51 pm #

    After a long and thoughtful review of the above, I really don’t think that Lee Tinsley guy should be allowed to blog late at night without adult supervision and someone who knows how to use a dictionary.

    Thank You.
    Rocky Tinsley.

  13. Christy Johnson November 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm #

    Lee…dude, you rock! Getting to that place where we wouldn’t give up our trials is a mountain top experience. You made it to the summit!

    Rocky…you’re so funny!

  14. Irene November 5, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Christy, this was truly an inspirational devo! I’ve been there, done that! No one was more miserable than I was! But God so graciously kept on loving me! And brought me to the realization of how uniquely special I am to God, “His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time….Eph. 2:10”. When I learned to love myself, then I was no longer in “bondage to self” BUT free to love others completely without envy or covetousness. Phil. 2:1-4 challenges me daily!

  15. Melissa J. November 6, 2008 at 8:41 am #

    This is really really good, I have that problem sometimes too, I always look at someone else, and I’m like dude… if I would have done that I would have been like so and so… That is a slow learning process for me… But I’ll get it!

    <3

  16. MELISSA November 8, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    Hear it in my head even now, the constant battle of how I am not good enough and will never be as good as my sisters. I’m not as smart as them or as atheletic and them, I’m not as slim as them, you don’t even have the same daddy. Those attacks began at a very early age and still plague me at every turn. Here I am 40 years old and have to constanly tell myself stand strong Melissa and trust in Him, you may not be good enough in yourself but you are through Him. I am too fat, I have a big mouth, I am not as educated as others, I am an addict and a felon. Satan attacks whispering insult after insult into my ear. I have heard these things for so long that even though I know they are untruths I hear them and find myself feeling less than, and vulnerable. Sometimes I just want to shrivel up to nothing in the presence of others and become invisible to all. I keep praying and I keep pushing foward, I keep trusting in him and just when it seems like it can’t get any worse it does. I loose a job, my car breaks down, my ex still won’t let me have visitation with my youngest son, I get a letter saying I owe money for back taxes, the list goes on and on. but somehow through it all I He reminds me He is still there and He has made me beautiful in His sight through His love. He is the ray of light that peeks through the shutters of my soul, I have a poem that a friend gave me, it tells about how each of us have a guardian angel that is a mighty warrior who goes with us throughout our lifes. He fights for us all the battles we never see. I stop to think of him and how he has fought for me, how his robes must be tattered and torn, how very tired he must be for I have taken many a wrong turn in this life. There are times when I feel the battle raging in me, I close my eyes and listen and I can hear his war cry and the ring of his sword still sturdy and true. When I think of this I think there has to be more to me because otherwise why would he continue to fight for one so unworthy as me? Then I hear it as if he were next to me, he says, “what ever you do unto the least of these children you also do unto me”. That’s when I know why, it’s because I am his and I really am someone very special. Even though I may not always see it he tells me so in his word and I know it must be true.

  17. LaVila November 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    Christy, you always minister where the rubber meets the road. The best for you is yet to come.

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