How do you handle comparison?
Last week, I shared a post on Instagram about letting go of our past, and being unashamed of whatever our past may look like. One of my followers essentially told me I wasn’t qualified to talk about such things as my past mistakes were small compared to others. She assumed that my life was free of troubles, and that I was exceedingly blessed. She concluded my blessings were based on material blessings that I share on my social media- being married to a doctor, designer shoes, well-furnished home, and high salary (I never shared this one so I’m not sure how she drew this conclusion lol).
The entire interaction really troubled me. I thought I had really missed the humility mark. I thought maybe I was sharing too much on social media, and it was causing envy. I thought maybe I didn’t do well with highlighting my real struggles. I also thought about how often I indirectly drew the same conclusion about others on social media who appeared to be doing better than me.
All of these thoughts prompted today’s post. I thought so much about the ordeal, that the Holy Spirit even convicted me about my hypocrisy. Here I was offended by this woman’s comments even though I sometimes share the same thoughts about others I see on social media. Isn’t it amazing how our handheld devices make it easier to compare our lives with people all over the world? No matter how successful we are, there is always someone else with more, and for this reason we can never be satisfied.
After reading her comments on my post, I felt the need to make her feel better by sharing some of my private struggles. But that didn’t help much because the truth is I don’t have a great deal of private struggles; so comparing mine to hers or anyone else’s, for that matter, further encourages this comparison issue. The root of this issue is the nature of envy. We are displeased at the good of others anytime it appears to be greater than our own good. We weigh our blessings against those who seem to be more blessed than us. But when do our standalone blessings become enough?Envy is a sin that neither profits nor provides pleasure. (1) Those that envy are miserable, (2) Envy is displeasing to God, (3) and the person being envied isn’t treated fairly.
In Matthew 20: 1-16, Jesus shares a parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. A landowner goes out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agrees to pay them all a set amount of money for a day’s work. He hired different workers at 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 5pm. In the end, they all received the same pay. The workers who were hired first complained that those who were hired last shouldn’t receive the same amount of pay. The landowner answers by saying he isn’t being unfair; and that they all agreed to work for that set amount.
There are so many lessons that can be learned from this parable. However, the one that I’d like to share today is the one of contentment. The truth, regardless of your feelings about it, is that many who begin last may receive the same if not more than some who begin first. God rewards us not because of the amount of work or time we put into things, but because He is God and in His wisdom, He deals with us all differently.
Right now, I can name a handful of people who I truly love that keep their distance from me because they perceive my blessings to be greater than theirs. I sense envious energy around these people and it hurts me because I often try to appease them by highlighting my struggles; struggles that don’t even really bother me much.
The Word of God has taught me to be content in every season of my life. Even if my current season includes blessings far less than those of my neighbors, I try my best to be satisfied with what God has given me. I’ve come to understand an important lesson- that when we are content and faithful with what God gives us, He can entrust us to be content and faithful with much more.
As tempting as it is, I don’t want to make anyone comfortable with their envy. I no longer support narratives that discuss people’s highlight reels and secret struggles. Because what happens when we find out that there are no secret struggles, and there are no hidden troubles? What happens when someone’s perceived highlight reel is actually their life all the time? We have to learn to be content with what we have, while simultaneously rejoicing in the blessings of others.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4: 11-13)
WHAT I’M WEARING:
Trench Coat: Banana Republic ; Dress: Banana Republic (try this) ; Boots: c/o DSW (get it here) ; Bag: Zac Posen ; Sunglasses: Givenchy ; Hair: Here I created this wig myself. This hair is kinky straight but to achieve this look, I used a curling wand .To order your own, shop here and I’ll make and ship yours within 7-10 business days. US shipping only.