The Devil Is in Comparison

[ 2 ] May 20, AD 2013 |

I can hardly tell you how often I’ve had the following thoughts lately:

“She’s married with three kids and she is only a year older than I am, what am I doing with my life?“

“She’s traveled to six different countries in the last three years, what on Earth have I been doing?“

He’s got a great full-time job and just got engaged to one of the most amazing women I know. What am I doing with my life?

“She just makes the most radiant bride! And she is younger than me?!“

“Look at her beautiful baby bump, she is just glowing! What am I doing with my life?“

“He’s a seasoned songwriter, making God only knows how much money, and touring and traveling, and he’s married. And he’s three years younger than me?!“

I get it. If I’m being really honest, I know those aren’t the best thoughts. God is using each of those people exactly where He needs them to be. But what about me? It is such an easy question to wonder. I can look at just about anyone and tell you that I feel infinitely less accomplished, less put together, less well-off than they are. I can come up with things I’m doing right, things I’m blessed with, and things I’m happy about. However, with each on of those things I can easily put a caveat as to why my life isn’t as awesome as it could be.

I’m using all of my degrees in a job I love…but I’m working two jobs in the same field and I’m still not full-time.

I get to travel more frequently than most…but I don’t get paid vacation like so many of my friends.

I love my living situation…but it isn’t where I thought I’d be living at this point in my life. I thought I’d own a house by now.

For weeks and weeks I’ve been telling myself to stop comparing my life with other people’s lives. The words of Steve Furtick ring so true in my head, but they don’t penetrate my heart: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” My behind-the-scenes is messy and chaotic, but everyone else’s highlight reel is picture perfect. I see their houses, their freshly painted rooms, their cute sonogram pictures, and their sweet engagement stories and I can’t help but wonder what I’m doing with my life. Am I wasting my time? Am I really serving God? And for goodness sake, why isn’t that MY life?

Then one night, like a train on the tracks, it hit me. My mom came home from Mass and told me that she’d told a lady at church who is about my age that I’d written a book. This lady’s response? She wrote a book!? What on Earth have I been doing with my life?! 

The thing is that we all do this business of comparing our lives to others. It wasn’t until someone compared her life to mine (and felt exactly how I’ve been feeling about everyone else’s lives) that it really hit me: we are exactly where God wants us to be. God called the songwriter, and the wife, and the mother just as much as He called me to write a book. Is this the life I thought I’d have? No way. But if it is where He wants me, if my great passion is meeting His calling for my life, then no comparison can ever rob me of the joy of serving, following, and loving my God.

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Category: Relationships, Single Life

About the Author ()

Amanda Mortus is a woman after the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. Amanda is a Colorado native, who graduated from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina with a B.A. in Theology, as well as minors in Psychology and Philosophy. Amanda, a director of faith formation, is the author of Worthy: See Yourself as God Does, available now on Amazon, Kindle, and CreateSpace. Signed copies can be ordered through her website. Her blog can be found at worthy of Agape.
  • Edward

    Thanks for the great article. There is a lot of truth in what you say. For the most part, comparing ourselves with others is not good and unhealthy. But there have been times when I’ve compared myself to someone and it has had a positive effect. One example for me was spiritually. I saw that the love, devotion, and holiness of some guys at school that challenged me, “where am I spiritually?” Seeing their authentic witness encouraged me to do a daily Holy Hour, which had unfortunately taken a back seat. It encouraged me to jump start my prayer life again. And it simply was because I looked at someone and compared my current situation to them.

    • http://twitter.com/worthyofAgape Amanda Mortus

      Edward,
      You make an excellent point! There are times when we look at another person and see a habit or characteristic in them that we want or even need to imitate in our own lives. Those can be very fruitful times. It is important to recognize those times as an opportunity for growth, rather than a reason to be jealous and let the devil trick us into thinking that we aren’t as good or as holy as someone else.
      Thanks for the feedback!