“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgement you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye! Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.” -Matthew 7:1-6-
When I was younger, I used to love this passage because I pictured two cartoon guys, one with some dust in his eyes, the other with a massive tree coming out of it. While the guy with the dust was complaining how his eye hurt, the one with the log would turn around to take out the dust, and, unaware of the log, completely knock out his friend, and then wonder what happened.
So it is with comparison. Whether you come out on top or see yourself as the guy with the log, somebody gets knocked out, and the other is left wondering what happened. Recently my husband bought me the planner I’ve been lusting after for ages, Passion Planner. Beginning with mapping out your dream life, it then walks you through breaking it down into achievable steps, complete with deadlines. At the start of each month there is a space to make another mind-map, this one using each specific month’s “game changer,” broken down into week-by-week goals, which will ultimately help reach the year’s goal. Personally, this year’s main resolution is to discover on a clear and tangible level what Christ designed me for. January’s game-changer, then, is to stop comparing myself with peers.
As I prayed through the steps necessary to reach this, this is what the Lord showed me. It will look different for everybody, but as we can all agree, I think, that the old adage of “comparison kills” is brutally accurate, I thought I’d share. Maybe one of you can take my “passion plan” for the month and tweak it to suit your own life and pursuit of ending this societal cancer of comparison.
Keep your heart set on Limber-Lost. Limber-Lost is a beautiful and iconic swamp in Indiana, and the setting for some of my favorite books. Because of how these books shaped me and my writing, I’ve begun using the name Limber-Lost for that place inside myself which remains concrete, no matter how circumstances alter or how I grow and change. It is the garden in which I meet my Maker, the place from which all these ramblings you read flow. Each person’s “Limber-Lost” is unique to them, but I would argue that we all have one, a secret core of our identity none can touch besides its Creator. By keeping my heart set on Limber-Lost, my gaze remains fixed on Christ and His unique plan for me, outside of what my friends are doing or what society says I should be doing.
Pour into what you love for the sake of Christ, forgetting the outside voices. The Lord has an individual plan for each of His children, and to forsake that to fit in with those around us is a waste of a beauty and art which never truly belonged to us, but Him who designed it.
Weekly ask: Why am I doing what I am doing? Is it to prove a point? For some sort of status? Is it out of a sense of obligation or striving to look more like my creative role models? Because the reality is, any aspiration founded on this will breed pretension. For each piece of writing I produce, the prayer is that it be an overflow from talks with the Lord, that each post is centered on bringing Him glory and reaching others for His name’s sake.
Regularly ask the Lord to give you His eyes for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Once we see each other through His eyes, comparison becomes nearly impossible. He created us entirely unique, without rival.
When thoughts wander there, remember the individuality and beauty of the rest of God’s creation. In the same way a deer isn’t meant to sing like a bird, so I’m not meant to have all the same traits, strengths, and gifts as those around me. “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!” -Luke 12:27-
Be real with Jonny about how I’m doing with all of this. Jonny has always been such an agent of growth in my life, inspiring and encouraging me to chase passionately after anything the Lord places on my heart. However, he also has always reminded me to then keep my eyes on the Lord, because if He’s not in the center of whatever I’m doing, it’s worthless. By having him regularly keep me accountable with all of this, I’m more apt to follow through and will have his wisdom to both call me out when comparison creeps in, as well as encourage when it feels a hopeless endeavor.
As we walk forward into this new year, I invite you to join me in this war against comparison. Because it’s so subtle we don’t always realize we’re doing it. However, once it has been called out in ourselves and a plan has been made, we can change the mental track and run more fully along the path He has uniquely called us to.
In the morning stillness
Your voice whispers
Come away with Me
Back beyond the trees
Where we once danced among the leaves
As the sky turns green
In the January breeze.”