I don’t know what kind of day Theodore Roosevelt was having when he said this, or who he might have been suffering in comparison to (who do you compare yourself to when you’re a president!), but he was bang on the money.
Eventually, after many years of allowing Jesus to gently show me how he sees me, I don’t cripple myself with comparison too often.
But the devil is a cunning character and he’ll keep his eye on your Achilles heel waiting for the moment you’ve left it undefended too long, then in he’ll sneak with his whispering lies and distortion.
Last weekend, while attending an event with my work, I came into contact with a couple of my peers who I immediately placed myself in comparison with. They were considerably bigger players in this weird Christian world that we swim in, and so the enemy came nipping at my heels with his snide accusations.
“What have you done in comparison to her? Look at what she’s achieved. You’re still coming in second best, as always.”
Even though I now recognise these lies for what they are, in a weak moment they can still take the legs out from underneath me. I spent the morning feeling insecure and uncertain of myself, and generally pretty rubbish.
Thank goodness for Jesus.
Once again he came and lifted my eyes, reminded me of who I am in him, and revealed to me afresh the things in my past that the enemy has taken and bent out of shape, until they resemble something they never really were. It takes my Saviour to sweep away the cobwebs and dirt that have gathered after years of falsehoods, to reveal the beauty and truth that lies beneath and to restore my sense of who I am.
Once I am back in the arms of Jesus, comparison is set aside and joy returns. I can worship because I am unique, fearfully and wonderfully made, just like my peers standing before me. I can rejoice once more in them and in the amazing ways in which God is using them for his Kingdom purposes. Rather than hold back in my vulnerability, I can step forward and cheer them on, standing safe and secure in my identity.
Comparison not only steals joy, but encouragement, positivity and warmth. Comparison diminishes me and you and places a roadblock between us – everyone loses. I see so clearly why the enemy uses it so often. It holds us back from stepping into the fullness of who we were created to be, and brings animosity where they could be harmony and unity.
My moment of comparison last weekend was unpleasant, but it served as a rich reminder of all that can be stolen away when we set ourselves against others. And it allowed Jesus to remind me that his words over me are my true identity, and as such I suffer in comparison to no one.