You have freedom to grow at your own pace, exactly where God has you!
Comparison is a jerk. I mean… it can take you from leaving your house in that fabulous red dress feeling like you INVENTED the runway, to arriving at your destination, realizing you’re sorely overdressed among your peers in ripped skinny jeans, and now you want to shrink back into the shadows never to show your face again.
Despite the sudden personality disorders that comparison can draw us into, we all get stuck in that trap from time to time. Yes, yes, we’ve seen the inspirational social media posts reminding us how damaging it is, but our brains still drag us into those familiar murky waters when we least expect it. WHY?
If you’ve ever gotten lost in the mental-gymnastics of comparison, I have two thoughts for you that will give you a fresh lens in those momentary lapses of judgment.
Truth #1: The entire world lives in seasons, and your life is no exception.
Tending my garden when my kids were young had many life lessons buried within the process. The lesson of SEASONS is painfully apparent when you’re craving watermelon and you have to watch it grow from a seed for the next grueling three months! (Note to self: just go buy the watermelon.)
You see, a watermelon, carrot and fig have very different personal journeys from seed to planting to harvest. Each one has to go through its own process of planting, crushing, germination, growth, ripening and finally harvest.
From seed planting, a watermelon has two to three months to harvest, while a carrot has less, and a fig tree can take a full year!
So, what’s the point here? A brief, but riveting, gardening lesson? (I know, you’re welcome.)
The point being that your LIFE works on the same rhythm. We all have SEASONS in our lives when we’re planting seeds into our dreams, into people, or purposes. Some of these take weeks to “harvest”, some take years.
So, you must be careful to nurture, not compare, what you’ve started, even when the “seeds of dreams” you’ve planted are being “crushed” by the hard, cold ground of invisibility…(an essential step to the growth process).
Everyone must start with planting seeds of dreams. Then they care for them in the blind winter months that seem like nothing is happening, nurturing patiently. Eventually, they’ll hit a harvest season where suddenly the fruit is abundant: the promotion comes, the kids grow up awesome, the business takes off. (Although it wasn’t really so sudden, was it?)
This is why comparison is a lie & a trap.
Everyone’s life “fruits” are growing in different seasons and at different paces, so comparison is a broken scale.
Truth #2: Comparing yourself against your (Instagram) neighbor will never set you up for success.
Comparison robs you blind of this precious truth: in order to fulfill your greatest destiny, you were designed to see yourself ONLY through the eyes of the Father.
2 Corinthians 10:12, 18 says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise…. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (italics mine)
Why does this passage say that those who compare themselves are not wise?
The word “compare”, means to “judge one thing in connection with another”, (note: not in connection with what Father sees). Thus, comparison brings incorrect judgment. AKA, it lies to you.
In this passage in 2 Corinthians, Paul is making the point that true “success” comes from God Himself and by refusing to judge yourself or others by worldly standards or definitions. He goes on to make the point that only the one who the Lord commends is truly “approved”.
So where does this leave us in the struggle against comparison? The antidote is in finding out and resting in what GOD says about you. End of story, end of struggle.
Comparison will always feel like a trap, because it pulls you off course from both your confidence (because it mislabels the season you’re in) AND your God-given identity (who you really are).
Here are a couple simple tips to overcome comparison and embrace your “season”:
- The moment you feel comparison giving you that “dread” and “discontent with life” feeling, speak truth out loud to yourself:
“It is the Lord who orders my steps. I am seeking Him first, and I am right where I should be. Thank you, Lord, for the grace to do what you’ve called me to do…it’s unique to my life plan and is the best plan for me!”
- NURTURE what He has put in front of you by continuing to be faithful in it.
If it’s building a business, continue to focus on what YOU need to do to take the next right step. Be faithful in the small things. If that’s raising kids, remind yourself that you’re exactly who your kids need. Keep leaning into the Holy Spirit for ideas on how to be the unique mother THEY need, rather than what Pinterest says you should be doing (although, props for the great ideas!).
- Keep a sharp eye on what your season IS.
Don’t expect August’s harvest when you’re in March-planting. Each season is a crucial step in producing the tasty fruit you crave and God commends. Faithfulness is His value system.
- Celebrate your wins by looking back to where you started, acknowledge where you’ve come from, and give God the glory for it!
Faithfulness to the vision and call of God on your life is what got you here. In fact, celebrate what God has done in Sister Instagram and Cousin Pinterest’s lives too! That’ll really shift you out of comparison, and back into celebrating God’s goodness in your own journey too… one step at a time.
So, here is your official permission slip to rebel against the instinct to compare. Your SEASONS are always evolving and growing, and your true IDENTITY is wrapped up in who HE says you are… and nothing else.
Go on, friend, rock that runway…even if you’re a little overdressed, who cares. Everyone likes a little extra sparkle in their day, anyhow.
Jenilee Samuel is founder & podcast host at Java with Jen Podcast, CEO of J. Samuel Styling, mom to four boys, and serves alongside her husband as Executive Pastors in Orange, Texas. She grew up as a missionary kid and felt a call to ministry and missions at 14, when she started making disciples as a small group leader who trained other leaders as well. She and Stephen have been Pastors in various roles since 2005. Her personal mission is to hasten Jesus’ return through relationship-discipleship, equipping the church & it’s leaders to hear His voice and walk as Jesus did, and funding missions through business. She has spoken to groups ranging from 8 person Bible studies, to 85,000-person stadium events, but she considers her greatest achievements to be those she has discipled into a deeper walk with Jesus, who then disciple others to know him better too. Discipleship & hearing God’s voice is at the core of her life-mandate… that and coffee on the side doesn’t hurt ;).