By Sarah Martin
We’ve all played the game. You know it and I know it, the comparison game is one that rears it’s ugliness and traps us even in our best moments. Somehow, someway this comparison game runs rampant among women. This game we play in our heads creates broken friendships, missed life callings, and all out sin. Yep, I said sin. My seemingly innocuous thoughts and comparisons are considered by the Lord as flat out sin. This truth is straight from the book of Galatians, and served as a holy kick in the pants to get over myself.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, JEALOUSY, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:19-23, emphasis mine).
This jealousy and envy that we allow to have its say in our minds serves no good purpose and steals the joy we find when we sit and live content right where God has us.
Because I’ve played the comparison game and lost way too many times to count, I thought I would lay it all on the line and share some tools that I personally use to just STOP the game. These tools and weapons and “game chips” have been wielded during those time when the ugliness of comparison threatens my joy and I’ve found meaningful victory, true, God-given victory.
1. Know your vulnerable times. From very personal experience, I’ve come to recognize the specific times in which the temptation to partake in the comparison game arises. For me it is when I am tired and stressed. It is when I’m not firing on all cylinders that I fall into the trap seeing what others have in abundance verses what I perceive as personal lack. And, to get real about it, it is when my hormones are raging that I allow my guard down as I swipe through social media. Without the filter that helps me see the “perfectly edited” lives of my friends, I compare that to my messy, chaotic, unedited life. Taking that one step further, I absolutely join in on the game when I haven’t had enough Jesus time. Bottom line, when we are flat out depleted physically and spiritually, our mind plays games on us and we distort reality and put others on that pedestal of the unattainable.
2. Pray for that person. When having a very raw conversation with a good friend about jealousy and comparison, she shared a profound way of stepping away from the game. By praying for that person in which we compare and contrast, we place them in the honor of what they are: a child of God. Not a facade of that which we hope for in our own lives. My friend went so far as to suggest praying blessings over the very one who has everything that I want. As I began this practice, I noticed my heart changed slowly and I went from idolizing that person to approaching God on her behalf.
Though it is hard to take that first step to get over our heart hurt and pray, let’s do this together. Who is one person that you play the silent game of comparison with? Pray right now that God will bless her and keep her. Pray that she feels His love and acceptance. Pray for peace and mercy. Pray for things you want for yourself over that woman that God loves as much as He loves you.
3. Take inventory. This one might seem elementary or overly simple, but it is a powerful way to refocus our minds and hearts toward the Giver of every good and perfect gift. When we take time in the middle of the comparison game and choose to literally list out (pen and paper!) all of the blessings, opportunities, outpourings, miracles, love moments, grace moments that God showers on us daily, something begins to shift. The score board tilts more toward gratefulness and away from envy. For me, this intentionally time of taking inventory has to happen daily when I am in my vulnerable times. It forces my hand. I begin to unclench that ever tangible and palpable grip of jealous comparison and God chips away at my sin. Though His forgiveness is abundant, my need for daily repentance of comparison is necessary to win the game.
How will you stop the game of comparison today? Will you trade jealousy, envy and comparison for the ever lovely and juicy fruit of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Oh. these are so much more fun to live with. Let’s do it. Through God’s power and mercy we can win the game!
Sarah Martin is a wife, mother, friend, mentor, author and wanna be artist. She has a passion to ignite this generation to get up off the couch of complacency and do life differently for God’s kingdom. When she is not typing away at her laptop, you can often find Sarah on date nights with her husband, rough housing with her young son, or getting her hands messy with craft paint. She is the author of Just RISE UP!: A Call To Make Jesus Famous (Thomas Nelson, Oct. 2014) www.liveitoutblog.com.