For the past 23 days my family has suffered from an evil virus that causes sore limbs, scratchy throats and tentative stomachs. This bug’s intentional cruelty is evidenced in how it waits until one victim feels well before it tackles the next. Once it attacks, you’d swallow any pill or drink any revulsive syrup just to make it go away.
I’m its latest victim. As I rest on my death, er . . .um . . .rather, sick bed (I tend to be a bit melodramatic when ill), I think of the similarities between physical illness and comparison. When one wrestles their desires for more they often also wrestle hopelessness. They feel they’ll never get better. They’ll never catch up. They’ll never look that good, be that good, make that much money, have that nice of a home, drive that nice of a car, or have a family like that . . .
Like a never-ending sickness, comparison robs us of life and joy.
Comparison needs a cure.
Some believe they have it. Just love yourself, they say. Or–my new fave– just “tell your brain to change it’s mind.” Decide to be “happy” for your skinnier friend who just won the lottery, married Superman, and moved to the Caribbean. Think about all the ways you’ve been blessed and try not to feel like she has it better. For example, Superman probably works a lot of late nights and it’s likely hard to find pants that stay up when you have no stomach fat.
That’ll help you feel better . . .
But does that work when you are sick? I’m hardly able to convince my queasy stomach to just “pretend” that its well. I can say to my husband, “I’m happy you didn’t get the black plague, too” but applauding him does nothing to cure my actual illness.
Comparison needs a real cure—an internal medicine that has nothing to do with mind games, throwing shallow platitudes at each other, or self-love.
Are you ready for this?
The real cure for comparison can be found at the airport.
Picture it. You checked your luggage already. Now it’s just you and your twenty pound, stuffed so much it won’t zip, purse sliding down your shoulder. Your other arm tugs the handle to a spunky carry-on suitcase. You zip your way through the queue to the vapid TSA agent and flash your boarding pass and identification. He looks at you. Then, he looks at the picture. He peers at you once again, this time over his rimless glasses, and then slashes that rectangular shaped paper with his yellow highlighter. Still expressionless, he nods you toward the appropriate security line while he returns to you that very important piece of paper and the equally important identification card.
Just like hopping on the last flight home, curing comparison requires these same two items: an ID and a boarding pass.
Allow me to explain.
First, there’s the photo ID. In the airport, this is how the authorities know that you are who you say you are. Similarly, if you want to stop comparing yourself to other people’s success, status or looks, you have to know who you are. This is a different type of ID: It’s your identity.
I wrestled mine for decades. Truth is: I wanted to look like someone else, be like someone else. I didn’t really enjoy being me. Yet no matter what changes I tried, the picture on my driver’s license still resembled the image in the mirror. The printed name and vital stats were always mine. I couldn’t alter them to match someone else’s. My identity was unique.
God set it up that way.
It’s not about “finding yourself” or “loving yourself,” though.
Becoming secure in your identity requires you to know whose you are, not just who you are. Knowing my own name, address, and eye color did nothing to bolster my confidence. But when I realized the tremendous value I had through Jesus and all that He had promised me as a child of the King, then I could rest in the fact that no matter what I may do to tarnish my own name, His grace keeps my identity secure.
Then there’s the boarding pass. How does a boarding pass help you defeat comparison?
Because a boarding pass tells you where you are going.
Want to be comparison-free? Then understand your purpose. Have an unwavering commitment to this truth: God has a distinct plan for your life and the reason you are here is to fulfill His plan, alone.
Did you ever notice how at the airport most people look like they know where they are going?
Sure, there are a few lost ones out there but they are still headed for a certain gate. Most people go through the airport with a great sense of determination. They know where their plane boards and head there. Some even run so they won’t miss that flight!
Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to walk aimlessly from gate to gate checking out the people lined up for the different flights?
“Hmm. . .the crowd headed to LAX looks fun, maybe I should go to Los Angeles instead of Atlanta?”
If your boarding pass says Chicago and you try to get on the flight to Cancun, you’ll be dismissed.
Travelers don’t do that because they know where they are headed. Friends, as we travel through this life we need to remember the same. We need to know what our boarding pass reads. We need to know our purpose here in life’s airport, and our ultimate destination where contests of size, shape, wealth, success, or fame do not exist.
Ready to be done with comparison? Want to find the cure?
Get your ID straight and read your boarding pass.
Become so committed to being who God made you to be and accomplishing what it is He wants you to accomplish here that you don’t have time to look sideways and see who anyone else is or where anyone else is headed.
God has already given you everything you need to accomplish his purpose.
I pray you’ll believe it.