They say comparison kills. That statement couldn’t be more true.
You know you’ve had those moments of seeing that perfectly edited picture of that couple on Instagram, or that girl with the perfect outfit, hair, eyebrows, and skin. You see them or her and think their life must be so … well, perfect. You get that discontented, insecure, or jealous feeling in the pit of your stomach and instantly feel less than. We are all guilty of it. I am all too often guilty of it.
In this day and age of social media that has created “celebrities” of ordinary individuals, it is easier than ever to fall into this trap. I’m not saying the influencer culture is a bad thing; I think it’s great that we can have “normal” people to admire, people outside of the worldly glitz and drama of Hollywood and sports. But being privy to the best moments of so many people’s lives makes it dangerously easy to compare ourselves among ourselves. That person is prettier than me, they have a better job than me, they have a boyfriend but I don’t, their house is bigger than mine, they get to travel all the time, they get to have anything they want. Woe is me and my pathetic existence!
What does this benefit us?
It kills us slowly, from deep within our hearts. From that initial feeling a seed is planted, which grows into weeds of doubt, crippling insecurity, depression, even hate, and much more.
Not only is this unhealthy mentally, emotionally, and physically, but it’s spiritually sinful and dangerous. If you’ve gone to church for any amount of time, and even if you’ve never been before, chances are you know or have heard of the Ten Commandments. Number ten on the list is: Thou shalt not covet. AKA, don’t be jealous of others and what they have. Envy is even listed among the seven deadly sins in Proverbs 6. So why don’t we avoid this emotion like the plague?
In Luke 12:16 Jesus warned us, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” The sum total of our worth is not found in what we look like, our talents, our social status, financial success, or material possessions. It is found in the fact that we are God’s beloved child. This knowledge should be enough to make us want to stop the comparison game. But there’s even more that we can take into consideration.
Some have dubbed social media platforms--specifically Instagram--"highlight reels." This is a very appropriate moniker. We are only seeing these people’s best, most picture-worthy moments from a third-person, far-from-omniscient point of view. We see a snapshot or short video clip of a single moment in time. Not the whole story. We can’t see what emotional struggles or inner conflicts they deal with on a daily basis. We don’t know how hard they may have worked for the possessions they have, or how many heartbreaks they went through before finding that loving boyfriend or husband. We can’t see the overwhelming debt that came with that big house, the financial stress they weren’t wise enough to avoid...We can’t see the relationship problems they deal with at home...We can’t see the past mistakes they have to work to overcome.
When I find myself starting to compare myself to others, I am often reminded of this quote from one of my favorite book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, written by the talented C. S. Lewis.
“Child,” said the lion. “I am telling your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
~ The Horse and His Boy, C. S. Lewis
We would do well to remember these wise words from Aslan the Great Lion, the allegorical representation of Jesus in the Narnia books. I believe Lewis was echoing the voice of our Father when he penned those lines. At the end of the day, we can know no one’s full story but our own. And the pen to all our stories lies in the Master Storyteller’s hand.
We all have our own journey to walk. No one but God has walked the same path as us (for He goes with us every step of the way), and we all move along our paths at different speeds. We can’t compare our journey to that of another, because we aren’t living the same life. Since we are all unique with our own talents and God-given purposes, we all have to take unique paths to get to where we’re going. Every path has some similarities--we all are born, experience valleys and mountain top moments, navigate a few unexpected turns, and then pass into eternity. But the valleys, mountains, and twisting turns are located in different places. Just because we are stuck in a valley while that person on social media is living their best life on the mountaintop, doesn’t mean we won’t reach that height one day. It doesn’t mean that person won’t come down from that high place into a low and dark valley one day either.
How much happier and freer would we be if we got our eyes off other people’s journeys and focused on our own? What does that say to the Creator when we wish we had someone else’s story instead of the one He is writing for us? I can practically hear His heart breaking.
So many problems we deal with internally, and so many issues in this world, could be solved if we killed comparison instead of letting it kill us. So the next time you’re scrolling through your news feed and come across that girl who seems like she has everything, stop, look at that picture and tell yourself, “You know no one’s story but your own.” Then keep scrolling and feel the freedom that comes with it.