Have I mentioned I'm in the throes of writing a memoir? (I know - there's a lot happening in my world right now.) As I write and reflect on the stories of my life, there's a constant theme I keep running into: comparison.
I've taken big humbling gulps as I've uncovered the massive amount of time I've spent comparing myself to others.
I'm also finding grace for myself. How?
I'm watching my 7-year-old daughter struggle with the same thing.
Case in point - she wanted to wear a sparkly red dress with tights and shiny shoes to take a walk in the melting ice and snow the other day. Why?
Because she wanted to look fancy. For who?
Nobody in particular - it was just in case somebody saw her.
The temptation to compare ourselves to one another and the fear of man is so strong - even stronger than my desire to eat sugar right now. (Which after 10 days of going without it is getting pretty big.)
I did a little digging and learned the popular phrase "Keeping Up with the Joneses" dates back to a 1913 comic strip featuring the made up McGinis family who kept trying to prove themselves in comparison to their neighbors.
In my super-academic, data-based research on this (just kidding - I used Wikipedia), this comment about the comic stuck out to me:
"The Joneses were unseen characters throughout the strip's run, often spoken of but never shown."
Whaa? The Joneses weren't even drawn into the story!? Sounds like a few other invisible enemies I've heard of:
We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. (Eph 6:12 CEV)
Oh invisible enemy that hides in the shadows - I loathe you.
But I'm getting better at spotting you.
It's crazy to me how being together is imperative; we need it more than we know - however it's also how the sneaky enemy likes to find a way in. He distorts our vulnerability and openness with each other.
It only takes an instant for the well-intentioned sharing about achievements, vacation pictures, new relationships and yummy Instgrammed lunches to turn into a comparison game.
Anybody know what I'm talking about?
When I started the 45 Day Challenge of not eating sugar, it felt like something bigger awaited me in addition to learning self-control over my donut, candy and cookie consumption.
Today I felt the challenge of not only avoiding sugar, but of getting real with this comparison thing that's rooted deep in my heart and of course, I had to share it with you.
I'd love to tell you I don't have it - but I do.
I'd love to tell you because I feel victorious over it today, I won't struggle with it tomorrow - but I might.
It's like my mind hits "reset" every single night and unless I renew it in the morning with what God says about me, I struggle to remember there's another way to live.
But there is - I've experienced it and I'm learning it.
It's a way that blocks out the desire to compare against the "Joneses" (or anyone else for that matter).
A way that understands being human means I'm going to struggle but being unconditionally loved means I'm accepted anyway. I don't have to compare anymore.
I actually kicked off this morning with a Facebook Live video about this - take a look.