I plopped down on my couch with a freshly washed face and brushed teeth. I looked up at my kitchen sink, proud that after a long but productive day at work, quick trip to the gym, and a successful home-cooked dinner, I still managed to tidy up the kitchen. The empty kitchen sink and decluttered counters were true symbols of #winning for this #neatfreak. Marie Kondo would be proud. Then my eyes moved slightly to the left to find the microwave clock reminding me it was already fast approaching 10pm. I sighed. I didn’t have enough time to turn on Netflix before bed.
So, I grabbed the next best device for winding down after a full day- my phone. After a few minutes of Instagram scrolling, I paused at a post from an acquaintance of mine. In the photo, her outfit was on point, her smile beaming, and her hair left me praying, “Dear Jesus, how does hair get that much shine and volume?!” Her comment below announced an exciting few months ahead of travel, adventure, and opportunity.
I like a lot of posts. Like a lot of posts. It doesn’t take much to get a double click out of me. Those who know me can attest to my passion for encouraging others. Affirming and cheering on people is kinda my thing.
But this time, with this post, I hesitated. It took me a good 90 seconds of staring at my colleague’s post before I willed my thumb to press down on the oh-so-familiar heart icon.
I had to force myself to digitally applaud this woman whom I had every logical reason in the world to support, but for some emotional reason, simply didn’t want to.
I sighed again, headed upstairs, and put my phone away. As I tucked myself under my covers, my encounter with the post I begrudgingly liked gnawed at my conscience.
I thought to myself, “I’m not like this. I’m not one of those women who doesn’t cheer on other women. Why was it so hard to double-click on one simple post???”
My thoughts drifted to John 21, a passage of scripture where the resurrected Jesus restored Peter after his denial of Jesus before the crucifixion. It’s a profound and pivotal moment in Peter’s story, one where the grace of Jesus propelled Peter to become the leader He was destined to be. It’s also a sobering event in Peter’s life, as Jesus reveals to Him that he will suffer greatly for the Kingdom of God. Immediately following this news, Peter pointed to his comrade and fellow disciple John, and asked Jesus, “What’s going to happen to him?”
It dawned on me- isn’t that like us all? Upon realizing our own destiny will be filled with highs and lows, great purpose and also great challenges, we tend to look around to compare our suffering with those of our peers. If we have to endure, than we want to make sure the people around us will have to as well. Before we can be content with our call, we assess how it measures against others’.
When those around us seem to get a lot assigned to them that is easier or more exciting than our peers, we feel unjustly treated by God. Like little children watching another play with the toy we want, we find ourselves fighting the urge to snatch it away and often revert to throwing our own tantrums we conveniently call ‘prayers’, frustrated and crying out to God, “When will it be my turn?!”
In 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV), Paul with a maturity that challenges this limited way of thinking, wrote, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
In the game of comparison, we never win. If we insist on looking to others to validate our season, achievements or circumstances, we will never find what we are searching for. Instead, we lose more than our ability to easily double-click on a post; we lose our courage, our contentment, and our joy.
Those few minutes on my couch began as an entertaining scroll through Instagram, but quickly turned into an unfortunate run-in with comparison. I realized that my reluctance to like another’s post had less to do with the woman in the photo and more to do with the woman staring at it. My challenges with liking her post only revealed my own challenges to like my present moment. Don’t get me wrong; I love my life- my husband, my work, my church, my family, my community. When I take time to count the blessings I have from God, I am overwhelmingly grateful.
I enjoy my life, but sometimes I fail to enjoy my present moment.
My present moment is not as easy to love with hair I should have washed but haven’t, with gray hairs growing in that need to be dyed but aren’t, with old pajamas I should have thrown away a long time ago but haven’t, with no makeup on and circles under my eyes, with problems to solve at work and errands to run at home, with uncompleted projects and looming deadlines waiting for me tomorrow, with a microwave clock reminding me it’s time to go to bed when all I want to do is eat popcorn and watch a movie.
Well, of course, my present moment fell short in comparison to the woman’s post.
Ironically, at the very same time I hesitated to like her post, she could have been sitting on her couch with her appearance just as disheveled and her to-do list just as long as mine. Or maybe not. The point is I’ll never know.
Since I will never know the full scope of another’s story, all I can do is focus on my own. Joy can never be found in comparison to another life; it must be captured in my own, lived in surrender to and pursuit of Jesus. Instead of fixing my eyes on another, I can find all the contentment, hope, courage and above all uncontainable joy by, as the author in Hebrews 12 so eloquently put, “fastening my gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within me and who leads me forward into faith’s perfection.” (Hebrews 12:2 TPT)
And so last night, in my bed, I fixed my gaze away from my phone and towards Jesus. I repented of the momentary game of comparison I had dabbled in. I thanked Jesus not just for the big things in my life that are easier to love, but for the little things- the unpolished, unfiltered and at time messy components of my present moment.