As a student, I know first-hand how easy it is to quickly become a senseless social media procrastinator. Studying is so much less appealing than watching videos that people post, keeping up with friends’ activities, nostalgically thumbing through old pictures, and yes, occasionally stalking a random high school friend. When life feels particularly monotonous, it’s easy to gravitate towards others’ adventures.
But at some point in that excitement, and without even being aware of it, I begin comparing. Sometimes it makes me feel great about myself, other times it uncovers all of my insecurities.
Steven Furtick says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Our everyday isn’t ‘good enough,’ so we put up a façade to compensate. But the problem with comparison is that it sneaks up on us. It’s subtle because that’s how the enemy works. And before we know it, it manifests as a worsening symptom.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:16
By definition, jealousy is the emotion attached to the feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of status or something of great personal value, particularly human connection. If we are not careful, comparison puts us on the straight and narrow path towards jealousy. And as described, jealousy is an enemy to connection, an inducer of fear, and according to James, it is the seed in which every dreadful practice can grow.
Jealousy is destructive because it keeps the focus on our accomplishments, our shortcoming, our physical physique, our social status, our past, our future, and so much more. Unchecked, it will create an anxiety filled, emotional, up-and-down roller coaster way of living. One riddled with uncertainty, indecision, pride, and discontentment.
In spite of the consequences, we still compare. We believe the lie that our personal worth is based on how we stack up to other people. It’s been engrained in us. This lie tells us that one person’s gain is our loss. And If we are better than most, if we feel more important, connected, or successful - we also feel seen, cherished, valued, and loved. It directly inhibits us from enjoying our own journey.
Where does that leave us?
Enjoying the journey is a charge to enjoy the specific journey that God has placed out before each one of us. We serve a God that knows us individually and fully. He has wired us uniquely, with different skills and passions. You were not meant to chase someone else’s journey, no matter how appealing their “highlight reel” may be. Our Father knows what we delight in and what is beneficial for us. And above all, He CHERISHES YOU. You don’t have to prove yourself. You don’t have to be afraid of your plans not working out like you hoped. You don’t have to dread the future or failure. You don’t have to compare yourself to your friends or your old self or your future self. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God did not make a mistake when He formed you. And there is no decision you can make that will keep God from bringing about His plans for you.
That journey is personalized, freeing, fulfilling, and something that we can only find in the heart of our Creator. When comparison is at the forefront, our minds are consumed with thoughts about us. Enjoying the journey, however, is celebrating the wisdom and provision of God over our lives. As #ETJers, we must be mindful of the REALITY that there is not one spot in this world that God does not claim dominion over. We have the privilege of setting our hope on true fulfillment – the glory of God that is all around us when we take a moment to open our eyes. It’s a charge for celebration; regardless of the season you’re in - you get to truly enjoy your journey.