Theodore Roosevelt is thought to have said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and boy, was he right. We tend to compare our worst to another person’s best, and we come out poorly. We compare another person’s smile with our inward sadness, and we hide in shame. We compare our body to another person’s fitter one, and our joy shrinks. We compare what we imagine another person’s life to be like with our known reality, and we grieve. We compare ourselves with others, and our hope melts, our sense of value dissipating like the mist.
Comparison is a problem.
It is easy to believe that someone else’s life is better than our own and that if we only had “fill in the blank” we would be happy. Judging another’s green field of a life from the view of our dusty brown patch is tempting, but comparison is a faulty lens. Letting our imaginations run away with us through unhealthy and untrustworthy comparisons steals our joy rather than increasing it.
We may choose to “jump the fence” of our lives through myriad means, but ultimately we will return and find our hurting and unsatisfied places are still waiting for us to tend them. But here’s the good news: oftentimes that longing deep inside our hearts for something better is an invitation from God to bring further healing in those hurting and unsatisfied places. It is our lives’ own grass that God wants us to be able to enjoy as green, and to get there we must spend some time taking care of it. Until we do, our hearts will continue to clamor for soothing. We need to learn—I need to learn—that the clamoring isn’t the problem. It is, in fact, the calling card of grace.