Everywhere I look I see traps and snares.
- The Food Trap: the baked goods window at Starbucks that tells me I deserve a treat.
- The Lust Trap: the scantily clad girl on just about every commercial on television who shows too much skin or just enough to make me want to see more.
- The Kid Trap: the temptation to find my value or significance in my kid’s academic, athletic or social performance.
- The People-Pleasing Trap: the tendency to do everything ‘with excellence’ because I care way too much about what others think of me.
But one trap exists that seems to get me the best of me these days: The Comparison Trap. This pesky trap attacks me on multiple fronts: someone else’s blog following and Facebook likes, a friend’s newer and nicer car, or a co-worker’s summer vacation plans.
How about you? I believe we’re all surrounded by traps. And, most, if not all, of us suffer from the Comparison Trap.
In Join the Journey, we just finished reading through the Book of Psalms in the month of June. I enjoyed a slow, intentional read through the Psalms. Throughout the book, I noticed the Psalmists often referenced not wanting to get caught in snares or traps. In particular, Psalm 141:9 says, “Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers!” Psalm 141:4 introduces us to the evildoers who lay schemes (traps and snares) to harm the faithful (ESV Study Bible Online).
We are all surrounded by traps and snares. Sometimes we get caught, other times we escape. Regardless, I BELIEVE I should be over this by now. I KNOW I never win the comparison game. Fighting the comparison battle is exhausting.
How can we win the battle against the Comparison Trap?
Recently at our Merge premarital weekend class, my friend Ethan Pope spoke about finances and stewardship. One of his main points addressed the idea of comparison and the Comparison Trap: Never compare yourself to others or social media/advertisements.
Fortunately Ethan didn’t leave us hanging. He proceeded to share how to win the battle against the Comparison Trap.
1. Keep your eyes off other people’s stuff.
My car is GREAT until I see someone else’s car. Our summer plans are incredible until I compare them to someone else’s plans. The more I focus on and lust after other people’s stuff, the more I lose the comparison game.
Rather, what if I chose to be thankful for my stuff (or even gave it away to someone who needs it more)? Be generous. Choose to celebrate someone else’s resources instead of lamenting over my own.
Check out Globalrichlist.com – you will quickly realize how RICH you already are instead of dwelling on what other people own.
2. Meditate on and memorize God’s Word.
Let God’s Word transform your life and give you a purpose that is far more important than stockpiling things. In Luke 12:15, Jesus says, “…Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Let God’s Word transform your life, change you, and change your focus (Romans 12:2).
I need to be reminded of this truth, that the one with the most toys does not win in the end, and that God’s Word transforms me and my life. Focusing on God’s Word keeps my eyes and my heart focused on the right things.
I have quoted Proverbs 13:20 many times on this blog: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” When I isolate, I still focus on other’s stuff, but I don’t have the community around me to help me rightly process my compariSIN.
4. Know your vices.
I love this one. One of my vices is food. It’s not wise for this food addict to walk into a donut shop with a credit card all by myself. It’s not wise for me to look at movies on Netflix all by myself. Similarly, it’s not wise for me to walk into Best Buy after using a friend’s iPhone 6+.
We all need to know our vices and walk accordingly.
Side Note: Sometimes comparison can provide us the kick in the pants we need from others. Watching other parents lead their kids well or other friends memorize scripture or share their faith with non-Christians spurs me on to up my game! As long as I am motivated and convicted rather than spurred on by shame, then comparison with others can be a good thing!
So now what?
I do not want to get caught in the Comparison Trap. When I keep my eyes off other people’s stuff, meditate on and memorize God’s Word, avoid isolation and know my vices, I actively position myself to lean on God and avoid the Comparison Trap.
I love how Ethan ended his talk. He said that if you apply these principles, three things will happen. You will be:
- generous in giving
- consistent in saving, and
- free in your spending.
Give me some of that and spare me from the Comparison Trap.
- What are some traps you often get caught in (i.e. Lust, People-pleasing)?
- What are some specific ways you compare yourself with others (in a negative way)?
- Which of the four ways shared by Ethan can help you make some progress in the battle against the Comparison Trap?
Photo Credit: Flickr, Daryl_Mitchell (edited by me).