“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” ~ Hebrews 13:5
Yesterday I talked about the dangers involved in playing the comparison game. I outlined how comparison takes you down a disparaging path. Comparison. Discontentment. Pride. Self entitlement. Anger. Resentment. Fighting. At the bottom of the path, you encounter a complete loss of joy. I used an example from my own marriage to show how this works. If you are interested in learning more on this subject, click HERE. Today I again want to talk about comparison, but this time I want us to look at the flip side. How comparison can actually be healthy.
If performed correctly, comparison can shift our focus from ourselves back to God. It can restore a broken heart. It can lead to greater contentment and genuine thankfulness. It can help heal a marriage. Does anyone remember the childhood movie Pollyanna? In it Pollyanna often played the “Glad Game” where she found something to be happy about despite the darkest circumstances. A healthy comparison game works much the same way. You ignore the imperfections and focus on the positive elements. You compare whatever to something or someone that is not nearly as good as what you have. You learn to be thankful to God for what you have and the imperfections seem so much smaller. To bring this closer to home, let me give you a few examples from my life.
Yesterday I compared my husband to a friend’s who does a lot of work around the house. Since mine does not, it would be easy to become discontented. Instead of doing that, I will compare my husband to friends’, family members’ and coworkers’ husbands. He works to support me (some of their husbands do not). He doesn’t take on extra hours at work because he’s anxious to return to his family and do things together. He doesn’t push me to lose weight but accepts me as I am. He doesn’t want me to be different than who I am. He doesn’t flirt with other women. He doesn’t try to keep me from my family. He doesn’t yell at me ever (not once in ten years of marriage). He doesn’t make fun of me in public to try and make himself look better. He doesn’t try to keep me away from church, from reading my Bible, from praying to my God. He remains sexually faithful to the commitment we made before God. There are many other wonderful things he does (and doesn’t do), but this is just a few — enough that you get the idea. When I start to compare my husband to other men’s shortcomings, I become so very grateful. Grateful to him for his choice of courtesy and grateful to God for the gift of this man. Yes, he still has weaknesses and failures, but in shifting my focus to comparison, those things no longer seem so big.
Comparison doesn’t need to be limited to relationships. It can extend to jobs, houses, anything. For example: Yes, I am so tired and worn out from my job EVERY single night, and the responsibilities weigh HEAVILY on me. As a library branch manager, I am responsible for my staff, my building, our services, and some days there just isn’t enough of me to go around. But let’s compare. I don’t leave the house every morning at 5 am (like local factory workers do). I have the flexibility to change my schedule if something comes up. I am able to use my public job to spread the Gospel of Jesus, and I have seen some miraculous life transformations! My job pays for the roof over my head. My job pays for food to eat. My job is not causing deteriorating health conditions (like some jobs do). I am free to be honest, ethical, and morally upright in my job (I had one job where my boss tried to get me to steal, plagiarize, and lie). I no longer work in a position where I stand all day, so I no longer have sore feet and blisters. I get to plan programs that my family and friends enjoy, allowing me to see them at work occasionally. When I start looking at the positives, I find the irritation over schedules, payrolls, taxes drifting away. Instead I find that my attitude starts to shift and I see my job as a blessing. I become grateful to God, the Giver of Blessings, who has blessed me exceedingly!
Through comparison, the focus shifts from myself and I start to see the good in things. I remember why I am so blessed, and I can stop and give glory to God. As the Scripture says, I become “content with such things as I have” and I remember to focus my attention on the One who will “never leave me or forsake me.” And truly, even the darkest days start to look a little more rosy! The first step in this change? Comparison! Yes, I’d say this is the positive side, the way to win at the comparison game!
What about you? What comparisons were you able to make that made you shift your focus back to God?