When I was a kid, I expected to someday be able to do everything I wanted. At various points during my childhood, I made plans to eventually have a big family or run for president or become a doctor. I would know all the right answers, have time to complete everything on my bucket list, and generally lead an all-around fulfilling life.
Even as a teenager, I still had adulthood to look forward to. The years ahead seemed almost limitless. But now in my 30s, it’s an inescapable fact: I will not do everything that as a child I naively assumed I would do. Even with adjusted expectations, I won’t experience everything my adult self would like.
When our blissfully ignorant dreams collide with reality, it’s easy to look at the people around us who seem to have everything we don’t. Cases in point: I have friends my age who have been married for over a decade and are homeschooling multiple children. I have younger family members with way more career experience than I have.
And that’s just the big stuff. There are countless other ways I compare my progress — or lack of it — with others.
Why are her social skills so much better than mine?
Why is he much more fun to be around?
Why is everyone better than I at finding friends?
Why am I the one feeling stuck?
Why can’t I experience marriage and children like so many others?
What comparison says about me
Maybe there are no stupid questions. But there are a few that miss the point.
My parents used to tell my brother and me that whenever we (figuratively) point a finger at someone else, we have three fingers pointing back at us. Comparison is a little bit like that. We envy others for the blessings they’ve been given while ignoring how God blesses us each hour.
I tally up the couples and families around me, overlooking the relationships with family members and friends that I enjoy every day. I listen to mothers talk about time with their little ones and I forget the fascinating conversations or uplifting free time I enjoyed just days before.
Yes, God has certainly blessed the people around me. But He has blessed me, too.
What we can say instead
Paul wrote to Timothy that Scripture is profitable for preparing God’s people for every good work. God’s Word is more than sufficient to give us the shot in the arm we need when we are distracted by the pain of what we don’t have. Instead of jotting down comparisons, here are a few truths to focus on.
God knows each one of us. There is something so mind-blowing about how personal God is. As David wrote, “This I know: God is for me.” David didn’t write that God is for His people as a group, although He is. He wasn’t writing generically about God’s disposition toward His entire creation. David wrote that God is for me. For you. No matter what our feelings tell us, God is for us. He sees our hearts, our pain, and our hopes. Just knowing that He sees and cares brings peace.
God’s riches have no limit. No room for a scarcity mindset here. Our God is fully able to do anything, and everything in the universe belongs to Him. If there is something I don’t have, it’s not because He has given it to someone else and somehow ran out before it was my turn. There is a reason for what I lack, and He is more than capable of fulfilling my desires if He chooses.
God has already sealed His love with the greatest gift. In Romans, Paul wrote that we can trust that God will give us all things because He already gave us His Son. He took care of our greatest need at the greatest cost to himself. Whatever we don’t have now, we can bank on the assurance that there is nothing too good for God to give us.
One big truth
When I searched for “compare” in the Bible, I found Psalms pointing to the futility of comparing God with anything. “Who is mighty as you are, O Lord,” David wrote, “with your faithfulness all around you?”
What an unfathomable mystery that this God — the one enthroned over the entire world, the one who knows all things and plans all things — chose to make himself known to us. This is the God that is for us, who keeps His promises to us, who only does us good.
There are still earthly realities I hope to have one day. I still feel the sting of missing out when I look at what others have received, and there are so many ways I don’t measure up. But despite what I lack, I know that my God sees me, blesses me in many other ways, and will only give what is good to me — and to all His children.
Peter wrote that angels long to look into what God has done for us. We miss the wonder of that when we’re too busy comparing notes on current life details.
How those angels must marvel at our nearsightedness. We hold all the riches we’ve been given yet pout about the trinkets we don’t have. We scurry around wishing we had this or that temporary circumstance, all the while forgetting to look up at the incomparable glory we will have — and already have glimpses and echoes of — for all eternity. There will be no comparing anything with that.