I should confess something.
I’m an idolater. I covet stuff that’s not mine. I get envious of other people’s blessings. I indulge in self-pity far more often than I’d like to admit, convincing myself that I’m a victim of life. I compare and contrast until it makes me depressed, bitter and full of resentment.
I’m working on this. I’ve actually gotten a lot better about this stuff over the last few years, but it’s still a struggle sometimes.
But God keeps teaching me lessons about compassion. He keeps reminding me that life is hard for everybody. EVERYBODY. Every single person on this planet is under pressure.
People feel chronic stress the same way and suffer the same psychological and physiological effects regardless of whether that stress comes from overworking yourself to maintain an upper class lifestyle or taking on too many commitments trying to please all of the people or mothering multiple small children and being chronically sleep-deprived and literally having no time for yourself or struggling with infertility and daily fighting to take control of your own body and grieving lost pregnancies and mourning lost dreams or working multiple jobs and living paycheck to paycheck or living in a third-world hut and having to hike miles and miles just to get potable water to drink.
Wherever you fall in there, life is hard–not all the time, not every single moment of every single day–but sometimes, maybe more often than you’d like. And hard is hard no matter what it looks like. And people deserve compassion and kindness whether they wear a power suit and sit behind a desk in a high-rise office or they wear a nametag and a hairnet to work or they never change out of yoga pants and feel overwhelmed with ALL THE LAUNDRY or they wear tattered rags and sleep on a dirt floor or in a cardboard box.
People are people. Hard is hard. Stress is stressful no matter where it’s coming from, and pain is pain regardless of the cause, and it HURTS. And we are all–every single one of us–just doing the best we can to survive and to find reasons to hang in there and be joyful.
Your hard is valid. So is your neighbor’s. So is that Supermom’s whose Instagram feed looks like some kind of professionally photographed fairytale who makes you feel like your life doesn’t measure up. Guess what? Hers doesn’t, either. Not really. So there’s no use in comparing.
So when I start to play the comparison game, when I start to covet, when I feel my eye starting to turn evil because the Lord dared to be good to someone else while I’m still waiting for my prayers to be answered, I stop. I repent. I open up my gratitude journal and start listing all of the reasons I have to be joyful. I give my hard stuff to God and thank Him for the things on the list. I get my eyes off of myself and onto Jesus.
If you want to play the comparison game, compare your life to the one He lived. Nobody’s hard will EVER be harder than the hard He endured. And He did it willingly so that we could give all of our hard to Him and let Him carry it for us.
“Incline my heart to your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes
From looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.”