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Crosswalk Blog

The Comparing Game

Hope everyone is handling the heat well! With no AC in my apartment, I splash water on my head. So when I visit my parents or my college friends and see their pools, I feel the envy inside.

As a young graduate living in the Silicon Valley, the easiest thing to do is play the comparison game.  I think we all relate. My close friends recently bought a house at the age of 23, the same people who recently created their own start up tech firm. And that is only one example out of the many we see around us.

And it is not just stuff. They say that people are after some combination of three things: status, acceptance, and power. You know, those people who flaunt their job titles, accomplishments, number of Facebook friends, etc.

When I compare myself to those around me, I realize how little I have done; which creates a sense of envy, jealousy, and ultimately failure. Or maybe we fail our own standards. I remember being in college and creating this laundry list of unrealistic dreams to finish by 22. Needless to say, I’ve done one out of the twenty things I wanted, and at 23.

So how do we avoid playing the comparison game? Few things that help me:

Romans 3:23- “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is kind of a cliché verse, but most people that place their worth in comparing themselves to others (whether through power, status, or acceptance), often forget that no matter how good we are, it is not enough. Christianity is kind of a downer in this regards. To God, a poor, young adult like me is seen the same way as a wealthy land owner.

Galatians 1:10- “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?… If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” God looks at our hearts, not our money or prestige. While man looks at outward things as measures of success, God looks to the spiritual fruit—the internal conformity to Christ.

Ultimately, it is okay to struggle with the emotional parts. Sometimes we feel like we work hard and deserve more than we have. Other times we grow upset when it looks like God rewards dishonest work. Maybe I’m just a whiner, but I think that wrestling through prayer and relationship is okay. It helps us understand ourselves and others through a kingdom perspective.

In the Catholic tradition, comparison to others can lead to envy and wrath. The ‘cures’ are to see others with compassion rather than jealousy and to have patience in wrestling with a Godly perspective.

Of course, it is way easier said than done. But I hope we can be honest with ourselves about how we feel, and to ask God to begin changing our earthly perspectives. I pray that we can share these things in community and support one another through the difficult journey.

Hope to see you all soon!
-Stephen