Comparison brings death to the soul, but there is a way…

Sandro Botticelli Adoration of the Magi

Four times this week, I have been in conversation with different people who have expressed inadequacy in their lives.This from people I love, respect and think are wonderful people.

“When I see what so-and-so is doing, I feel that I fall so short.”

“I think I am disappointing so many people–I can’t seem to call everyone back, respond to emails, get all the housework done, be patient, and and and…, I always feel like I am falling short.”

“My children seem to fight all the time. I just can’t seem to manage them like other people do.”

“I am such a failure in my marriage.”

Even my children have felt this way lately.

“Seems all the people who are immoral get the parts in movies and television and I just keep plodding along with no special favor.”

“Compared to all of the other professional musicians around, I am not up to snuff.”

“Mom, do you think she has more skills than I do? Will you be disappointed in me if I don’t do as well as I thought?”

Comparing ourselves to others is epidemic. Comparison will always, always be destructive. We will either find ourselves falling short of others, and that will cultivate self-condemnation. Or, we will find ourselves better than others and that will bring pride.

Proverbs tells us that, “The fear of man brings a snare.”

When we look to others as the standard by which we should live, we make them idols. They become the standard by which we think we should live instead of living by grace and freedom in Christ. When we look to others for our affirmation, we will never find enough affirmation. There will always be someone better, prettier, more successful, wiser, ………

How grateful I am that Jesus shows no favoritism. He reached out to the unlovely, the unpopular, the meek: children, prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, Roman soldiers, bleeding women–women! He lifted them up and gave them worth. Maybe he did show favoritism afterall–to the broken, the humble, those who had no illusions about themselves–those who appropriately realized that they needed a savior.

Jesus said, “I am humble and meek. Learn from me.”

I love coming into His presence. I am usually wrinkled in my pajama’s, sleep breath, no make up, tossled hair, vulnerable–(I am naturally a fearful person.) But I light my candle, have my tea, and in His presence I find love and acceptance and hope. He made me. He knows me and as Psalm 103, “He is mindful that I am but dust.” But I am a part of His family. I came from Him–his very own Spirit, He formed me in my mother’s womb. He will always be loyal and accept me because I am a part of His very being in this world.

In His presence, I am adequate, because He saved me so that I could be in His presence without pretense or performance.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Not come to me all who are perfect, have arrived, have accomplished enough.

If I am acceptable to the Lord of Hosts, the king of the whole universe, then I need not compare myself to others. As a matter of fact, it is the only way I am acceptable to Him, if I don’t try to come to Him on my merit, because I will always come up short.

I love the story of the little drummer boy that I listened to at Christmas time as a little girl. The scene I pictured as a little girl was the traditional manger scene of Jesus. Humble shepherds, keeping watch in the fields, heard the angels and sought the baby who had been born King of the Jews. Yet, there were the great “seers” from the far East. Seems that the wise men all dressed in silks, satins, velvets, adorned with gold, frankincense and myrrh also approached  the manger where baby Jesus was born. These magnificent kings came with an auspicious entourage of servants, camels, baggage, fine jewelry and gifts.

However, the poor shepherd boy, had no possessions–nothing to give to this servant, come from heaven, nothing to compare to the finery of the wealthy, learned men. As he pondered what to do, he realized he could play for baby Jesus on the rude drum that he highly valued. And so the young boy, humble, uneducated, with no title prowess, approached the crib–and he played with all of his heart.

“I played my drum for him, parumpapumpum. I played my best for him, parumpapumpum.”

So to honor the Lord Jesus, the little drummer boy gave what he had and gave  his heart of love with His gift.

And so that was what Jesus wanted–the boy’s love, the boy’s admiration and willing heart.

Now that is something I can give wholeheartedly–myself, my love, my faith and gratefulness. I may not give perfection, or maturity, or prowess, but I can give him my little girl heart. The heart that sees His beauty, His unconditional love, the freedom he gives me to be me, just as I am. And that makes me respond with such love, appreciation, such grace. How very grateful I am that Jesus does not compare me to anyone else. He is my justification. He is my badge of honor.

Even the way our precious savior came, as one of us, the common kind, “with no stately form or majesty,” shows us his preference. If we are to be pleasing and adequate, it must be with Him as our sole audience, the only one who can give us approval that will satisfy our souls.

So, this Christmas, may I give Him the gift of my adoration, not because I will ever be enough, but because He is my all in all.

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  1. says

    Wow! I’m sitting here saying to myself, “Now, I remember why I use to go to Sally’s conferences!” Sally, your writing and your speaking bring life to my soul! I love your heart, your love for Jesus, and your desire to bring him glory…you certainly are doing just that! Lots of love :o)

  2. says

    Thank you Sally. Over the past few years, God has been freeing me from comparison, but yesterday….

    Yesterday was discouraging. So to read this today…is just what I needed. I really appreciate you and your words. You have encouraged and inspired me immensely.

  3. Cheryl Hollifield says

    So funny that you posted this today, because in my own little quiet time – where lately my brain seems to take over with runaway thoughts – I was thinking of how you and Karen Andreola were the first two ladies I ever heard talk about the Charlotte Mason Method. I was so enamored. I think I just realized this morning that always in the back of my mind I have compared my self to you and her all these years! “Lord, help me! I’ll never measure up to them” – I thought. I don’t really think I realized I was actually doing that until today… Yuck. So sorry. Thank you for your timely message and being such a beacon of hope! Love, Cheryl

  4. Brandee says

    Hi Sally,
    Thank you for your God inspired words today. I always learn something or am encouraged when I read your blog. I wouldn’t miss your upcoming Mom Heart Conference in January for anything! It fills me up to be around like minded women and more than that, women after God’s own heart. And you are definately a woman after God’s own heart. I hope that more women will be encouraged and continue to come to your conferences and events throughout the year!

  5. says

    I can’t tell you how many times I remind myself, “He knows I am but dust”. :)

    That is all I am without Him. Just dust. His indwelling gives the value.

    It is a lesson I am still learning, that He wants my being instead of just my doing. I always find something to think about and to rejoice over here. :)

  6. Marian says

    Dear Sally,
    The little drummer boy has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl! I love that he gave to Jesus all that he had in his humble drum-playing. Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum!!!

  7. says

    I am guilty of falling into the comparison trap again and again. This post is perfectly timed! This time of year it’s so easy to see what we aren’t doing as well as someone else. But I’ve been trying to find rest and focus on the waiting and anticipation of Jesus’ birth. I want to teach my kids this lesson too. Thanks, Sally, for your thoughts!

  8. says

    I loved this, “When we look to others for our affirmation, we will never find enough affirmation.”

    It reminds me of the story awhile back –was it Sandra Bullock?– who is a movie star–beautiful, smart, talented– at the peek of her career and was cheated on by her husband. Not to be morbid on such a wonderful post (life is messy and all), but it reminded me that even who we perceive as the “best of the best” are working on measuring up. In Christ, we can stop striving; we can just be in Him. So many women struggle in difficult marriages, and these words, these truths can be Life to them.


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