Sometimes, I just need to write. Sometimes, it presses on me so heavily that I can’t focus on much else. Yet, often, like earlier this evening, when I finally have space in my day to write – I come up empty.
I will sit, like I just did, for about 30 minutes — staring at a flashing curser on a blank white page.
I stepped away and threw out a quick prayer, and a little self-assessment “God, what is it? What can I share, what things am I facing? Should I share about the place I am in? Or maybe I just don’t have anything useful to share? That’s probably true. In comparison to the millions of brilliant things written every day, by real writers, maybe I am just not meant to say anything, God? Do you think?”
And of course He did not think highly of my self assessment. In my mind’s eye, I see Him wrinkle an eyebrow, and shake His head. In my heart, I feel Him say “what do other writers or their words or their writings have to do with you?”
“But, come on, God..compared to them..”
There it is. The brilliance born of 30 minutes staring at a curser, and doubting myself, had brought me to this word: comparison.
I have been to enough motivational talks to have heard that comparison is the thief of joy, that comparison robs you of your potential, and that comparison keeps you from living your best life.
All good, reasonable theories.
Is that what happened to me today? Maybe.
It isn’t just in writing, it is in so many facets of my life — I see others who have thriving marriages, and great relationships with their kids. I see coworkers moving forward and up and achieving success and sometimes I feel backwards, down, and stuck. I compare. And yes, I don’t feel I measure up.
But I would like to propose another idea.
I am not sure it is the comparison that is the issue. To suggest we find a way to never compare ourselves, our lives, or our achievements, to others, is hogwash. Actually, it’s like my telling you right now not to think about washing a hog and you trying not to. Impossible. Right?
I think what robs us of joy, keeps us from our potential and our best life is, not the comparison, but what we do with the results of our comparison.
It’s the old “bitter or better?”
Or even, maybe bitter, better, or bigger?
How do we ever learn, expand, grow or find drive, desire, goals, or the heights we want to reach, if we never look at those who are doing well, doing things better? Netting better results.
If we compare and come up short and say “I want to be better. Like they are. Because that IS a better life and way. And then I want to make my dreams and goals even bigger!” then we take comparison and we use it as the fuel it is intended to be.
If we compare and come up short and say “Well, I am terrible. I will never be enough. I give up. And actually, how come they have everything? I hate that. I hope they fall apart. And fall in a hole.” Well, then, we have taken comparison and turned it into what it was never meant to be: bitterness. Bitterness fuels nothing.
Here is where I landed: we are all driving down the highway of life. We are all going to stop by the Comparison Station when our fuel is low. You can either fill your tank with “a desire for better” and be propelled forward, or you fill up with bitterness. Bitterness is the sludge that clogs your engine, leaving you stalled and stranded right where you didn’t want to be in the first place.
I want more. I see people around me living better, loving better, working better. I’ve compared and come up short. I want to keep driving. I want to see how they’re doing it, and follow suite. Then I want to do it bigger.
Comparison was never our enemy, not the thief, bitterness was.
I don’t want a bitter life. I want a better one.
Tomorrow, you will compare yourself and your life to those around you. It’s silly to say you won’t. The question is, do you want comparison to take you to the bitter life or the better one?
It is a choice.
Choose well, my friends.