Escaping The Trap of Comparison
Two weeks of law school in the books (literally) and I’ve already discovered how easy it is to get caught in a trap of comparison. Law school is filled with high-achievers who like to talk about what they’ve done, what they’re doing, or what they’re going to do. There’s this constant feeling of “if I’m not ahead, I’m behind” and it seems like everyone is always doing more than you are. I’ve already had to catch myself from getting tangled in a trap of constant worry that I'm not doing enough.
And this isn’t just in law school- we fall into this trap of comparison all the time. We look to those around us to set the standard for where we should be and what our lives should look like, instead of looking to Jesus and following His example.
Ultimately, the only person we should be comparing ourselves to is Christ. Are we striving to love like Him and serve like Him? If we can answer yes to those two questions, then we’re striving for a life of purpose that’s going to completely shatter the world’s definition of achievement and success. In the purest form, when we are finding ways to love and serve others, we are living into our calling- one that will manifest differently in each of our lives.
It’s so hard not to look on social media at that perfect Christian couple, the girl with the coolest job ever, that impeccably curated blog, or the girl with a zillion followers and perfect candid photos, and not think “why doesn’t my life look like that right now??” And just like that, the thief of comparison steals our joy, because suddenly we feel like we’re lacking instead of trusting that God has given us exactly what we need.
We can’t live into the identities God has for each of us individually if we’re trying to follow someone else’s instruction manual. Their journey isn’t yours, their life isn’t yours, their way of dealing with work, stress, fear, struggle, etc. isn’t yours. Put simply, their story wasn’t meant to be yours and vice-versa.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made, pieced together with purpose that is yours and yours alone. Life would be so boring if we were all supposed to check off all of the same boxes on the same timeline, instead of living out a story that is uniquely and beautifully our own.
When I find myself caught in the trap of comparison, I pray and talk it out with God. I’ve found that looking around me is never as helpful as looking up. Intentionally giving thanks when I'm filled with fear, frustration, and stress is when it’s most difficult, but usually when it’s the most effective. Here’s kind of a general prayer to get you started if you're struggling to find the words, but just speak from the heart.
Lord, thank you for this place in life that you’ve put me in to learn from and be able to love in. Continue to reveal your plan for me, even if it’s one step at at time, and show me how I can use my strengths and talents to be your hands and feet. Thank you for my weaknesses that keep me humble and reliant on you. Thank you for not holding me to a standard of achievement, but to a standard of grace. I praise you for the success and happiness of others, knowing that your plan for me is just as perfectly woven.
Ashley Hawkins // @ayyhawk