I believe there are many things that can steal our joy. Comparing ourselves to other people is a big one that I think we’re all guilty of at one time or another.
In 2 Corinthians 10:12 Paul says that people who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves among themselves are not wise. Unfortunately, it’s very human to compare ourselves to others.
Years ago a good friend of mine shared with me the exhortation, “Don’t compare your insides with my outsides!”
When you think of it, that’s really what we’re doing when we compare ourselves to someone else. We are only seeing what’s on their outsides. We, however, are very aware of our own, unseen failings and of those of our spouses, our children, etc. It’s definitely not a reasonable comparison.
When we first started home schooling, we subscribed to The Teaching Home magazine—you know, the one that always had the perfect family on the front cover, who always wore matching outfits. Needless to say, I never measured up, even to the cover. I was doing well if all of my children were completely dressed and if they each wore matching shoes on their own feet!
The magazine was full of articles by people who appeared to have their acts together and were “doing everything right.” I became so discouraged by reading those magazines that I finally decided to stop reading them. I began filing them away, thinking I’d read them when I finished home schooling. (It never happened, BTW.)
You see, I would read about all the wonderful things these other families were doing that I wasn’t. I finally realized that I was probably doing good things that they weren’t. I needed to reach the place where that was okay.
I loved one article written by Mary James of Smoothing the Way that was published in the THSC Review magazine called, “Picture Perfect Family.” Mary tells of getting family pictures taken that turned out great—but only because you can’t see the ratty jeans and the shoes with mud on them. Isn’t that how all our lives are? We can usually hold it together for as long as the camera is pointed at us or while others are watching (unless your family is like mine and relishes showing their true colors before the photography session is over! 😉 ).
Really, the only One with whom we should compare ourselves is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God’s measuring stick, and we know we’ll always fall short. (See Isaiah 53:6.) Thankfully, we do measure up, but it is only because God looks at us through the Lord Jesus Christ’s perfection, death, and resurrection!
I am so thankful He has taken care of that for me and that I don’t have to worry about how I compare to others!