There I stood, five people away from her. I could over hear her complaining about receiving a birthday gift of a bottle of Cristal champagne. She lamented that she wished she had received something else and seemed smugly disappointed. A friend of hers laughed and said, “that really is a first world problem”. Immediately I passed judgment on her as the gremlin in my head began to run amuck. I thought to myself, “you have no clue lady what is going on the world around you…poverty…people seeking asylum…homelessness…struggle…loss…entitlement…there it was, the ‘E’ word.
As I fought to look this way and that way to get a full glimpse, I sized her up. She had a solid, bright complexion. Beautiful hair and dark features. Her body was in perfect proportion. I pegged her to be about 15-ish years younger than me. I couldn’t find a thing wrong with her. About that time, the coach motioned us into the gym and we each took our place at the treadmill and began to run. I took note of where she was positioned in relation to me. I glanced; no I stared at the screen, reading each name one by one, wondering which one might be hers. Where was her heart rate pacing? Was mine pushing ahead of hers or behind? This was it, I was in full competition mode. No, I was in full comparison mode; her full head of hair compared to my high-lighted hair, her youth compared to my age, her perfect outside compared to my, well, less than perfect outside.
The gremlin in my head was put at bay as I began to focus on the run. I pushed it. I ran at an ‘all out’ pace. As I glanced down the way to see what her ‘all out’ looked like, it was time to head to the rowers. I rowed hard to get my heart rate back up and I turned to look at her with something like admiration. Her arms were so defined. She had perfect form. She wore a hot pink sports bra with matching leggins, something I could never wear (I choose to cover my mid-section). Every muscle in her body was at work, dare I say, she was perfect. The gremlin in my head made me push harder, reach further, row more intensely, as if I would conquer these thoughts with intensity.
As I warred against myself, I realized the conversation taking place in my head was way off the mark. In fact, what I had been thinking was a complete lie. A cooler me emerged to speak above the gremlin’s voice, to tell me that I AM OK. In fact, I’m better than ok. I AM perfect. God would create nothing less. My fitness level, my shape, my complexion, my being is just as beautiful as hers, but we are different. The comparison caused me to temporarily forget who I am and whose I am. It caused me to forget the blessings in my life, in my journey, my accomplishments, and my achievements. Those “if only I” moments will cause us not to see or appreciate what we do have. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Comparing can steal your joy. It stole my joy for that moment.
My favorite speaker Joyce Meyer says, “Comparison says to God, ‘I want to limit Your work in my life to this and nothing else. I just want to be like this other person.’ But God has an individual plan for each of us. His plan for you is greater than you could possibly imagine. Stop looking at His plans for others so you can walk in the plans He has for you and receive the blessings they bring.