Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.
Maria* is a wonderful little girl I had the opportunity to get to know last summer at work. She is 6 years old and an EXTREME PERFECTIONIST! Over a period of weeks, she made this cross out of coiled magazine pages. This is a difficult process for a kid especially a 6 year old. Many times, she wanted to throw it away and start over and many times I had to encourage her to continue. She was really proud of herself for finishing it. And she was really proud of her cross until she saw what Hannah* did with her coiled magazine pages.
Maria’s countenance fell, she was nearly in tears. “But…hers…is…better.” she cried. It took an incredible amount of talking with her to help her see this differently. I pointed out that they had made two totally different pictures, comparing them was unfair. That failed. I reminded her that Hannah is 11 years old and she is only 6. Failed. I asked her to tell me how many other kids made coiled magazine pictures and she thought for a while and said only me and Hannah. Exactly, I said. It’s a difficult project and you completed it. Failed again. She was so hurt and disappointed in her art.
Finally, I asked her, “did you have fun making this?”
“Do you like it?”
“No, do you like it?”
A little glimmer of hope, her face picked up only a tiny bit and she said, “Yes.”
“That’s all that matters then.” I told her.
Success, she bought it. Her countenance picked up, she hugged her picture to her chest and allowed me to take that picture.
Comparison is the death of contentment. There will always be someone we can compare ourselves to and decide that we are less than. If we want to boost our ego, we can find someone to compare ourselves to that is less than so we can feel better than. Either way, we lose the contentment that could be ours.
Comparison is a game no one wins. Comparing ourselves to others puts us in a position of focusing on other people and their achievement and pulls our energy away from our achievements. It creates walls between people and allows us to believe the lie that what we do is the basis of our worth. The better I do, the more worth I have kind of thinking. What if, like Maria, we could learn to take satisfaction in a job well done without comparisons being made? Wouldn’t that enable us to enjoy the journey a little bit more?
Jesus, help me to learn to enjoy and treasure what You have given me to do and help me to let go of my need to make comparisons. Help me to find the beauty, the lessons, the grace in my successes and not so successes and help me to be an encourager to others who are trapped in the net of comparing themselves or their work to others, in Jesus’s name, I pray, amen.
*not her real name
I would love to hear from you. Please let me know if I can be praying for you as well.
pic credit: Diane Reid