The Comparison Trap
The other night I was crying in my bed because I didn’t feel like I was worthy enough. I thought about another girl my age who had just published a book like me, but through an actual big-name publisher. She was doing so many things right and having so much success… she was utilizing a publicist, her platform was growing, and her book was being spread all over. It made me think about how much I had done wrong and how much she had done better than me, even though my story is very different from hers.
I began to feel defeated. And as I sat there and thought about her heart and her standing and her success, all I could think about was how all that compared to mine. I fell into the comparison trap… and it was not a good feeling.
Because you know what I felt like then? Unworthy. I felt too flawed, too imperfect… just straight up not good enough. I became frustrated with my similar efforts that hadn’t taken off like hers had. Instead of staying in my lane, I was looking to my right and left and already feeling defeated as another runner came down the track.
And you know what? Because I wouldn’t stay in my lane and look straight ahead, keeping my eyes fixed on Christ, I felt discouraged and doubtful. My faith took a step back, and I did not feel like I was enough. Maybe I’m just not good enough, I thought. Maybe I’m just not worthy of chasing after these dreams. I feel like I’m so behind… maybe I shouldn’t keep running in this race I’ll never win.
This got me thinking about a story I had heard at a conference I went to recently. The speaker, Sheila Walsh, talked about the Miracle Mile that happened back in 1954. This was a monumental event where Roger Bannister and John Landy went head to head at the British Empire and Commonwealth games. They were on their fourth and final lap of their mile with John Bannister trailing behind John Landy.
It came down to the home stretch, and John Landy began wondering where his opponent was relative to him, as he could hear him coming. He looked over his left shoulder to see where Roger Bannister was, but as he looked back, Roger Bannister surpassed him on his right and ended up winning the race. The race became known as the Miracle Mile, because both of the men broke four minutes, with John running in at 3:58.8 and Roger at 3:59.6, but Roger Bannister had won it all.
Because John took his eyes off the prize and became concerned with how those alongside him were doing, he lost the entire race and fell short of fulfilling his dreams. The very short amount of time he took to look back was enough for him to fall behind.
This is just like us. When we decide to take our eyes off Christ and start looking to our right and left at what others are doing and comparing ourselves, we fall behind in the race.
We are asked in Galatians 5:7 “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
The devil likes to trip us up and get us to fall behind. He wants us to be so stuck in what’s happening around us that we forget to lift up our faces and focus on the One who fills us with worth, the One who picks up all the broken pieces, the One who tells us we are enough.
God chose you. He wants you. He loves you. And He’s calling you to press on toward the prize. Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We are given encouragement and guidance on how to win this prize in Hebrews 12:1 “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” and in Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”
When we fix our eyes on Jesus and flee from those comparisons that entangle us, we are able to run the race we are supposed to be running. We are given the strength and passion and talents and gifts to get to the finish line.
Because you see, we’re all running for the same prize on the same team… but we’re just running in different events. We all have been given a unique combination of talents that makes us all so special. We are God’s craftsmanship… meant for good, amazing things. We were not made to just be in constant comparison of different masterpieces that are all exquisite in their own way.
And even when you feel like someone is so far ahead of you in the race, they could be just absolutely exhausted. We do not know what other people’s journeys are about, but we do know what ours is. All we need to do is keep our eyes fixed on the One with all the answers. The One who is the only thing that will truly fulfill us. We must run with endurance and never worry about looking in the other lanes. God created a special one just for us.
So let’s keep our faces turned toward God and not at the other runners, so that at the end of our lives, when we have ran the race and pressed on towards Jesus, we will be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
Let’s press on toward the prize that God has called us to together.