I’m trying to imagine a world with no comparisons. Where comparing ourselves with others only provides us with information, not definition. What would that world look like? Short would be short, and tall would be tall, and no one would be the worse for it. Freckles would just be freckles. And an F on a test would solely result from not studying. It would have nothing to do with everyone else passing with flying colors.
Parties would look different. Sitting in a room with people who have their lives together and know which side of the plate a fork goes on would simply be sitting in a room with people who’ve had some exposure to etiquette. School would be a playing field of equality where a person could be their best self and would never even think about who’s the best self of all.
I’ve spent way too much time comparing myself to others. I recently visited with some funny and smart friends, and the thought crossed my mind, “I’m probably the least educated person in the room.” That thought was soaked in the deep, murky waters of comparison. To my credit, I didn’t think less of myself (too much). I appreciated my intelligent friends and patted myself on the back for understanding most of what they were talking about. That moment didn’t define me.
But still, there are moments when a shadow crosses my little world reminding me I’m not the best writer, mocking the way I get tongue-tied, and pointing out that I’m not as well read, creative, or skilled as the next guy. I’m average at best, and the shadow whispers I will never be good enough.
Some people would say comparisons help us grow. If we didn’t compare ourselves to others, we might end up thinking we’ve arrived and are the best when that’s far from true. I think there’s merit in that. My public speaking skills are great when I’m in my house, behind closed doors, with no recording devices anywhere nearby. (I also know karate, ballet, and can play the piano when no one’s watching.)
We don’t want to deceive ourselves. We want the truth, right? If the piano playing sounds terrible, we want to know. If those chops through the air don’t qualify as karate, we want the truth. We need it.
And here’s a truth we would do well to remember: being the best at anything does not make us the best we can be. Our best selves are not measured by where we fall in comparison to others. Our best selves are formed in the light of a creator who knows exactly why we’re here and what we’re meant to do.
Your worth is measured by blood. Your significance resides in the value placed on you by your Savior, and that has nothing to do with how well you stack up against everyone else. I’m fairly certain God will not look at us and ask why we were just average.
He knows our journey, and I think in Him the average becomes extraordinary. Not to make us feel better about ourselves, but because He is worthy of it, and He makes us whole.
So compare if you must, but let it only inform you, not define you. God has things for us to do. Let’s not waste time in the shadows, listening to comparisons and feeling like there’s no hope. Instead, let us stand, ready, looking for what’s next and figuring out what we need to do to be everything he’s created us to be.