Healthy Comparison?

I hardly ever get jealous of other people. Except for one time. Real bad.

A few years ago, I was working on a musical project with a bunch of other musicians. One musician in particular was doing very well in this project. She was a talented musician whom I admired. She was popular with everyone. She was my friend.

She was also younger than me. In a way, I had kinda taken her under my wing, mentoring her in worship ministry and creativity and things of the Spirit. And now, here she was, succeeding in the project, achieving great things.

I should have been proud of her. And I was.

But I was also madly jealous.

It was not healthy. I came off feeling quite inferior, but even more than that, sorry for myself. I wondered if my time had passed me by. I felt like a has-been. And I could not stop it.

I felt like a has-been.

I knew it was unhealthy, sinful, cancerous. But there it was.

So I had it out with God. (Does anyone else pray like this?) I told God how annoyed I was with this other musician, my friend, even though I did not want to be. I told God I felt conflicted. I whinged at God. I told him how unfair it all was. I did the poor-me performance.

Then I had an epiphany. It was not really about my friend. She was a beautiful person, innocent in this drama. It was about my own desire for popularity. I wanted what my friend had acquired so effortlessly.

It was about my own desire for popularity.

In the middle of my “praying”, God suddenly answered. It stopped me in my tracks.

“You will never have what she has.”

Oh.

Why? I ventured.

God laid it out for me.

“I have not designed you to be popular. I made you weird. I made you different. I made you quirky. I have wired you as an outsider so you can notice stuff. I have designed you to speak about taboo things, to say what is unsaid, to be niche and countercultural.

“And countercultural people will never be popular. Not in the church, not anywhere.”

”I made you weird.”

I realised that, despite my misgivings, God was right. He designed me to be a writer of unusual topics like singledom and childlessness. He made me observant and thoughtful with a songwriting capacity to match. He created me quirky, opinionated, unique.

It is this unique design that means I will never be like my friend. And it would be stupid of me to try. Just like it would be stupid of my friend to try and be anything other than who she is.

”It would be stupid of me to try.”

God needs my friend exactly the way she is. God needs me exactly the way I am. At the risk of sounding repetitious, God needs you exactly the way you are too. Anything else simply will not last.

I know that I will never be popular, because God has not called me to popularity. He has called others to popularity, and that is ok. But not me. So now it is up to me to embrace my true self, in my glorious unpopularity. That is the only healthy comparison. God expects no less.

Do you struggle with jealousy? Do you compare yourself with others? What helps you embrace the person you really are? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.

2 thoughts on “Healthy Comparison?

  1. Here’s another perspective.

    I hardly ever get jealous of other people. Except for one time.

    I was presenting about marketing at a writer’s conference, and gave an example about how we have to work at marketing to become good at it, just like we have to work at things like learning to play the piano.

    Someone said she never got taught to play piano. She woke up one morning and found God had given her the gift. And she didn’t just bang. She played well. Well enough to lead worship at that writer’s conference.

    Can you remember who said that? Yeah. You.

    So here’s something to remember about comparison: for every person we envy, someone else envies us for a different thing. But – as you say – we have to embrace the gifts God has given us, and not compare ourselves to the person with the “other” gift.

    By the way, there is such a thing as healthy comparison: kale vs. lettuce. You’re welcome 🙂

    • Hi Iola, ok you got me! Not only am I impressed that you remembered that conversation, I am touched by your compliments. And you are right about perspective: while we are busy being jealous, someone else may be experiencing jealousy toward us.

      I guess it goes to show how much we all need grace, doesn’t it?

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