All around us, people are moving along with their lives in ways we either once thought ours would go or wish we could join.
When we take our eyes off of God’s activity in our own lives and give into comparison, then we open the door for the thief to come in and steal our joy. It’s a hands-down recipe for discontentment.
Not only is it a sure-fire joy-sucker, but it’s also a great way to miss the master storyteller’s weaving of our own story.
1. “Don’t compare your chapter 5 to someone else’s chapter 20”
The idea of looking at someone else’s life situation – whether it be job or education or spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend or travels or home or siblings or car or abilities or gifts or knowledge or church ministry or children or health or finances or personality or extrovertedness or introvertedness or reputation or part in the play or place in the hierarchy or … (I’m guessing you got the idea?) – um, I think need to start over.
The idea of looking at anything in that list above and comparing it to what you have is like mixing and matching chapters out of different novels. That might be a fun type of “mad libs” party game, but it would make no sense for crafting a story that someone would actually want to read.
And yet, that’s what we do.
One person’s ministry is born from their personal pain.
Another’s ability to lead stems from having been witness to the kind of leaders he doesn’t want to be.
You see the love a couple shares, but not the struggles to merge two different personalities.
When we simply drop into chapter 20 with eyes of envy, we lose all context and subplot and character development that has been building to that point. It just doesn’t make sense.
Stop comparing yourself and your story to others. Madlibs are SO 1980s.
And while we are talking stories …
2. Don’t put a period where God has placed a comma
Introductory phrases and clauses. Every good writer incorporates them. They bring variety to the chapter.
Just like wildernesses, waiting places, and winter seasons are purposeful, so are introductory phrases and clauses.
But these introductory modifiers are always punctuated by what? A comma. Not a period. That’s because they aren’t meant to be the final word.
Are you trying to put a period where God has placed a comma? Is He growing you and preparing you for something? But you look at this stage as if it’s the final sentence of the book when it’s only a lead-in to a chapter?
I’ve heard it said, “If you want a happy ending, it depends on where you end the story.” You may be in the middle of an introductory clause. You may have closed out a chapter and are beginning another. Whatever the specific situation, it’s easy to feel like you just keep waiting for the story to unfold.
Many times lately, I’ve heard this admonition: “God has to do a work in you before He will do a work through you.”
So true. Be sure of it. But also be sure of this: He IS working. Stop comparing yourself and your place in the story to where you thought you’d be. You may not be able to see it all coming together, but it will.
And the story the master weaver writes will be way better than anything you imagined!
I have one last confession to make on this subject.
- I read books starting at the back.
- I google the plot before even starting a movie.
- Since I don’t usually watch TV in real time, I use the Wikipedia episode guide to get the scoop on how it ends.
- Any intel that keeps me from having to wait. Have I mentioned that I don’t like to wait?
Lately I’ve been begging God, “What’s next?” This is my current twist on the temptation to ask for something different than what He’s offering: “Hurry up and answer. Don’t keep me waiting.” And this is the third secret to stop comparing yourself to others or where you thought you’d be.
3. Savor the chapter you’re in
Whatever the specifics, it’s all the same type of anti-embracing. Whether I am outright comparing, wishing to star in a different story, tired of introductory phrases, or antsy about turning the next page, I am failing to savor the chapter of life I am in and thus, letting the thief steal my joy.
There is only one who can protect my heart from this thief.
Truly, Jesus is my answer. He is, after all, the author and perfecter of my faith. When I take my temptation to Him, I walk away trusting in his timing and embracing the story He is writing.
When I FIX. Fix. Fix my eyes on Him, I can’t look at what else there is to compare.
He has a track record of provision and goodness and giving me greater things than I ever knew to ask for.
I choose to remember what He has done because it frames my perspective for why I wait for what He will do.
And really, there is no place I’d rather be, then right in the middle of the story that God is weaving out of my life.
This post originally appeared on ChristiGee.com and was republished with permission.
Christi Gee is the author of Revival: 6 Steps to Reviving Your Heart and Rebuilding Your Prayer Life and the creator of It’s Reasonable — a series of guided courses designed to help parents and teachers answer kids’ common questions about the Christian faith. Her newest book Behold released just in time for Christmas Advent. Find out more at ChristiGee.com or join Christi on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.