This past summer, my husband and I discovered our proximity to the trails in our town. We dusted off our bikes and attempted to ride everywhere that we could reasonably manage, taking advantage of the generously sunlit days in the summer months.
One early August morning, we rode to our favorite coffee shop before the heat of the day sent us indoors. The barista at the coffee shop noticed that we came in on our bikes and immediately sparked up a conversation about his fondness of biking and how much he loved our old Schwinns. He explained that he and his wife had spent many evenings riding downtown, and they had a list of bars that they would stop at along their favorite path. Reluctantly, our new acquaintance admitted that he had not been able to ride this summer because his wife just had a baby. The four-month-old gift had interrupted him and his wife from pursuing some of the activities that they had once enjoyed. He was eagerly looking forward to getting back to biking in the near future, but the moments with his new baby were worth the forfeit of his old hobby.
There have been moments in my life when hearing an arbitrary stranger speak about their child could have destroyed my entire day. I remember one such occasion a few months back when I was driving home from a doctor’s appointment and caught sight of a father with his son in hand walking down the sidewalk. A glimpse into the life of another reminded me of what I did not have: children. In one instant, overwhelmed with the thought of what my life was missing, I crumbled and accelerated home to wallow in my pain.
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This day was different, though. It was a new moment with new choices.
After the chat with our barista, my husband and I continued on our journey to a rose garden. Walking through the garden beds, we admired each variety of rose for its intricate design. My husband pointed out which ones caught his eye and asked me which ones were my favorites. Each had been cultivated in a way to make it thrive for its particular species. Some of the flowers were in full bloom; others were modest buds still soaking up the early morning sun’s rays.
The experience of admiring the rose garden reminds me of how the Father sees us. Each of us is unique, unrepeatable, masterfully created and deeply loved. Yet, there are times that it is too easy to forget the Father’s love. I do this when I look at the life of another and compare it to mine, wishing that I had the gifts they’ve been given or wishing that they would have less. I give in to this feeling when I allow Satan to cloud my head with ideas that the Father is not taking care of me. I forget my daughterhood and wallow in self-pity. This burden of comparison quickly becomes a heavy load.
I’ve known the weight of comparison, jealousy and envy since I was an adolescent, but I did not fully recognize its presence in my life or its hold on me until I brought it to the confessional in my adult life. The weight of comparison, like a thief, steals away my daughterhood. It causes me to forget that God is the king and that I am his beloved child. Comparison consumes my heart in such a way that it leaves no room for gratitude and only leads to self-pity. Like the roses in the garden, the Father has a unique design for me.
Shedding the weight of comparison begins through relationship with the Father. It means taking my rightful place as a daughter of the king. Immense freedom awaits in embracing the unique plan God has for me and knowing that it will be mine exclusively. I find myself overflowing with confidence when I remember that no one else’s plan will look the same as mine. Knowing this allows me to have deep gratitude in my soul for God’s care for me.
Knowing my personal struggle with the burden of comparison, I’ve begun to incorporate ways to shed that weight throughout my day. Firstly, I pray, specifically meditating on my inherent daughterhood. I remind myself that I am God’s beloved daughter over and over. It is like I have made a recording on repeat saying, “I am God’s beloved daughter.” Secondly, I strive to prevent thoughts of comparison from stealing space in my brain, and I find solace in the confessional when I have failed. Lastly, I foster a heart of gratitude when I reflect on what I am most grateful for each day with my husband before bed.
Each moment that I strive to thank God for the gift of me, I am honoring him because he made me this way. I am his beautiful masterpiece. Freedom has made itself known to me in my intentional striving to rid my life of comparison. Even though I still fail sometimes, I have found confidence and peace that I did not know I was missing. With God’s grace, I hope to continue striving for this freedom.