You can read my latest article for the CS Monitor from February 5th here….
Compared to you, I’m…
Sometimes I wonder if “Thou shalt not compare yourself to others” should be the 11th Commandment, though I’m sure it’s probably covered by at least one of the original 10 – worshipping false idols, bearing false witness, or coveting, for example. We may think, she’s smarter than I am, or he has more friends, or she’s more athletic, or he’s better looking, or she’s more successful.
There’s certainly value in appreciating others’ successes and being alert to the need for self-improvement. But when comparisons go hand in hand with pridefulness, self-justification, envy, or self-condemnation, those are unhelpful characteristics.
I have certainly been guilty of this at times. There was a period when I found myself incessantly comparing myself to a particular individual, and I never felt like I measured up. It made me feel pretty insecure, and I found myself wishing I could not only be more like this person, but even just be them altogether!
A friend called me out on it, told me this mindset was keeping me from realizing my potential, and offered this idea: that I could find freedom from this envy and unhelpful picture of myself through turning my thought to a more spiritual perspective.
I pondered the idea that this could be healed, that I could be free of the negative thoughts about both myself and the other person. Christian Science, based on the Bible, teaches that each and every one of us has a unique God-created purpose, which is very much needed. Our fundamental role is to live the good qualities that God expresses in each of His children. We are uniquely qualified to fulfill this purpose.
The first chapter of the Bible talks about how we are created in the image and likeness of God. The Bible also refers to God as Love. This means we were created in the image of infinite Love itself. We are all made to reflect divine Love in uniquely beautiful ways. As Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, states in “Retrospection and Introspection,” “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity” (p. 70). Just as a sunflower and a lily, or an autumn aspen and a maple tree, are each beautiful in different ways, we each have uniquely beautiful ways to express God’s love and goodness toward others and in all that we do. This is our true purpose in life.
As I thought about this, I had some classical music playing in the background, and a song came on that is one of my mom’s favorites. It made me think of her and how much I love her. I began thinking about how she instilled in me a love and appreciation for classical music and supported my artistic endeavors over the years. And then I began to mentally walk through my whole life.
As various memories came to thought I became overwhelmed with gratitude for all the good in my life – for opportunities to feel and express God’s love through amazing people and experiences. I was even grateful for the tough experiences because I could see clearly the lessons learned and how they brought me closer to God, and led to the next step in life.
In all of this gratitude and reflection, I also thought of the person I’d been comparing myself to and their family. I felt so grateful for them and all of their incredible expressions of God’s love. I thought about all of humanity, and how God has created each one of us with love and for a purpose. I became so grateful to God for all of it, I felt a swell of love, peace, and utter joy. And the unhelpful comparison thoughts never returned.
It says in the Bible, “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, English Standard Version). We are all called to live our God-given purpose and to appreciate others’ unique God-given purpose, too. When we do this rather than comparing ourselves with others, we find that good and joy result.