Comparison Kills Contentment

(Editor’s Note: This was written in December, and published in January, hence the Christmas notes.  However, it is an important message for any time of year.)

My sister in Venice this fall.

My sister just texted me from the airplane. She and her husband are on their way to Germany to tour the Christmas markets – for the fifth time. Bring me a lebkuchen, I think as I close my phone and open the mailbox. The first Christmas card of the season has arrived. I haven’t even made one yet and was thinking I might skip it this year altogether. Opening her lovely card, I read that my friend has moved to a new home and lost 35 pounds in the last year. I am happy for her. Really, I am.

Pouring a cup of coffee, I sit down at the computer and click around to my favorite blogs. A gorgeous kitchen remodel appears. On another, a family is pictured gathered around the candlelit kitchen table doing their evening Bible reading, led by the father. On to another and I see that I have forgotten to begin the Immaculate Conception Novena as well as the St. Andrew Christmas novena. Honestly, I had never even heard of the St. Andrew novena before. Even after 13 years as a Catholic, I think to myself, I have so much to learn.

A slow gloom settles over me as I lean back in my chair to think. The past few minutes have been full of wonderful news and ideas from others, and yet my internal conversation has been one of comparing my life, my home, my faith to those for whom I am truly happy. Such a first-world problem it is to overlook the fact that I even have a home, a computer, a sister, a mailbox, a cell phone and the freedom to practice my faith as I wish. How selfish have I become that all this is still not enough to fill me with deepest contentment?

There is only one family worthy of my comparisons – the Holy family. They are the only Joneses after whom I need to model myself. The mother, a young woman ostracized for her unexpected pregnancy, riding a donkey and giving birth in a barn? Not exactly “pinnable” material there. What would our Holy Mother Mary have mentioned in her Christmas card?  “On another note, my son, Jesus, actually turned water into wine this year.” I doubt it.

Still, in some ways, comparing helps us grow, change and become the people God means us to be. We are meant to live the lives God has given us. No more, no less. And to live them with contentment, even enjoyment. Who would have thought this would be the greatest challenge of our time ~ to learn be pleased with our lives as they are right now? But comparing material goods does kill contentment. My home will never look like the cover of House Beautiful, my body will never be worthy of a Victoria’s Secret ad. By the grace of God, most days I don’t even care. But when I sense that I do, I realize I must pull the electronic plug and turn my attention to the true source of my contentment – the word of God.

Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Luke 12:15 ESV

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.

Comparison kills contentment. In 2012, may I strive to be content with what I have and to kill all unhealthy comparisons when they surface.  Only those comparisons which bring me closer to Christ, make me more like Mary and lead me into deeper holiness will bring me true contentment.

Misty, mother of three boys, wife of 15 years,  and ever-learning Catholic, blogs at mistysmornings.blogspot.com .


Comments

  1. A beautiful and well timed post for this mama!

  2. What a great post!! You hit the nail on the head for what so many of us women battle with everyday. Comparing our lives to other women’s highlight reals. Thank you for your courage and wisdom in reminding us to focus on Jesus! -Audry Cece (incourage member)

  3. Amen Misty! What a wonderful post and it hits so close to home. The comparing is so toxic to us internally and sometimes you do have to step away from the peeks into other’s lives and focus on ours…and the Holy Family’s. This has been such an issue for me and has increased my depression…but I am learning.

    *Contentment*…great word for 2012…think the Spirit just blessed me with that one LOL!~Theresa

  4. “We are meant to live the lives God has given us. No more, no less.”

    Beautiful. May I add, and {try} live them joyfully as a precious gift from God.

  5. Great article, Misty. I so agree with you and think that the Internet is certainly a near occasion of sin in this regard. It is important to stay in our own world, and even if we surf the net, do so in a time-balanced way so that real life is always were we spend most of our day. It’s so much easier to choose to love the things (including people) we have than to always be looking for something better. There will always BE something better.

  6. oh wow. i love this! i really needed this now because even though i try not to…i usually feel the same way after reading people’s Christmas cards and looking @ blogs, etc….which is why i VERY carefully ponder what to write in mine…thank you!:)

  7. Beautiful reflection for this morning! To live the life God had given me and to do so with joy. Thankyou.

    • Isn’t that the best thing you can imagine God saying to you? It reassures me that my “job” as mother and wife is enough as long as I am doing it to glorify God.

  8. WOW- what a beautiful and important post- I’m passing it along because it is so true that we need to compare ourselves ONLY to the Holy Family in hopes we will be more like them

  9. My favorite part? “There is only one family worthy of my comparisons–the Holy family.” What a beautiful reminder to keep our hearts focused on our true purpose. This hit me today where I needed it. Thank you for sharing!

  10. What a beautiful post, my friend. I am ever so grateful for you and your words. (You will never know how much your words and your heart have helped me this past year…..truly….) This fast-paced, immediate gratification world is so overwhelming at times. So yes, we need to keep our eyes focused on the Holy Family and remember to continue to thank God for all that we have been given and for all that we ARE able to do. Peace to you…..

    • Your friendship and encouragement is proof that blogging creates real friendships in cyberland! Thank you for these kindnesses and peace to you too!

  11. Thank you for this wonderful article! This seems to be a recurring theme for me in the past months, in my readng, my prayer, and my heart. I appreciate your insights. I could have sworn that when I read it this morning there was another whole part in there, about how you enjoy cooking, so others might see you and feel discouraged because they don’t cook well, when really their own gifts might lie in other things … am I imagining this, or did it get edited?? Because I really liked those parts too! I am one who tends to look at all the good others are doing and feel down, like you said in your post. Yet sometimes I feel almost ashamed when I use my own talents, because I don’t want others to feel bad, and that is a very silly way to live too!!

    • Nope – no editing done – maybe a prompting from the Holy Spirit just for you. I know what you mean about feeling a bit strange if you share your cooking/decorating these days because so many people make you feel like a superwoman or a Martha wannabe. But God calls us to be hospitable and to use the talents he gave us. Blessings Liz!

  12. I just stumbled on another blog post called “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”. I wonder if God is trying to tell me something?!

  13. Oh precious sister of the faith..POWERFUL devotional…How it spoke to my spirit…I’m off to visit your blog now and get to ‘know’ you even more. Blessings.

  14. Oh, so beautiful! Just needed to add my thanks to the chorus.

  15. I hope it’s okay, I just linked to this ! New to blogging, totally unsure of the etiquette. Thank you for the peaceful and sweet piece. Too True.

  16. I am so glad to have stumbled across this post again. This may be a required read at the beginning of each new year.