It feels good to be back in the beautiful, cold, and wintry Kent, Ohio for the Spring semester. I was so nervous to come back that it was making my stomach clench with the fear of uncertainty looming over my shoulders like something that looms over shoulders.
I was afraid that it would not be what I had hoped it would be; that I would be the victim of another stressful semester and the inscrutableness of change would yet again knock on my door and make itself a partner in my suffering.
I always get a little nervous when I’m uncomfortable coming back to Kent, but I’m in this state of mind in this season of my life in which I let things happen as God intends them to. If God wants me to do something, I just go for it with [minimal] questions asked. (Minimal because I’m human).
Even with that said, I want to talk about a topic that’s kind of been on my heart for awhile now. That is: my thoughts on fear and my thoughts on comparison. I was originally going to maybe split this topic into two separate posts, but I think that fear and comparison often go hand-in-hand in life.
Fear is an interesting subject for me; it’s such a general term I think, and because of that it can be a difficult subject to tackle. Personally, I like to categorize fear and anxiety in two different places. I believe that fear is typically singular; for example like a fear of spiders, or of hospitals, or more recently for myself: dentists. Concerning anxiety, I feel that it is a little more “plural” in a sense. Anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways and is the persistence of fear; while I’m an advocate for and a person that lives with anxiety, I believe that anxiety is very much the irrationalization (that’s totally a word) of fear.
I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with anxiety, panic, and depression. I’m a B I G advocate for mental health. I have to say that in no way by addressing my thoughts on fear am I attempting to diminish any persons experience with anxiety. Anxiety is not fear; the two emotions, though similar in symptom, are not the same. By addressing fear, my only goal is to share with you my thoughts and maybe provide a sense of relation: you are not alone. You are not the first person to feel this way, and you are not alone in the way that you’re feeling. My soul (that was intentional) goal in discussing this topic is merely to address the role that fear plays in comparison.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1st Peter 5:8-9
and you can’t forget that verse right after it…
“And the God of all GRACE, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself RESTORE you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” (v.10).
God is Good.
have get to begin by saying that comparison is the thief of joy.
I haven’t discussed in too much detail my experience with comparison. But it’s a lot. I have a terrible issue with comparison. It used to be a lot worse than it is currently in my life, but it used to affect every aspect of my relationship as well as my feelings about myself.
I used to compare my friends to each other, and it hurt not only them, but also myself. I only learned this last summer how the enemy can use comparison to come between you and your friends.
Remember that loving everyone as they are is so vital.
We’re called to be like Jesus, and being like Jesus involves allowing people to people. Think of yourself—you are the one person who knows yourself better than anyone else: you know your flaws, your imperfections, your sins, your mistakes. If you want for people to accept you, you must first accept others. This is something that I struggle with. I like to think it’s the “wing 1” in me for any of my Enneagram lovers out there. It’s also the fact that I’m incredibly prideful, and as a result of that, I sometimes forget.
Loving people as they are is easier said than done for sure. Love is a muscle, my friends, and we must work it out like we do any other muscle.
Comparison can be tricky, but we need to remember that after a point, comparison can be harmful and not proactive. For example, wanting to imitate an individual’s practices can be incredibly helpful in a persons growth. Perhaps you have a good friend that studies the Bible in a certain way and you believe that you might benefit from adopting his or her practice. In that type of situation, and to be honest in any situation we should ask ourselves two questions:
- Why am I doing this right now?
2. Will this affect my relationship with this person?
These are just two questions that I ask myself when tempted to compare.
It’s also important to know your limits and be self-reflective. Comparison, while at a certain level, can be sinful, we must ask ourselves if comparison is something that we struggle with on the day-to-day.
I think it’s also important to know your fears about yourself—especially if you are comparing yourself with someone else.
I know for myself that I have a lot of self-doubt, and one of the ways that I combat that is by asking myself how God feels about me in that moment, or what God believes about me in that moment. As I said before, we are human. Our humanness can often be a factor that clouds our self-judgement, so it’s imperative to remind ourselves as much as personally necessary. God’s ways are higher than ours, His thoughts are higher than ours.
Fear often wiggles its way into comparison, and usually plays a part in it.
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God Himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.” 2nd Corinthians 10:12-13
and this Goodie
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of God.” Galatians 1:10
With all of that being said, I know that I still continue to struggle with comparison. I have to stop myself sometimes and make a conscious decision not to, because comparison can be natural, we sometimes do not realize that we’re doing it until after it has happened.
For that, I will end with a few words from my dude, Paul:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:12-14
grace and peace
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