But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
— Galatians 6:4
Tom and Mary Beth had scrimped and saved for their anniversary weekend getaway to a nearby campground. They rented a canoe, roasted hot dogs on an open fire and slept in the same tent they’d used for their honeymoon ten years before.
On their way home, Mary Beth went to her Facebook page to upload her pictures of their thrifty, fun-filled anniversary celebration. That’s when she saw the post of their neighbors. They were tanned, well-dressed and standing on a cruise ship balcony that overlooked the Mediterranean. Suddenly, nothing about Mary Beth’s mediocre existence seemed good enough to post. She closed her phone, shut down her joy and snapped at her husband’s off-key whistling.
Comparison. It’s the tendency to assume we’d be happier if only we had the advantages, money or life of someone else. Mark Twain called comparison the death of joy.
Research has found that constantly measuring our worth based on the victories or failures of others can breed feelings of envy, low self-esteem and an unrealistic view of others’ lives.
The Apostle Paul warned the believers in Galatia to avoid the danger of worrying about how they compared to other people. Why? Because what people present to the outside world isn’t always the reality. In fact in our Instagram culture, images are more often photoshopped than true, posed rather than real. When we compare our everyday lives with the touched up highlight reel of our friends on social media, we’ll fall short. But when we’re grateful for even the smallest joys, we’ll find that our lives overflow with gladness.
Mary Beth had no idea that her neighbors had maxed their credit card in an attempt to save their struggling marriage. If she had known, perhaps she wouldn’t have dismissed the joy of being held under the stars by a man who adored her and instead counted it as a treasured memory.
Today’s One Thing
Write one accomplishment and one character trait for which you wish to be remembered. Use these personal values as your comparison barometer.