Oddwalk Ministries

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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Liam, looking uncharacteristically angelic

One of the reasons I want to blog regularly is so that I can have a place to document my faith journey. All of us are called through our baptism to be ministers of the Gospel. I believe that in sharing my experience of trying to live Christ each and every day, I am in fact sharing Christ. That doesn’t mean I believe that each word I sing, speak, or type is the holy inspired Word of God. It just means I believe that, through my efforts, Christ takes some part of my offering and uses it to encourage others on their own faith journeys, thereby building and strengthening the Kingdom here on Earth. So, I give God my gifts and let God figure things out from there. It’s a bit like a trip to the store I took one day with my five year-old, Liam. After asking me for a treat and hearing me tell him no, Liam dug into his pocket, showed me some change he’d found, and offered to pay for the treat. In that tiny hand was two pennies, a nickel, and a quarter. Liam, of course, has no idea the value each coin held, so he couldn’t see how far he was from the needed amount. To him, it was money. Acquiring the treat required money, and he had money. In the end, I took the change and used it as his contribution towards the purchase of the treat…because I’m a sucker. While Liam’s coins weren’t enough to purchase the treat outright, they were helpful. So it is with our faith offerings. It’s up to us to give what we have. It’s up to God to sort our offering and make use of it somehow.

Those words above are easier to type than they are to live. Intellectually, I know I’m called to share the Good News, and have identified a number of gifts I’ve been given over the years to help facilitate that sharing. It’s just hard to get out of my own way, sometimes. Like most of us, I struggle with many things that tend to make this type of work harder than it has to be. Chief among these obstacles is my tendency to fall into the sin of comparison:

-He has better songs than I do.
-She is better with her money.
-If I lost some weight, I would be as respected as that person.
-He seems to be getting opportunities I should also have.
-I know I’m more talented than her, but she is getting all the attention

It seems so silly when I write them out like that, yet those thoughts are crippling when then creep in. Often, I end up falling into what my wife and I would call a “death spiral”. This normally involves compounding already self-loathing thoughts with punishing introspection, usually involving my weight and age, the latter of which reflects my doubts about my effectiveness in ministry with young people. Once I realize I’ve been in a death spiral, I can typically pick myself up after a while, dust myself off, and continue moving forward, remind myself that God loves me and that I have work to do. It makes me thing that perhaps God was on to something when covetousness was featured so prominently in the ten commandments.

I share all of this with you so you can see what I’ve learned about how sin, doubt, and too much focus on oneself can be a deterrent to the mission that God has for each one of us. For me, words attributed to Theodore Roosevelt ring the truest: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. By comparing myself to others who do similar work, I am being robbed of the simple joy of offering God my life.
This earthly life is too short and our God is too great to let our lives be governed by anything but goodness and light. Let’s pray for each other that the faith offerings we make can be complete and done in a spirit of unwavering trust in God.

-Shannon

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