“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt
I know comparison all too well. (How many times have I confessed this sin!) I have battled it, hated it, wrestled with it, and laid it at the feet of Jesus over and over again. In my insecurity how many times have I been haunted by:
“I’m not as beautiful as she is.”
“I’m not as smart as he is.”
“I’m not as holy or as virtuous as they are.”
Truly, comparison has robbed me one too many times of my peace and my joy, but also of something else. Comparison robs me of the realization of God’s infinite mercy.
Beneath “I’m not good as, not holy as, not (fill in the blank) as” is the lie:
I have to be perfect in order to be loved.
I have to be the best. I have to win the race. I have to somehow eradicate all my faults, imperfections and poverties… and do it quickly!
But if I am living from this place, believing that holiness, goodness, happiness, God’s blessing, and the reception of love are all rooted in some kind of competition, then I have totally missed the very heart of the Gospel.
And what is the very heart of the Gospel?
God’s mercy. Love I cannot earn, can’t compete for, can’t achieve. Love that is not attracted to all my perfection, but on the contrary, is attracted to all my imperfection! Love that has come down to save me, to set my heart free. Not because I am so good. But because that Love, who is God Himself, is so good.
Comparison is a thief that says: “You must be the best in order to be loved.” And the very thing that captures that thief in his tracks, silencing his voice, is the message that our modern-day saints (Therese, Faustina, John Paul II) have been trying to remind us of:
We don’t have to be big and great. We can actually be little.
This is such good news! If you (like me) feel you can’t compete, can’t do great things, bump up against your fragility and brokenness again and again… Rejoice! There is infinite room for God’s mercy in your life.
As St. Therese of Lisieux said: “Do not fear, the poorer you are, the more Jesus will love you. He will go far, very far in search of you…”
When I truly know Jesus loves me in my weakness, just as I am, I rediscover what Reverend Jacques Philippe calls a kind of “double freedom”: the freedom to be a sinner, and to be a saint.
We are poor sinners (and we’re kidding ourselves if we think that we’re not!), but Jesus in His love has destined us to be great saints! Not by our success, but simply by our faithfulness to His love.
When I am faithful by going to Jesus each day and saying, “Yes, Lord! My answer to You is yes! Let Your mercy enter into my littleness, my brokenness and my desperate need for You. And let Your mercy take over! I trust in Your great love for me!” When I can say these words, I can’t even find the need to compare or compete any longer.
Because it’s no longer about how good I am. It’s about how good He is.