The Most Dangerous Game

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Can you imagine having a child you love, and constantly comparing that little, fragile soul to the frightening, and competitive world around her?

I’m not a mother, but seriously, that sounds heartlessly cruel.

And yet, this is what comparison does to my heart (the child) every time I rank myself against someone else.

I have friends who are parents, bestselling authors, and accomplished performing artists. At the moment, I’m none of these, though I dabble or work or aspire to all.

A few months ago, my heart was highly accustomed to lining up my life with someone else’s in a mirror, then seeing only where I didn’t measure up.

In the mirror I see: I don’t revise my work as fast as I wish I could. I don’t have a magnificent social media presence, I don’t I don’t I don’t…

OK fine, I still do this. And sometimes it’s about the shallow stuff like fashion.

This like leading that little child onto a stage filled with her peers, and people with years more life experience, and even brilliant genius children who are both younger and smarter than her, then uttering these poisoned words: “Why can’t you be more like them?”

At times, comparison inflates our pride, and it doesn’t seem quite as devastating then…yet, do we really need more humans walking around thinking they’re superior to everyone else?

It cuts both ways.

I want to challenge all of us to see comparison for the awful, useless game that it is.

Kneel down and look that child in the eye.  Tell her she’s beautiful, creative, and fearfully and wonderfully made for her own unique purpose here on Earth. Encourage her strengths, celebrate her work, and rejoice in her growth, no matter how that path through the garden may meander.

Where does the comparison game still trip you up? Have you found ways to overcome it?


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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I believe this quote is by Teddy Roosevelt. I have it written on a post-it on my desk 🙂 Thank you for this great post!

    1. Thank you, Kate! I had searched previously and found it anonymous. Will attribute it properly now!

  2. Totally! This is the mirror that we’re doing ourselves no favors to look into. Nice twist. I like it. 🙂

  3. I too struggle with this and I am reminded that by comparing myself to other people I am not truly loving them. I try to see people as Jesus does, not as the world does. But this is hard because the world lives by its own standards which we are all evaluated upon. That is why it is imperative to remember my sole identity is defined by Jesus. However I look or whatever I do will not change that, and when I compare myself to Him, I find that I am in need of His grace every moment. That I have nothing in me that is good apart from Him.

    1. Jen, I’m glad that this hits home. You’ve heard me talk about my struggles here, so I know you know how deep-rooted it can get. You’re so right that we’re not loving to others when we compare ourselves. And remembering that Jesus has enough grace for you in all your weakness is a comfort to cling to. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Elise- this is such a good reminder for me and for us all. It’s so hard to recognize when we are falling into the pattern of comparing ourselves to others instead of seeing the blessings in our life at their full value. Thanks for the encouragement. <3

    1. Michelle, I’m so glad this touches you and is timely! I was really struggling under it this summer, and I’m able to look at the comparison game with new eyes, eyes that see it as awful and harmful, not just silly and dumb. May you continue to see the rich blessings all around you. xoxo

  5. Great post as always Elise. As I’ve said before (and I don’t remember where I heard it originally) we often tells ourselves things that we would not tell our worst enemy. Same thing with comparing ourselves to others. I catch myself doing it sometimes, and I try to remind myself that a) we don’t know the circumstances around that person’s life and b) I’m on my own path, doing things in my own time. And also to be kind and gentle to myself. To look in the mirror and say “I love you, just the way you are.”

    1. Thank you, Debbie! I love your point that we say to ourselves what we’d never say to our enemies. Is it that we think we can get away with it because the thoughts stay inside our head? Very scary. I want to practice saying those words to myself, and really meaning them. I love you just the way you are.

  6. Oh how I get this, Elise. It’s a tricky trap tat (I think?) we all fall into at times.
    Good for you for facing it and addressing it. It’s the only way, yes?

    1. Galit, yes! We have to face it. It’s to insidious otherwise. The unmasking is the first step, then the brave self-loving, a bit at a time.

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