The Joy Thief

Back when I was working, I used something called a comparison microscope on an almost daily basis. In that setting I was using it to compare toolmarks to see if they were made by the same tool.

For some reason a few days ago thinking of the term "comparison microscope" made me realize that's sometimes what we do with our lives, our looks, our love, our lifestyles. We compare.

Like so many quotes you can see in pretty lettering with a chalkboard background these days all over the internet, I can't give proper authorship to this one (most say Theodore Roosevelt or Dwight Edwards). Whoever said it it is true ...

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Yet we often take a microscope to ourselves and look at all the ways we aren't like that girl on the fitness video, or that mom that wrote that one book or blog, or that wife whose husband can't say enough wonderful things about her.

Sometimes in reading about fitness I find quotes that encourage us to compare to ourselves. Friend, I am 37 years old ... I have had two beautiful children ... I will NEVER look like I did in high school. And I wasn't even happy with myself then.

If I compared every day of our marriage to our honeymoon ... that's just not really fair is it? I love our home, but our room is not nearly this opulent and fragile and child-free. Great for romance, but lacking in rambunctious family clamor that is music to my ears (at least, when my ears aren't trying to listen to Tim or another adult attempt to converse with me). They both have their place and I would have wasted my honeymoon sighing over children to be or I could waste the girls' precious years at home sighing away over that once in a lifetime vacation.

I don't know about you, but I don't have multiple chandeliers and a hot tub in my bedroom ... (though I will own up that I have a chandelier over my claw foot tub and that's pretty close to being on vacation)
Arguably worse is when we take our microscope and put someone else on the stage. "Well, at least I didn't do THAT/have THAT disease/have THAT happen to me."

Bless her heart.

In case y'all ain't from the glorious South ... bless her heart is often another way to say "perk up your listenin' ears y'all cause I'm about to gossip!" Ain't pokin' fun ... when I get riled up I recon I still talk like this.

It isn't a blessing at all but a curse on them and on ourselves. Man, you won't find me in line wanting to be a Pharisee ... but if we aren't careful sometimes in trying to make ourselves feel better about our own situation we become modern day Pharisees and separate ourselves from the people we should be serving alongside.

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, than I am not a sinner like everyone else ...' - Luke 18:11

In Biblical days, no one had mirrors in every room and HD clarity screens reflecting polished and airbrushed lives back to them. Most translations of 1 Corinthians 13:12 ("For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face." - NIV) use adjectives that do not imply the modern devices of perfect glass coated with pure metals: imperfectly, puzzling reflections, dim, darkly, in obscurity, indistinctly, blurred. They weren't even capable of knowing their features well enough to waste the time of them we do.

But comparison must be part of human nature, because there are warnings against it.

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galations 6:4-5

When Satan keeps us busy comparing ourselves to others ... at the park, on the jogging trail, at work, on Instatwitface ... we aren't carrying our load. We aren't helping others carry theirs.

And here is joy ... picking up the burden shoulder to shoulder with others whose lives do not mirror our own. Love and peace and fullness of spirit in serving each other as we were intended. Not looking at our differences or ourselves but looking at The One we serve.

Remote village in Nicaragua 
School in Nicaragua