“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Competition can play a huge part in our lives – no matter how big or small – however it’s up to us to decide what kind of impact we allow it to have. The idea for this post was largely influenced by a book I recently read by Lisa Bevere, called ‘Without Rival’, which has had a great impact on both my mentality and ability to handle recent situations that I have found myself in.
In ‘Without Rival’, Lisa acknowledges that rivals are inevitable, yet we are able to find purpose in them, once we understand that God places them in our lives for a reason. We just have to find out what this reason is. Lisa speaks to the reader as a friend, mentor and teacher, explaining the power of God’s word and the power that we have within ourselves to live out our lives unrivalled, and reach our greatest potential. She uses this book to address women and some of the struggles we may be facing in regards to our identity and purpose within God’s kingdom, however the topics discussed can be applied to a number of situations that most young people face, for example the temptation to give in to unhealthy comparisons and rivalries, questioning our power to be heard and the inability to remain focused on our individual purpose. The main focus of the book is to remind us that we have been created uniquely in God’s image and that there is no one that can be us better than we can.
More importantly, Lisa tells us that “What really matters in the midst of all the ebb and flow is who you are and to whom you belong”. The stories and testimonies that she shares remind us that giving in to the temptation of comparison or trying to be someone else’s idea of ‘enough’, can dangerously consume us. Lisa reminds us that we belong exclusively to God and therefore should never allow anyone to distort the image that we hold of ourselves, to an extent where we are made to question our faith or our place on earth. This was something that really resonated with me after recently finding myself in a situation where I had let my own fears and emotions get the better of me, forgetting myself in the process.
It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to be like the people we see or interact with, so much so to the point where we can begin to become unhealthily obsessed with being ‘better’ than someone that we feel looks better than us, has more qualities or material possessions than us, or is able to do or achieve more than us. When we try to be like someone else, we’re ignoring the assets that have already been gifted to us and instead strive hard to fulfil a purpose that isn’t meant for us.
As Roosevelt said, comparison can steal away our joy, and can have a detrimental impact on our self-esteem and mental well-being. Even more so, we may begin to focus more on the person we are comparing ourselves to, rather than on our own goals that we are trying to achieve. If we choose to buy into the idea of the survival of the fittest, it may be that we begin to waste all of our energy on trying to bring down our competitors as opposed to working on ourselves or genuinely working hard to be the best we can be.
In acknowledging that we are enough, and remembering this every time we find ourselves at a point where it is easy to compare ourselves with someone else, we are able to remain in control of the positive perceptions we hold of ourselves. In doing so, we’re more likely to strive to achieve the things we want to do, rather than become consumed by the actions of our competitors.
If anything, our greatest rival should be our past self, allowing us to use our past trials and tribulations as lessons and constantly work towards being the best version of ourselves.
Giving in to the temptation of comparison limits our ability to fulfill our purpose.