I am not going to lie – I definitely do it. I compare myself to other men. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently and just wanted to get to the bottom of my motives. Just to sort of check the state of my heart. For sure, I am not wishing ill towards them, or feeling some type of bitter jealousy. I am just taking stock of the men around me, and seeing if I measure up. So this is what I realized:
When I compare, I’m not thinking about looks.
I know I’m not Hugh Jackman (Rachel’s celebrity crush – and perhaps yours as well especially after The Wolverine, Logan, or The Greatest Showman <sigh>), but I’m relatively comfortable with how I look physically. I mean, I think to myself, God has made me a certain way, and I can’t change anything (without plastic surgery) and so all I know how to do is make the most of what I’ve been given. You know, exercising and eating well and getting enough sleep and drinking a lot of water. I mean, what else can we really do?
When I compare, I am also not thinking about wealth.
Really. This may surprise you, because we hear stereotypes of men comparing the types of cars they drive, or the square footage of their house(s), or the size of their bank account. But after a certain point where you’re not living paycheck to paycheck (and I want everyone to be past that point), it doesn’t matter. I’m perfectly content with my Mazda and don’t want a Tesla. Nor do I want to get caught up in wanting a Tesla (though I won’t stop admiring them on the road because dear heavens they are gorgeous vehicles…).
We hear stereotypes of men comparing the types of cars they drive, or the square footage of their house(s), or the size of their bank account. But after a certain point where you’re not living paycheck to paycheck (and I want everyone to be past that point), it doesn’t matter.
When I compare, I am also not generally thinking about position or status or influence.
I used the word “generally” because I do sometimes wish that I were a world-famous blogger. It kind of seems like the most amazing thing ever because you have the privilege of being able to inspire and give hope to thousands or even millions of your readers. But I’ve lived long enough to know that if God wants that for my future, it will happen as long as I have shown Him I have been faithful in the small things, and that I didn’t despise small beginnings. I definitely don’t want Him to exalt me at the improper time, before He thinks it is best, because I know I probably jack it up. And it will fall well short of how amazing it could have been if my heart isn’t where it should be.
So, when I compare myself to other men, what exactly do I compare?
Honestly, I compare how well I am fulfilling my role to how well they are fulfilling theirs.
I do this not to inflate my own ego, but rather to be inspired towards getting better. I just want to be inspired. Daily, weekly, monthly. I mean, don’t you? I think that if we keep our eyes open, there is inspiration all around us in the people we know and do life with. Especially if we are looking for the positive (which is hard), instead of the negative (which is easy).
I do this not to inflate my own ego, but rather to be inspired towards getting better. I just want to be inspired. Daily, weekly, monthly. I mean, don’t you? I think that if we keep our eyes open, there is inspiration all around us in the people we know and do life with.
For example, I see my friend Brandon and how he is always lovingly complimenting his wife Brigitte on Instagram. And I think to myself, dang I need to intentionally make known to more people how wonderful my Rachel is (because she really, truly is.) I see my friend Julio from children’s church, and the way he delights in his daughters and takes them on epic day trips. And I think to myself, man, I need to carve out full days to make life-long memories with my own (I have yet to spend a full day together with just my daughter or my son). I see my friend Jared getting flowers for his wife Becky, and I’m like, wow, I could so do something like that. But I just haven’t. I see my friend Danny working hard to learn new and innovative ways to love his wife Renee – even after ten whole years together. And I think to myself, oh dear God, I am too exhausted to even think about a new way to love Rachel right now.
But I need to. I want to. I know I can.
And I should up my game.
Rachel was telling me recently that comparison is only useful if it leads to conviction – that feeling when you realize that something is true and good and right – but that you’re not living in alignment with it. She pointed out that comparison leaves you where you are – spinning and fuming and stuck in a cycle of unproductive and destructive emotions – whereas conviction shows you a way up. A way to improve and get better.
Comparison is only useful if it leads to conviction – that feeling when you realize that something is true and good and right – but that you’re not living in alignment with it.
I’m looking for a way up.
I’m looking to use comparison as a way to become the best version of myself in this always-growing, always-stretching role I’m in.
What inspires you to grow and stretch yourself as a man? What motivates you to be better and do better in terms of how you love your family? I know it’s so hard to press through the exhaustion and the busyness to prioritize this. I really do get that. But we both know that this is what will matter the most at the end of our lives.
Let’s keep looking for the inspiration. And more than that, let’s act on it – making sure it translates into action. This is how we make sure we fully honor what – and who – He has given us.
Image source: https://bit.ly/2BZOChy