Celebrating Others Without Comparison
Last weekend, I drove to Oklahoma for my friend Shelby’s bridal shower. I am so genuinely excited for her to experience the gift of marriage that it makes celebrating her upcoming wedding really easy.
However, bridal showers weren’t always easy to attend. In fact, this was my first bridal shower as a married person. While I loved showering my other friends who were soon-to-be brides, doing so as a single person was much more challenging.
The other woman in the picture is Brooke, who was married several years ago. At the time of her shower, I was in my senior year of college and really wanted to meet someone. Celebrating her was fun, but it brought mixed emotions because it reminded me of what I deeply desired. Therefore, it stirred discontentment.
Flash-forward two more years, and I was a bridesmaid two more times. All three of these instances were such an honor, but I have to admit that it got easier as my relationship status went from single to dating to engaged to married.
This is not to say that we cannot feel genuine joy for loved ones around us who are experiencing monumental life changes. It’s simply acknowledging the elephant in the room: the unspoken restlessness that arises when we hand over kitchen utensils or a flannel blanket and dream of our own home. I mean to vouch for the woman who longs for a family and is in the middle of a community of mamas. I’m recognizing the employee clapping for someone else’s promotion or retirement and dreading their own position. Celebrating others without the sting of discontentment is downright difficult.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we are called to fake our emotions. How can we celebrate someone who is experiencing what we want? [The job promotion, the marriage proposal, the baby on the way…]
We simply must quit the comparison game. Comparison only leaves us with fear or cynicism. Whenever we compare our situation to someone else's, we focus on the temporary. Instead, we need to focus on using the temporary circumstance to allow God to teach us about His timing.
God operates with eternity in mind. When we take on an eternal perspective, it is easier to let go of our discontentment.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18)
Any time we feel momentarily afflicted, we must remember no difficulty we face here will compare to the glory of what is to come. Whenever we feel slighted, it's important to remember that God sees us. He knows what we desire, and He notices our efforts. Read this post for more on that.
Truly, the best is yet to come. Repeat that to every single person, every couple trying to have a child, every employee dissatisfied at work. No hardship we experience now will ever outweigh the “eternal weight of glory.” Just as scripture encourages, this glory is “beyond all comparison.”
If you feel the urge to compare, compare your temporary situation to your eternal one. How can whatever you're going through prepare you in terms of eternity? Is the temporary situation teaching you patience? Endurance? Steadfastness?
This doesn’t make our temporary situation any easier. It simply provides hope in the middle of our mixed emotions. If we feel like comparing ourselves to others, it would be much better to compare our situation now to our situation in eternity. That’s the only comparison that will bring purpose to our pain.