|Jonathan McReynolds - Make Room (2018) / Amazon|
I’ve blogged about a few songs from Jonathan McReynolds’ latest project Make Room (2018), and I’ve covered the subject of comparison on this platform several times as well, but this time is different. I was listening to “Comparison Kills” in the car the other day, and it wrecked me emotionally, much like it did the very first time I heard it. As I meditated on the lyrics, God downloaded something deep into my spirit: Comparison is an inside job.
I was reminded of a quote by Thomas Cooley that completely shifted my perspective on the concept of comparison, challenging me to consider how susceptible we are to other people's opinions of us. It reads, “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am."
Whether or not we'd like to admit it, we care so much about what others think of us that we consciously or subconsciously shape our sense of self around who we ASSUME people think we are. In actuality, they probably don't think much about who we are...because they're busy wondering what WE think of them. The entire world’s system of thinking is fueled by comparison...and the root of it is selfishness.
We are, albeit somewhat inadvertently, so self-absorbed that we think everyone is watching us, waiting for our next move. This may be a tough pill to swallow, because we all like to think we’re important (and we are, in God’s eyes), but guess what? For the most part, nobody cares! The very people we look to for validation, acceptance, pats on the back, etc., are the same ones going to great lengths to make sure that they don’t make fools of themselves in front of us...and everyone else, for that matter.
“Grass was fine,/ ‘Til it looked greener on the other side...” The truth is, the illusion you see where it looks like the grass is greener is probably fake grass (fake happiness, fake success, and/or fake satisfaction with life) because they wanted their grass to look as real as yours (And yeah, I know, yours is fake, too. Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.). “Pressure gets hot,/ And with heat, come mirages/ So you think it’s cool over there...” We all take pains to make our proverbial ‘yards’ look pretty, but the pressure to do so doesn’t come from other people. It comes from within. At the end of the day, all everybody else sees is the finished product: The perfectly manicured lawn.
You spent all night admiring pictures
They make life look perfect as they
But you don’t know the picture’s story
And how long it took to make it good...
While we’re on the subject, you shouldn’t envy those with real grass either, because real grass requires more maintenance. Before you compare yourself to someone else, ask yourself if you'd really be willing to walk in their shoes. If wearing their shoes means walking the WHOLE distance in the journey to who they are now, could you really handle it?
Don't take people's stories at face value, because the story is always deeper than it looks. Don't pray for the EXACT route to success as the people you admire. Your route will be different because it's tailored to your purpose. Real grass requires real sacrifice.
The bottom line is this: Most people either judge you at the start of the journey where they can’t see your finish line, or they judge you at the end when they see what you’ve got and think that the journey was easy. They don’t know what they’re talking about because they weren’t there during your process! If you let it, comparison can kill your dreams. “It makes you chase what’s not meant to be chased/ ‘Cause you’ve possessed it all along.” Believe it or not, everything you need to succeed is already inside you! Forget about society’s deadlines and let God write your story in His time and on His terms. He makes everything beautiful exactly when it’s supposed to be (Ecclesiastes 3:11).