" COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY "  - Theodore Roosevelt

      Ol' Teddy possessed some wisdom, did he not ? His quote above is profound because it is so true ! In both young and old alike I see a common practice that results in folks losing their joy. It is looking around at the other guy and thinking he is smarter, better looking, thinner, richer, more creative, more interesting....just all around better.

It is called COMPARISON - a clever ploy used by our enemy the devil. He is clever at making us feel as though we just aren't measuring up. It is a lie and we buy into it hook line and sinker.

Don't get me wrong...all of us can improve in all areas of our lives and others can be an inspiration to us to better ourselves. I am not speaking of those whose lives are good examples which then in turn motivate us to try to do better. What I am speaking about is how folks have a tendency to continually measure themselves against the lives of others and inwardly come to the conclusion that they are somehow inferior.

Let me ask you a question....how many people in your life do you TRULY KNOW ? What I mean by that is, how many folks would you classify as extremely close, intimate friends who you know through and through ? If we are all honest, I dare say that we could all count them on one hand....and if all five fingers were up that would be a high count. Because of that, we are constantly making assumptions and arriving at conclusions about others when we really do not know their whole story.

Case in point - When my children were very small, I can remember a family on base ( my husband was in the Marine Corps back then ) who seemed picture perfect. While my kids were picking their noses and trying to wipe boogers on each other for fun, her kids were sharing their toys and saying and " please " and " thank you " to each other....all the time. When our young sons would grab the bottom of their tee shirts and lift them up to wipe their runny noses while out playing, her boys would run up to the porch were all of us moms were sitting together and dutifully ask for a tissue.

Case in point #2 - When my kids were little , I can think of other families in our church who just seemed to have it all together. When my kids were plopping down on the whoopie cushion that they snuck into the service, their kids were sitting perfectly with their hands folded in their laps. When my teenagers were sleeping with eyes closed and snoring softly, their teens were focused on the preacher, intently listening to the sermon and taking notes. I would notice the fourteen year old two rows over who had spit shined dress shoes on and then glance over to my fourteen year old who was sporting his worn in TImberland boots ....that were always untied....no matter how many times he was told to tie them.

Need I go on ?

Back then, I can distinctly remember sometimes thinking that perhaps we were messing up somehow. Just simply fumbling the parental football. I would occasionally fall into the trap of thinking that I KNEW these other families simply from what I could see and observe when in reality, I didn't know them at all. Truth be told, as time went on and as I became more aware of these other folks, I realized that they were dealing with some very real and deep issues and struggles that mere acquaintances knew nothing about. The outward appearances revealed very little about the inward hurt and pain that was being lived out and experienced behind closed doors. All of a sudden, our kids and their crazy antics and short comings became something that I obsessed less about. I began to focus on just our family and how my kids measured up to what God says about raising kids, but not on how our family compared to others. That is a key difference that makes all the difference.

What are you fretting about today ? What or who are you comparing yourself to ? Are you feeling inadequate or inferior because you are watching someone else and thinking that you don't measure up ?  If you are . then stop. Their path is not yours, their story is not yours and their challenges are not yours. You also most likely do not really know them. You may know about them, you may watch them from a distance, you may think that you have them all figured out , but chances are that you don't. In fact, if you did, you would maybe even be thankful that you were not in their shoes.

Next time that you look in the mirror, be thankful for the person that you see staring back at you. You are not perfect, no one is. There are physical flaws for sure. There are areas to always be striving to improve in and we should attempt to do so. But one thing is certain....that person staring back at you from the glass is someone you know. You know your own story and all of the good and bad. You know your strengths and weaknesses, your secrets and the outward mask that you show. The only other one who truly knows you is your creator who made you. He knows us best...thank God.

So the next time you are tempted to be down on yourself because you are comparing yourself, just don't. Refuse to fall into that trap where the devil loves to steal your joy.

Instead, look only at yourself, then at your God.
After all, He made you , He formed you, He designed you.

He knows your shortcomings, your victories.
Compare yourself only to HIM ...nobody else...

and you will keep your joy !