Trading Comparison for Gratitude
By Laura Bailey
“Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” - Genesis 29:16-18, NIV
Anxiously sitting in the salon chair, feet hanging inches from the floor, my oldest daughter eagerly waits while a “fairy godmother” transforms her into a princess. Spinning her around, my husband and I exclaimed, “Oh! How beautiful you look!” My daughter’s smile quickly dissolved as she whispered, “but am I more beautiful than my sister?”
My husband was gob-smacked that amid such a glamorous experience, she would ask about her sister. I shrugged it off, “that’s just girls.” Though I tried to excuse away my daughter’s comments, deep down, it bothered me that at such a young age, she was dealing with comparison. But, honestly, even in my late thirties, I still struggle with the same feelings.
One of the most harrowing stories for me to read is about Leah and Rachel, both women’s lives plagued by comparison and envy ( Genesis 6: 16-30). On the surface, it’s easy to commiserate with Leah. Who wouldn’t be a little upset if your husband announced that it was actually your sister he wanted to marry? And if it wasn’t bad enough to share a husband, there was a race to see who could bare the first child ( Genesis 29:31).
Rachel was barren, so she decided she would start her family by giving her female slave to her husband ( Genesis 30:1-6). In today’s culture, that seems a little extreme, but don’t we do the same thing? When we focus on what others have, instead of being grateful for what God has done in our life, we often take matters into our own hands– typically making a mess of the situation.
Leah and Rachel’s sisterly rivalry was the cause of much pain, strife, and discord, but God still used these two women to build the house of Isreal. It is from these sisters that the 12 Tribes of Israel are formed, with Jesus descending from the tribe of Judah.
Comparison leads to feelings of jealousy, discontentment, and ungratefulness. It can hold such a tight grip on our hearts that it ultimately shapes everything we do. We doubt ourselves, and our thoughts are plagued with questions of accusation and entitlement.
Why did they get that job and I didn’t?
Why do they look like that, and I look this?
“Why do things seem so easy for them while I feel life is a struggle?”
Everything about you, God created purposefully. Nothing is by chance: your hair color, eye color, race, and where you live. He has a plan designed specifically for YOU, not the woman next to you, YOU!
I readily admit that it can be challenging to be genuinely happy for others, especially during a difficult season. Resist the urge to compare circumstances, ask the Lord to fill your thoughts with gratitude, and provide you with peace and contentment.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Do you find yourself stuck in a comparison trap? Take a minute today and ask the Lord to help release you from feelings of discontentment or jealousy. Make it a daily habit to write down the many ways God has blessed you, thanking Him for all He has done in your life.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/natalie_board
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