Tuesday, October 12, 2010


1. greater in quality, quantity, etc
4. displaying a conscious sense of being above or better than others; supercilious

I know this couple.  This couple who has many giftings, who are blessed in many ways, who have unique talents.  But instead of using these things to define who they are, they most often define themselves via their relation to others.  Specifically, their superiority to others.  My husband and I have encountered this several times with them and it was initially frustrating that they always had to have the better car, bigger house, nicer clothing, etc.  But lately, it has quite simply saddened me. 

I don't mind that they have better "things" than I do.  J and I know that while we could have bigger, better things if I worked outside the home, our current situation is what we've chosen for our family.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to home school A without feeling like I am crippling the family budget.  And I'd rather have this extra time with her than have a newer, faster computer or a top-of-the-line kitchen gadget.  Even so, even knowing myself and my thankfulness for our marriage, our home, our children, it's difficult to not chafe against being around someone who constantly needs to demonstrate to themselves that they are above me.

How do you handle this? Are you able to easily see sly comments as being about the speaker rather than the one spoken to?  Are you able to stay present in the reality of your satisfaction with your life when presented with others who choose a different path, make different career choices or are simply blessed financially in a way different than your own?  Are you constantly - or sometimes, or rarely - comparing yourself to others?

Each one valuable...

Let's be honest: it's difficult to resist comparison.  It's hard to not look at your neighbor, your friend, your acquaintance, the stranger at the grocery store and not think, "Hmmm.  I wonder how she does that/ affords this/ lives there."  And if it's hard not to compare, it's perhaps even harder to not put others down when comparing, in an attempt to elevate yourself.  Even my 9 year old gets this. 

This weekend, B and I were walking through Vanderbilt's campus on our way to the football game when she said to me, "Why is it that when I see a group of people, I immediately notice the bad things about them?  Is that just human nature? And why is it that people are dressed nice, but they aren't really beautiful?  Just maybe cute?"  When asked a big question like this, I rarely give B a straight answer.  Because I don't have the answer.  But also because I think she's working these things through on her own.  If she weren't, she wouldn't even voice the question.  So we talked for a bit about what she thinks makes someone beautiful and she was able to articulate that she thinks beauty is about what's inside someone.  But she was on to something about comparison.  We do tend to 1) notice, 2) compare and 3) find lacking.  Now, we might find ourselves lacking or the other person lacking, but someone is going to be lacking.

Each one walking her own path

How do we get away from this?  How do we see ourselves as having value - not in relation to others, but simply because of who we are?  How do we see the value inherent in others no matter what poor or wise choices they make, no matter what clothing they wear, no matter what car they drive?  How do we escape the snare of superiority?


Chris and Tiana said...

Are Chris and I the couple you're talking about? You know how I only wear fancy clothes. And Chris - wow! He's a sharp dresser, wearing those plaid shirts he's kept since middle school and driving around in his Pontiac. We can't help but feel superior to everyone around us :)

Seriously, this is a great thing to think about. Someone in Bible study a couple years ago said "Comparison is the thief of joy," and that has always stuck with me. It's really true. I can be perfectly content with what I have until I see someone else who has more. Thanks for this reminder - it's something I need to think about on a daily basis.

EJN said...

I love these questions, thanks for writing them so eloquently.I love your style!
We find ourselves answering these same questions, at the end the day, I just need to settle on, those that are closest to me, and understand our choices are the voices that matter in my life. Not those that prod me into a competition I never signed up for. That is what I remind myself of, - bigger and better is not our goal - it helps me to remove the competition in my mind.

Thanks for the blog. Have a great day =o]

Gigi said...

I need to be reminded about how lethal it is to compare. Thanks! And what a question your daughter posed to you. She is thinking! I'm thankful that you have chosen this path of investing in your sweet girls! You inspire me!

WordGirl said...

Tiana - how did you ever know I was talking about you? ;-) I often think of that same quote about comparison being the thief of joy. I guess this situation just struck me because it was not only my own joy but seeing how others have their joy robbed regularly by choosing a path of comparison.

All of you - thanks for reading and commenting. I don't have the answers to the questions I pose, but I'm sure God has the answers. Sometimes he delights to reveal the answers to us (while other times holding back the answers for much, much later).