One of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make since moving to Maryland is coming to terms with the cost of living. Houses here (in the areas we’ve lived) cost anywhere from two to four times as much as houses in my hometown and Morgantown, both in West Virginia, which means it was never realistic that our first house would be detached. It was never realistic that our first house would have a garage. It was never realistic that our first house would have a huge yard. It was never realistic that our first house would be large enough to stay in forever.
It was never realistic that our first house would live up to what I always pictured it would be. And it doesn’t. Our house is pretty small. It’s half of a duplex. We have a really wonderful kitchen and a relatively large back yard, but that’s only because we bought a house that was literally uninhabitable and put in the blood, sweat, and tears (lots and lots of sweat and tears) required to rehabilitate it.
And as much as I love our house, and as proud as I am that we were able to save it and turn it into something great—something that we would not have been able to afford!—I still feel that twinge of jealousy when friends back home purchase beautiful homes that, here, would cost close to a million dollars (not an exaggeration). My pride is hurt when I compare my life to other peoples’ lives.
Don’t get me wrong—I am happy for them. I am happy for you! I have come a long way with my struggle with comparison. I don’t resent people who have better or bigger things than I do. Our lives are just different, and I accept that. But it’s hard. And social media doesn’t help. When I was waiting what felt like a lifetime for Andrew to propose, I wanted to punch every single girl who posted a picture of their newly adorned ring finger after getting engaged.
That was my darkest time of struggle. I don’t want to punch people who are celebrating closing on big, beautiful homes. (Really, I am so, so happy for you!) But I’m still recovering and learning that everyone’s life is different. The places we live dictate a certain standard, and that’s not personal. We do what we can within our circumstances. Similarly, we are all on different life schedules, and no particular schedule is better than another. Just different.
Here are some things I tell myself when I fall into the trap of comparison:
You’re alive, and you have everything you need.
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ~Luke 12:27 (ESV)
Lilies, which have nothing, do not compare themselves to Solomon, who had everything. It’s not even something they would think about, if lilies could think. And yet, lilies are perfect how they are.
You have a good, good Father-
-who gives good things to those who ask him (Matthew 7:11).
Stop comparing yourself to others and ask God for a better understanding of His will and His kingdom. Ask Him to give you more of Him. These are good things, and God will answer.
Life here is not permanent.
Your citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), where you will have everything you could possibly need for all eternity (most importantly, Jesus). You are just passing through, and the best is yet to come. Don’t concern yourself with shadows.
His grace is sufficient for you-
-and His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When you inevitably fail, His grace is enough, and that’s the only thing you should ever boast about.
I also like to remind myself that a smaller house means I have less to clean! But really, comparison is dumb. It’s a fantastic work of Satan, who whispers in our ears how we’re not as good as, how we’re not as pretty as, how we’re not as rich as, how we’re not as maternal as, how we’re not as smart as, how we’re not as skinny as the next person, ad infinitum. We women feel this on a daily basis, and it’s time that we, instead of wanting to punch others who may have it “better,” punch Satan instead. He’s the real culprit. He’s the father of lies. And I’ve had enough.
We have something better—someone better. (How’s that for a comparison?) We have Jesus, who knows us and knows our struggles, and says to us, “You are enough because I am enough.”
Jesus is enough.
Let’s own that.