Monday, March 24, 2014

The Comparison Trap (3 Ways to Get Free) by Dawn Paoletta {Comparison Series}


Dawn Paoletta is my guest today in the "Comparing Ourselves to Others...and what it does to us" series. I can't remember when I first met Dawn online, but I've enjoyed getting to know her over the past couple of years. You can find her writing on her blog at Enthusiastically, Dawn, as well as 5 Minutes for Faith. Please make her feel welcome here today by leaving a comment. ~ Laura

The bus ride home was always the same. Mine was the last stop, but before my stop came hers. I never knew her name; she was a couple of years older than me. We never exchanged a word.

Every day, the bus stopped right in front of her large, 2-story home, with manicured lawn. She had long, straight, caramel colored hair and always dressed well.  I saw her big beautiful house and I imagined her in her perfect bedroom, in her perfect house with her perfect life…and I ached for all I didn't have.  

Sometimes I dreamed I was her. I wanted to be all that. What I thought was all that, anyway.

Then the bus came to my stop, one street over from the second story apartment where I lived with my mom and cat. I climbed the stairs, let myself in, turned on the TV and tuned out of the life that was mine.

That girl on the bus was forgotten until I was invited to write this post on Comparing Ourselves to Others. She was buried deep in my unconsciousness, like sleeping beauty, perfectly laid out in all her beautiful splendor, a memory awakened by the proper prompt.

I believed my life was a mistake—that I was a mistake, and my only hope was to have a new life, and a new self. All was magnified unrealistically as I began looking through my distorted lenses at others and seeing all of their perfection and all of my imperfection.

Broken family, donated clothes, an unavailable, but hardworking mom struggling to make ends meet, and one, lost little girl believing The Brady Bunch was an accurate portrayal of everyone else's family.

Soul wounds are hotbeds for breeding comparison, and they need healing from a supernatural source. You cannot fix that which is unfixable. Of course I realized this as an adult, after many years of trying to fix what can only be fixed by a Supernatural God.

I realized that the girl on the bus had shown up again while talking on the phone with my best friend...about this post. I asked her to pray for me because I was struggling with this topic of comparison. I told her I was intimidated by all the other really great writers who were participating, and I couldn't hear God clearly. As the words came out of my mouth I sensed the irony.

I was sitting on the bus in my Sears Roebuck plaid pants, while everyone else had Levi’s blue jeans. Again. Their perfectly published books, blogs, and lives, compared to my perceived insignificance.

But here's where it gets good!
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentation 3:24
I know what I think is not true—because God has given me something, too. Not plaid pants, but a perfect portion. Immeasurable grace and truth, in abundance.

He's given wonderful gifts to each of us—beautiful, significant, perfect-in-Christ portions that only we can share…if we dare.

I'd like to say I don't get caught in the comparison trap or that I’m above it. I think God allowed my words to remain stuck until I was willing to tell the truth—I do still get caught in it. But the difference now is, my Savior is on the bus with me, and He helps me to see clearly. He introduces me to the girl on the bus, and I discover we are not so different after all.

God is good, God is just, and God is faithful. He gives each of us exactly what we need, and all that touches our lives is filtered by His loving-kindness, mercy and grace.

Here are three things I do when I find myself ensnared by the comparison trap:

1. I wake up: Once I realize (hello, sometimes I am dense!) I am comparing, I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

2. I smell the coffee: I focus my eyes on Him instead of others and myself. I consider His great love and sacrifice for me. (Psalm 107:43)

3. I swig and savor: We are armed with the Living Words of a Mighty Savior. So I take a big swig of that cup of goodness and drink it down into the crevices of my soul. I savor the Truth that is sweet, satisfying and soothing to my soul. I am strengthened and empowered. (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 34:8; Ephesians 6:10-17)

When I do these things, I am not only free from the comparison trap, but I am able to see that in His Kingdom, none are insignificant, but all find significance in Him.  

There’s no need to compare. There's enough to go around, friends—more than enough in Christ.

*****

Dawn Paoletta is a writer who has finally come out of the closet and is following her dream to share her life lessons and insights through writing. Having worked as a Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor most of her adult life, she is a natural coach and encourager who can’t help sharing what she’s learned along the way. She likes to serve up spiritual lessons learned with authenticity, grace and truth. Join her at Enthusiastically, Dawn where she shares Poetry, Journal Keeping, Daily Inspiration and more, fresh from the Coast of Rhode Island. 


23 comments:

  1. Oh how much I can relate. I love how your 3 tips remind me of a good cup of coffee!

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    1. Ha! Of course, my coffee loving friend- you would! ;)

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  2. Dawn, thank you for sharing your story here today!

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    1. Thanks for including me, it was a God thing getting it done, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

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  3. Awesome. Thanks Dawn and Laura...this was great...so encouraging.

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  4. Thank-you Jen, (poetlaundry) for sharing this link 'cause you 'just knew;)'

    Thank-you, Laura and Dawn. It's SO easy to believe everyone else somehow has it more together. Yes, this is an encouragement to all women/writers. By God's grace we go for His glory.

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    1. Yes, keeping our eyes on Him, for His glory! Think I will tape those words on my bulletin board over my desk -Thanks, Janet!

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  5. Appreciate this so much, love you.

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    1. You are such an encourager, Denise! Thanks for reading and commenting. ;)

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  6. Love your three step antidote Dawn...the power of putting it all in perspective - the kingdom perspective!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. I like the way you put that. Yes, Kingdom perspective is what is needed. Daily!

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  7. I want to drink your kind of coffee! I was a girl like that, riding a city bus in the morning, watching the early morning lights in houses that contained that Brady Bunch family - and I wanted that - the mom + dad + children (me) = family + love + security + value.

    I learned, though, that we all struggle - with ways that cut to our soul - not necessarily the same way - it doesn't have to be. I've learned that the person behind the big red door of the shabby chic house struggles just me behind the grey door of the orange pumkin house. Learning that liberated me:)

    Sweet, heart-felt post of the comparison struggle. I was right there with you, riding, too. Loved your St. Augustine quote:) One of my fav St. Augustine quotes is that both the pagan and the christian struggle - the only difference is that the christian has God!

    Thank you for sharing your heart. It blessed me!
    ~Maryleigh

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    1. Maryleigh, I so appreciate your words. And I do agree that we do all have different areas but the struggles, pain and feelings can lead to the same dead end places. Oh, that Augustine quote you mentioned is key... really, so true. We can relate, remember what that feels like- to be without God in the struggles... and that should give us great compassion towards those without this Amazing Grace in their lives. He is the difference. Thanks for making me ponder further!

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  8. I know that girl you once were, because I was her as well. Thank you for telling the truth about soul wounds and your steps towards healing as well.

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Even if I didn't want to at first! I think sometimes we bury the hurts and want to forget the past, but when God reminds us , it usually leads to a beautiful place of freedom, healing and grace.

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  9. This is so good, Dawn! I was just thinking this morning about how easy it is to compare either up or down, but neither are good.

    But this is:
    "I know what I think is not true—because God has given me something, too. Not plaid pants, but a perfect portion. Immeasurable grace and truth, in abundance."
    Amen!

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    1. You are so right, both lead us away from what really matters. Great point! Thanks for chiming in, Lisa!

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  10. Dawn,
    This is great....and I can relate...I didn't have the nicest clothes growing up...and yes, only God can heal those deep soul wounds...Thank you for your beautifully honest post :)

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    1. Dolly, thanks for your affirming words and for sharing the post! The beauty of growing up (in His grace especially) is we realize we are not alone in our feelings, struggles and this also brings healing and freedom, as we risk exposing ourselves.

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  11. I am late to this party but oh my goodness, how I needed to read these precious words today Dear Dawn! Wow, this was perfection! Thank you for sharing your heart.

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    1. Hi Susie, well, late to the party is better than never, right? Thanks for reading and I am glad they encouraged. Hugs!

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!