I love my friends and I love watching them live life and soar through accomplishments. I love so many things about them. I love how much they love me. I love what selfless friends they are. I love how generous they are. I love how hard they work and how many cool places they get to visit. I love that they run half marathons and get into Yale and the Bush school at Texas A&M. I love that they love children and are good at yoga and are beautiful and kind and smart. I love that they care about the planet and know the word of God so well. I love that they make great grades, are awesome photographers, have amazing style, and are committed to so many different things.
It’s starting to sound like I love comparing myself to my friends more than I love my friends and encourage their accomplishments, isn’t it?
That tends to happen when you say “I love” 11 times in one paragraph. It starts to sound sarcastic.
It’s not. But comparison is an enticing treat filled with poison.
One of these aforementioned amazing friends said to me just the other day, “We see each other’s highlight reels not each other’s behind the scenes.”
We see the highlight reels.
Not the behind the scenes.
And sometimes it’s easily forgotten that with every highlight reel, there is a behind the scenes.
Even as I write this, I think about how one of my closest friends just chose to attend graduate school at Emory University and had to TURN DOWN YALE and I feel slightly bad about myself because I still have a semester of undergrad and I’m slowly watching my GPA drop because my new school, the one she’s attended for four years and excelled at, is harder than my old school and I’m struggling to keep up.
I’m watching her highlight reel and living in my behind the scenes. I’m living in a perpetual state of comparison because I’m an inherently selfish creature. Every day I’m genuinely proud of, and excited for, my friends. I truly and honestly want them to flourish and live all of their dreams. I desire for them to succeed in everything they try to do. But the selfish, sinful part of me sees every one of those successes as proof of my own failures.
I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who does this.
I’d like to think I can admire someone else’s beauty without questioning my own, but sometimes that’s harder than I want to admit. I wish I could appreciate how unique each person’s beauty is. I wish I could see that the stories everyone around me are living are unique to that life, and those stories can be enjoyed without the burning of another.
And while we are talking about stories, let me offer you something that could act as the most freeing thing you know: You’re story is not your own. Your story belongs to the God of the Universe.
And how dare you say the Creator’s story is anything less than perfection.
Paul wrote to the church of Galatia in Galatians 6:4-5:
Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. Assume your own responsibility.
It’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of the people around you. When you truly love someone, especially if you are loving them selflessly, you want them to succeed. You want them to live out their purpose in the best way they can. You want them to obey God, and if God is calling them to do amazing things, like have a family or go to grad school, then you should cheer them on, encourage them, and help them to pursue their purpose.
In the same way, pursue you’re own purpose. If you are “Assuming your own responsibility” then you should not be envious of someone else’s responsibility. And if you are following your purpose and obeying the calling of the Lord, then you have nothing else to be more proud of.
Think of it this way: the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, the CREATOR, the REDEEMER, the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS, is telling you to stay where you are and do your best in that seemingly pointless class? Then that just became the most epic thing that you could possibly be doing.
Because what is more epic than living in God’s story and following his purpose for your life?
That’s your highlight reel.
Live in it.
Be proud of it.
And remember that everyone has a behind the scenes. You are not alone.
Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.