I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy.
You know what else is the thief of joy?
- Canker sores. I have two. On my gums. Ruining my life. (I’m obviously not exaggerating whatsoever.)
- When you’re SO excited for the guacamole you’re about to make and then your avocado is brown. (Why do bad things happen to good people?!)
- When someone cuts you off in traffic and you have to resist every urge to rear-end him or her… Only because it would also damage your car. Maybe that’s just me, though. Clearly I need to work on my road rage issues.
But seriously, comparison IS the thief of joy. Honestly, I can’t even count how many times I was feeling pretty good about myself until I got on Instagram and saw that girl’s picture of her super flat stomach or that hair tutorial clip that so-and-so posted on Snapchat. It’s cool and all, but I can barely french braid my own hair and I’m roughly 110% positive that I would need 8+ hands, approximately three million bobby pins, and a set of pliers to fishtail braid someone else’s hair. (Don’t ask me what the pliers are for. I don’t know. Because I can’t braid hair.)
And I was feeling happy with the way my apartment looked… Until I got on Pinterest and saw 8,500 hacks for making your coffee table look cuter. I can only afford so much gold spray paint before my bank account dips into numbers resembling the national debt, you know? And I was more than content with our humble little life as newlyweds until I saw those Facebook albums of all those expensive vacations other just-married couples are going on.
Why is comparing so easy to do, but so hard to overcome? Comparison is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I think, unfortunately, it’s something that most people struggle with, especially women. (I mean, maybe guys too. But I’ve never heard one guy say to another, “Man, I wish I had your complexion. Your skin is just flawless.” Maybe they compare each other’s Halo skills? Do people still play Halo? Who knows.)
Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a fabulous talk about comparison called “Forget Me Not,” and in it, he says:
“. . . We spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.”
I love that. Comparing ourselves never brings joy and frankly, it’s just not realistic. I know so many people who look perfect on social media, but you know what? They aren’t perfect. They have so many things that they are struggling with, but you would never guess it based on their social media persona.
No one’s life is perfect. But who is going to go broadcast to the world every insecurity that they have? Every zit they have, every test they fail, every argument they have with their spouse? No one! So instead, we create in our minds these flawless people, then we’re frustrated when we can’t attain the perfection that we mistakenly think they have achieved.
Several years ago, I knew someone that said some very hurtful things to me. I cried to my older sister about it and I said, “She’s right! I’m terrible. I’m just a horrible, awful person!” My sister said to me, “Amy, you would NEVER walk away from a conversation with the Savior feeling bad about yourself. You would never feel like you were beyond hope or beyond help.”
All these years later, and I’ve never forgotten that poignant advice. It’s true – if we were to speak with the Savior, we would walk away every time feeling better. Even if we were talking to Him about something we had done wrong, I truly believe that we would walk away feeling motivated to be better rather than dismal and hopeless.
So if we would never walk away from a conversation with the Savior feeling bad about ourselves, why do we make ourselves feel like we’re awful? After all, we’re supposed to try to be like Jesus, right? And if He would never make us feel like we’re horrible and awful and disgusting, we shouldn’t make ourselves feel like that either.
I remember having an epiphany one day when I was reading in the New Testament. Matthew 22:36-39 records:
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The typical takeaway from this scripture is that we must love God and our neighbor, but I think there is another imperative lesson that we often overlook: we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means that the kindness and love we show our neighbor should be a reflection of how we treat and talk to ourselves.
Each one of us is of infinite, unimaginable worth. It’s time we started treating others and ourselves like it.
Amy Carpenter is the site manager and editor for LDSBlogs.com. She served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she learned to love mountains and despise snow. She has a passion for peanut butter, dancing badly, and most of all, the gospel.