Comparison Fatigue

Comparison is the death of joy.

Mark Twain

As the days of 2017 are coming to a close, the wisdom of Twain accompanies me. Like an I-phone reminder which continues to ring an alert if not tended to, so too is this quote moving in and out of my consciousness. Now I must tend to it.

It is unwise to negate the tenacity that comparison possesses in our lives, especially given social media platforms that one can consume from one’s armchair in practically an instant. It’s downright easy to view the successes of friends in life and love from the screen, but cognitive dissonance comes into play because “through the screen” is not tangible. While it’s super real for the folks who are experiencing the life moments that they post, it isn’t necessarily real for the viewers insofar as it being visceral, or even reality. There is a disconnect from the pains and joys, the boredom and adventure, the trust and mistrust, the hesitation and elation, the static and change, the passion and numbness of all that is behind that life moment posted. The depth through a screen can never be a deep as the living of the moment.

And so, we know this, yes. And yet… we allow comparison to creep in, even though we can feel it coming, like a dreaded attack of gout. We compare ourselves, our lives/successes/pains/shortcomings/anxieties to the thing on the screen or the thing our pal is going through or the points that others we know are at in life. And because of the disconnect, the comparison always, always leaves us feeling less than good enough. Surely no one else experiences this or that, we convince ourselves. Instead, life is super fly for them.

And slowly comparison fatigue sets in and our joy fades into something akin to jealously laced with greed or listless regret. Which is to say, we watch life happen rather than live it. And that is like the shell of the turtle without the turtle living in it.

I wished to live deep and suck the marrow out of life. The mass of [humans] lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with a song still in them.

Henry David Thoreau

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Regarding Wisdom: A Pastoral Prayer

O God, we find ourselves, along with all of creation, made in your image.
We are made in your likeness; image-bearers of the divine.

Knowing this is deeply meaningful and ministerial.

But even with this knowledge, sometimes in the midst of loss, or fear, or especially political, personal, communal, and spiritual uncertainties,

It is easy to forget this image-bearing business.

It is easy to forget that we are not only made in Your image but that You, the source of Wisdom, dwell among, intimately near.

So today, O God,
we ask that wisdom, in all its forms, would not be elusive,
but that it would be readily found. 
We know that it can sometimes be tough to have the wisdom to stop trying or to keep trying.
It can be tough to know when self-care is a must,
It can be tough to know which words would be harmful and which would be helpful.
It can be tough to know one’s worth amongst feelings of inadequacy and shame.
It can be tough to sort out God’s promises among many competing voices.
It can be tough to know how to love someone because love is imperfect.

Oh God of whom, we are image-bearers,
It can be tough to know when to help a neighbor,
It can be tough to know how to give radical hospitality,
It can be tough to know how to stay at the table we’ve gathered around.
It can be tough to know how to care for all of creation,
It can be tough to know how we can make a difference.

Uncertainty and doubt, O God, are more frequent visitors that we would like.
They can be powerful and convincing.
And as much as we want to rush forth with an answer, a solution, a revelation,
perhaps the wait time, the time of parenthesis,
is where we find wisdom.
Wisdom to remember, Oh God,
that we, along with all of creation, are made and held in Your image.

Amen.