COMPARISON IS A SLOW DEATH
Comparison is a slow death.
It has been a hot topic and yet until recently it never resonated with me, and I think because I always put the topic in a box. It’s funny how certain ideas get lost in the “that doesn’t apply to me” category, until it does (or until we get real).
Just like scripture. I often read scripture and have to say: “so how does that show up in my own life.” This takes topics or ideas deeper, to a place worthy of thought and the possibility of change. Enter my marriage. SIGH…there it is. That’s where it applies. Comparison in marriage. Now that is a slow death. And worthy of a deeper look.
I have been on a ten-year roller coaster ride of comparison one minute and contentment the next. And sad to say, the comparison game is between me and my husband. And I think this may ring true for others, too. So shall we take a closer look?
I would say it’s in the top 5 things my husband and I fight about. Yes we fight, and it usually doesn’t start out that way, but boils down to it: comparison.
For some couples, it’s quiet, where no one says anything, one or both sitting on the bitterness, only to wreak its ugly face in the audience of close friends or anyone but the actual person of comparison. Sometimes, like us, (and more like, just me) it’s in your face, swinging it around like a flaming baton.
For me, it usually goes something like this, and maybe you can relate:
“I am home with children from the moment I wake up at 6:30am until 4:30pm. I am exhausted. I am physically, mentally, emotionally, and any other type of exhausted there could possibly be. I typically see no adults, let alone talk to adults with my full attention throughout the day, and if I do it’s interrupted 50 times to correct or wipe or break up or rescue a child. I discipline, feed, cook, clean, teach, drive, and just move back and forth from distracted task after distracted task. Every. Single. Day.”
And then enter my understatement of what my husband does on the daily:
“YOU. You get to make yourself breakfast, drive your truck to work (with no kids in the backseat), talk to adults, work with your hands, and talk to more adults. Then you drive home (with no kids in the backseat). You come home, happy to be home, ready to love on your family. Because you’ve had a break. You are chock full of grace when something goes array and you’re the source of all things related to fun.”
But here is where the kicker is and where the hurt arrives. It’s not in the facts of the matter. Because the fact of the matter is that, I DO in fact stay home with the children and he does in fact go to the job site. The comparison of the day to day details is not where the hurt and bitterness and death is. No. It’s self. It’s the human condition that says “I” matter. And not just matter, but matter more. My day was harder, I need more, I deserve, I want, I’m losing, I, I, I, I. The root of comparing “me” to the other is where the self strives to be elevated, to be noticed, to be given the credit or accolades. When really that’s not how we are called to be. It is not giving, serving, sacrificing, gracious, and certainly not peace.
And frankly, peace is worth the shift.
Let's speak what is true. The truth is he wakes up in the dark of the morning to start work. He works in the blazing hot sun in long jeans and long sleeved shirts and does hard labor that I know I would likely hate after a week or two. He is bombarded with problems, phone calls and conflict. He manages a team of men who are also hot and sweaty and often exhausted themselves, trying to motivate and push and bring spirits up. He then, after all of that and more, comes home and serves. He loves me and he loves on the kids, and we partner with each other for dinner and baths and betimes, and that is on the daily. He chooses to give and give and give some more.
But for some reason when I am in the spirit of “poor me, but look at my day to day,” it is like I forget all of that. I find overexaggeration and underexaggeration morphing into sudden truths about him and myself, effectively boosting or defending the self. YUCK and OUCH. Hurtful things get spoken, positions get defended, and then by the end, we realize the game we were playing. And it kills us.
Comparison kills the truth of who we are, who the other is, the gift of who we are and how God meant us to be.
This is not something we have mastered. I am no expert on the topic, except that it lives in me. It’s there. I can either choose to ignore it, and hope it goes away on its own, or I can press into it. I can say “yep, there it is again,” and try again. The comparison game is only about self, pride, envy and discontent. And every time it shows up, I have to choose to push back at it. I have to choose to cling to the truth, not what I make up in my head about it.
In our marriage, we are one. We are called to die to ourselves, serve the other, give, and partner with each other. And so far, when comparison sneaks into the relationship, none of those things are happening. It makes you miss out. The days run in to weeks, the months into years, and then one day you wake up and it’s flashed before your eyes. I want to more than the flash.
May we look up and out of our funk, out of our comparison conversations. May we see the other for who they were made to be. May we see ourselves in the same light. That the days would be filled with joy and thanksgiving and oneness. Watch your spouse with your kids, sit with your babies, notice the gifts that they are. They are gifts to you, you are a gift to them, and they are a gift to eachother. May we take a deeper look and choose what is true this day, push against self and open our eyes to what is actually true before us.
Take 10 minutes and sit quietly and think about what is true about you and your spouse. Give time to it. Allow yourself to get out of the comparison by being active in truth. AND THEN GO SPEAK THOSE THINGS TO HIM OR HER. The truth shall set you free, and the light will not be snuffed out. Set it free in your marriage and push back the dark until the light shows up!