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The problem with comparisons

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I spent my weekend helping with a NATRC Competitive Horse Trail ride at Kanopolis State Park in Kansas. The riders traveled with their horses from Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas to compete. Teams ride thirty or more miles in two days on a mapped out trail. It is not a race, but it is a timed event. The riders are challenged with obstacles throughout the course and the horses are checked regularly for soundness and pulled from the competition with any sign of distress.

As I watched the awards presentation on Sunday afternoon, I was amazed with all of the riders and horses. I realize it is a competition, but in some ways it seems wrong to compare one team with another.

These folks take on the challenge of a difficult ride and they all work so hard to care for their horses. Again, I know they are all competing for national points, but I admire each of them.

Before I was pregnant with my son, I participated in this sport for several years. I remember struggling with each ride physically, but also mentally. I was a good rider, but in comparing myself with others, I didn’t always feel like I was doing all that great.

However, when I learned to compare myself against my last performance or my horse to our last ride, I began to feel like I was winning. Actually, anytime that I was able to relax and ride with my friends in the beauty of creation, I was winning.

Comparing yourself to other people is not always beneficial, but it’s almost human nature to go there.

How often do you compare your physical appearance to another person’s? Do you ever compare your bank account balance to someone else’s? How about ability or gifts?

My husband and I have been saying “I love you more” for almost twenty-four years. Some days it is a true comparison, but in the end, we both win.

For example, I know he loves me more when he cleans up after my dog or on the occasion that he has stepped out of his rubber boot while helping me do chores. Just the thought of this “city boy” landing his foot in the cold, slimy mud while helping me, proves he might love me more.

He also puts up with my “crazy” and has not once refused to forgive me.

In exchange I don’t complain when I have to sleep on the couch because he is snoring or when yet another Jeep follows him home.

Isn’t it a good thing that God does not compare his people?

Some people believe that comparison will not only divide people, but it causes disillusions and destroy.

“The only true antidote to comparison is contentment, which begins with a thankful heart. The comparison trap compels us to turn inward, to focus on ourselves, what we lack, what caused our discontentment. Thankfulness, on the other hand, compels us to turn our attention to others. It’s like a salve over a fragile or damaged heart. When we are thankful, we don’t see what we lack. Instead, we see the generosity and faithfulness of a good Father and are compelled to meet the needs of others.”

Are you serving others?

If you error, error on the side of grace.


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