Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

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How to Avoid the Comparison Trap That Kills Friendships

How to Avoid the Comparison Trap That Kills Friendships

Of all the insidious ways a friendship can disintegrate, comparison must be one of the worst. Because it cuts at the very heart of what your friends most want to share and celebrate with you or you with them. The thing your friend is the most excited to share will become the thing she wishes she could hide to prevent your jealousy. And jealousy will eat at the heart of everything you love the most.

Here are three practical ways to make sure that doesn’t happen:

1. Dare To Encourage Instead of Compare

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).

I’m convinced that Christ’s Kingdom was always intended to be a co-op and never a competition. After my own battles with comparison I’m almost fanatical about my insistence that the best antidote to jealousy is choosing instead to encourage. Because it’s the only thing I’ve found that solidly works. The moment I start to feel that sinking feeling of dissatisfaction welling up in me, I know I need to message a friend, give her a call, or post a note telling her what I love about what she’s doing. I need to deliberately write down how all the ways she’s running confidently in her lane inspire me. Because the more I focus on how her work blesses, the less I’m able to want it for myself. It’s hard to hate something that inspires you.

There is power in speaking words of blessing and encouragement over someone else. Proverbs says, “The power of the tongue is life and death— those who love to talk will eat what it produces.” Proverbs 18:21 (ISV). A vivid picture - the words we speak will either be the hearty, healthy food that satisfies or the empty junk food that leaves us feeling bloated and dissatisfied.

Speaking all the ways that your friend encourages you through her one-of-a-kind way of living out the purpose God’s put on her life will fill up your hungry spaces with the satisfaction of truth instead of the bitter crusts of comparison.

2. Guard Your Friends From Jealousy

When one of my kids gets what’s supposed to be a special, one-on-one treat they can’t seem to restrain themselves from rushing into the house when they get home and announcing what they got to everyone else who was left behind. No matter how I prep them, no matter how I tell them it’s unkind to brag about our blessings, they still hurtle into that house and bust a frenzied, delighted gut sharing the giddy list of all the things that their siblings missed out on. It makes me crazy.

But we grown ups who should know better, sometimes we’re just as reckless with our blessings as my five year old. It’s one thing to take delight in God’s good gifts, it’s another thing entirely to paint them in Technicolor and list them in excruciating detail for everyone around us. Joseph learned the hard way what kind of effect that had on the people around him. We would do well to learn from his experience.

There is a time to share our opportunities, accomplishments and joys. But there’s also a time to treasure them in our hearts, content with private delight. This is becoming harder and harder in a culture that glorifies sharing every tiny detail of our lives. But we can do better. And if we love our friends deeply then we’ll be deeply concerned with their well-being and we’ll handle our news and their hearts with extra care and consideration.

3. Be Careful If and How You Confess Your Jealousy

Growing up Christian we’re taught to confess our sins. And while it is sometimes healthy to confess our sins to the person we’ve wronged, sometimes it’s a case of making ourselves feel better at the expense of making our friends feel worse. This seems to me especially true in the case of jealousy. Confessing jealousy to the person you’re jealous of, leaves them in a very uncomfortable spot because there’s nothing they can do about it. Except maybe start to feel bad and horribly self-conscious of themselves. They can’t unmake their gifts and opportunities, and we shouldn’t expect them to.

If we want to bring jealousy out into the light, what we need is a safe friend who can be a safe vault for all those dark feelings. Let’s process the lie that says, “I don’t matter if I don’t have what she has” with someone who can’t be hurt by that confession.

This kind of confession to a third party helps keep your initial friendship untainted. It gives your friend a gift she’ll never even know about - the gift of continuing to walk confidently in her calling without doubting herself. And without being afraid of how it will impact her friendship with you. In that way, you become the blessing to her as well as a wall of protection around her - guarding her plot in the Kingdom from the enemy who would love nothing more than to sow doubt and insecurity into what she’s been asked to grow for the family of God.

Lisa-Jo Baker is convinced that the shortest distance between strangers is a shared awkward story. She has been the community manager for www.incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world, for nearly a decade. She is the author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood, as well as the creator of The Temper Toolkit and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband and their three very loud kids, where she connects, encourages and champions women in person and through her blog, lisajobaker.com. She’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @lisajobaker.

Image courtesy: Pexels.com

Publication date: April 7, 2017