Links Daily Devotional

Comparisons Aside

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:20-22, ESV)

I am a spectator with benefits. As a card-carrying member of the LPGA Tour, I have an all-access credential to the grounds, locker room, and clubhouse parking at any event, but I no longer walk inside the ropes on tournament days. Although I have cognitively known this for five years, I felt a level of ambivalence as I walked among the crowd at the 2014 LPGA Meijer Classic.

I felt at rest that I wasn’t beating up my body and mind on the practice tee, but waves of unwelcome comparison bubbled up from within as I watched my friends play. I vacillated between feeling disconnected from the truth that this was my former life and I had a desire to walk down the middle of the fairway again.

The places of comparison were subtle and yet they were sharp arrows of self-contempt hitting tender space in my heart. I have worked hard over the past three years to honor (to weigh the good and the bad) all that I experienced as a professional golfer. And dormant embers of doubt, feelings of failure, and not measuring up to others were exposed as I strolled along.

I found myself wondering if I could still contain the first tee pressure and hit the fairway. I justified my feeling of failure with how much more advanced the young players are today than my first years on tour. I covered the attack of shame that I don’t measure up by questioning how some of my friends could still be playing.

Comparisons lead us down a path of destruction—feelings of inferiority, discontentment, discouragement, and jealousy, as well as murmuring. Comparisons are evidence of contempt and self-contempt leaking out of our heart. The enemy of our soul wants us to use comparisons to harm others and ourselves, to turn us away from following Jesus.

Peter struggled with comparison too, but Jesus put a quick stop to it. As Peter walked with Jesus, he noticed that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, came from behind and asked Jesus a question. We don’t know if Jesus answered John’s question, but we do know Jesus’ response to an abrupt question from Peter, “Lord, what about this man?” Was there contempt in this question? Arrogance? Sarcasm? It didn’t matter. Without breaking stride, Jesus disrupted Peter’s comparison by telling him, “It’s none of your business; your job is to follow me.”

Choosing comparison feels easier than following Jesus most days, especially since we live in a world where we are constantly being evaluated by our performance. As a tour player the comparisons circled around my position on the money list, place of finish each week, and world rankings. Today they surface around topics of career, marriage, and children as I navigate what’s next and hold my longings for more.

The best antidote to fight the poison of comparison is gratitude: gratitude for a Creator who loves every bit of who we are, gratitude for the people in our lives who love us in our mess, gratitude for the simple things, gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice, and gratitude for ____________ (fill in the blank). Gratitude opens the door for us to live with joy!

Tracy Hanson
August 21, 2014
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