I’ve spent a lot of time comparing myself to other Christians, figuring out if I match up or fall short of their spiritual prowess. It’s often said that comparison is the thief of joy, and while some part of me understands that to be true, my heart is drawn towards the poisonous habit of measuring myself up against everyone around me. Am I as joyful as him? Does she ever doubt, or is it just me? Do I love Scripture as much as he does? Am I as childlike as her? Do I love Jesus like they do?
Comparison always ends with discontentment. If I come to the conclusion that my relationship with God is in some way better than another person’s, I’ve fed into a pride that leads to unfulfilling self-worship. If I come to the conclusion that my relationship with God is worse than someone else’s, I’ve fed into an inferiority complex that leads to unfulfilling self-loathing. Comparison is centered on self, but self cannot ultimately satisfy self.
What a difficult realization to come to.
I am not my own answer. I am not the solution to my own problem.
Satisfaction is not just a little deeper in my heart. True intimacy cannot be found through vulnerability alone. Peace is not a result of clearing my mind and opening space in my schedule. I can’t generate a real, unchanging hope with positive thinking. None of these are bad things, but none of them ultimately satisfy. Only Jesus satisfies.
But this makes me angry.
I don’t want to depend on someone else for my joy. I don’t want to ask Jesus for help. It’s not easy to stake myself on the promises of a God I can’t even see. I can’t even see him! Isn’t the invisibility thing strange? I know he’s technically everywhere and in everything like tress and flowers and whatnot, but don’t you ever wish you could touch his hands like Thomas and know that you know that you know he’s alive and kicking? But I am not Thomas, a man living in first century Israel who walked and laughed and learned from Jesus in the flesh. I am Savannah, a twenty-three year old girl writing from her apartment in Hillsboro Village almost two thousand years later. (And I am almost certain that Jesus isn’t coming over for dinner tonight.)
Difficult as it may be, this is what God asks of me: To trust that he knows and loves me. To trust that I can love him back. To believe that his affection and acceptance is more than enough to satisfy me for eternity. To believe that I am blessed for believing without seeing. And he promises satisfaction in return—a deep wellspring of joy in knowing and being known by him. He promises a secure identity that nullifies the need for comparison. He promises love. He promises that He can be trusted.
Oh, for grace to trust him more.