The Currents of Comparison

The problem with currents is that you often don’t realize you are stuck in them until you get thrown onto the rocks.

I am speaking both literally and figuratively, my friends.

Last week, a dear friend and I braved a crowded beach with 8 children under the age of 10. I know it is crazy, but when you don’t have AC and everyone is melting, it sounds less insane to flee toward the beach breeze like moths to the flame.

It took us the better part of an half hour to get from the car to the sand. While she was sun-screening, I was obsessively head-counting. Two on the rocks looking for crabs, two in the water on boogie boards, two getting slathered with sunscreen, two playing in the sand.

My sense of maternal pride waned as I saw a lifeguard truck approaching our crew. Our two boogie boarders had been pulled into a rip current and were dangerously close to the rocks.

A quick and calm rescue ensued, and the children were none worse for the wear. Beach: 1; Aimee and friend: 0.

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The physical current situation that played out before my eyes mirrored a spiritual situation that had been playing out in my soul the week before.

Without realizing it, I had been swept up by the strong current of comparison, and I was dangerously close to crashing into rocks of discontentment.

It’s not like I woke up last week and said, “I think I’d like to nearly drown in self-loathing and self-pity this week.” I didn’t plan on getting there, but somehow found myself being swept into the strong currents of comparison. I did not realize I was being pulled until my joy was being sucked away and self-pity was beginning to choke me.

I began in the area designated safe for swimming by the Lord, but a quick glance at Facebook here and a lingering escapist thought there began to pull me into currents I did not even feel initially. I began envying this one’s personality and that one’s vacation, this one’s circumstances and that one’s gifts. Then I began lamenting my own circumstances, the lot the Lord has assigned to me. Everyone else has family close by, we are all alone. Her thighs don’t seem to have such a flubber-like consistency, she must get to work out all the time. Man, summer would be so much easier if we had an efficient AC or a pool. 

Before I knew it, I was dangerously close to the rocks and needed an immediate rescue. Luckily, the Lord is even more aware and watchful of His children than the trained lifeguards on the beach; as such, He quickly rescued me by convicting me of my roaming eyes and ungrateful heart. He pulled me out of the dangerously swift currents of comparison and carried me back to our blanket on the beach. There, held in His strong, rescuing arms, He reminded me of His lavish love and tender forgiveness.

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward, you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73: 21-26. 

He helped me look around my lot, the little area He has designated for me in this vast ocean of life, and see all the beautiful gifts contained therein. A house small on bedrooms and slow on the AC, but big on space for entertaining college students;  a body that, while not being swimsuit fit by Cali standards, He had seen fit in which to grow  three precious boys; provision upon provision upon provision.

Suddenly, the list of things to compare and thereby complain about grew small compared to the list of graces He has heaped into my little lot.

When I stay in the lot He has portioned out for me, the ropes of my little swimming area, I get Him and the peace and purpose and contentment that come from His presence and nearness; when I start eying everyone else’s swimming areas, when I take my eyes off of the Lifeguard of all lifeguards, the currents of comparison rip me away from the gifts of the Spirit He has purchased for me.

For behold, those who are far from you will perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 27-28. 

 

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