A couple weeks ago, some friends and I were running some errands on a Saturday when one of my friends suggested going through the Chick-Fil-A drive thru. I considered ordering a cone, but I figured I didn't need the calories and decided to pass. As we rolled out of the parking lot, I began to wonder why I didn't order one. I knew I didn't actually want one, but when it was right in front of me and everyone else had one, I suddenly couldn't stop thinking about that cone.
It seems like a silly example, but how often do we find ourselves thinking about those other “ice cream cones” in our lives? It's probably not a literal cone of ice cream that you're dwelling on (but if it is, you do you honey). Maybe it’s a relationship, academic success, popularity, or money that other people to seem to have more of than you do right now. We live in a world where everyone’s successes are advertised on Instagram and if we’re not careful, we can fall into a place of habitual comparison.
I genuinely believe that social media can be a great thing. After all, I’m basically getting a degree in social media. (At least I think that’s what a Communications degree is) When utilized the right way, it can serve as a tool to connect, encourage, inform and inspire. Social media itself isn’t the issue. However, issues arise when our worth is measured by comparing ourselves to the successes of others, and social media often magnifies and misconstrues those things.
I know how it feels to take a scroll down Instagram on a lonely Friday night. Laurel graduated with Summa Cum Laude. Yanny is engaged. Cardi is pregnant and has more money than me and all my friends combined. It can sometimes feel like everyone else in the world has it all together. But here’s the thing: NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER. Yes, even that girl with 3,983 likes and Carrie Underwood legs. Even the cheerleader who’s marrying the college football player and the medical missions nurse who’s marrying a doctor who just so happens to have a minor in missions so that they can serve the Lord in Africa like the saints they are. Yes, even they do not have it all together.
Social media only portrays the highlights of our lives. Most people don’t want to include eating McDonald’s alone in their car in the highlight reel of their life. Of course not. We pick the best parts and showcase them in a little square photo, hoping to prove to everyone that we are in fact happy, successful, attractive, and thriving. When things are going our way, we feel proud, confident and satisfied that people are so aware of our success. But what happens when everything is falling apart? We can effortlessly fall victim to the comparison trap.
When God hasn’t answered that prayer, brought you that guy, provided that job, given you those friends, it can be so tempting to just be resentful, bitter, jealous or angry. I have literally been there. Ever asked yourself, “OK but when is it going to be my turn?” My turn to get engaged. My turn to get the dream job. My turn to have a lot of friends. My turn to be rich and skinny and happy. The other week I was throwing myself a pity party (not a huge bash but definitely a small gathering) and someone asked me, “McKenna, what are you worshipping?” Ummmm ouch. I wanted to be like, “God, obvi” but I knew deep down that I had made a lot of things idols in my life.
Maybe you’ve idolized marriage, being successful, having money, or being well-liked by other people. We fall into the comparison trap when we can’t seem to obtain the things we idolize. Our perspective shifts from dwelling on the goodness of God to a place of bitterness because we’re so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget to acknowledge God for who He is. We complain more than we praise. We ask more than we thank. We make it about us when in reality, we exist to bring Him glory. When struggling with comparison, I have to ask myself two questions.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:2
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
To live in a way that "dares to not compare" is a daily surrender. It's choosing joy over jealousy and gratitude over greed. And I'll be the first to say that it is a struggle. But rest in the truth that there's a time and a season for everything. I specifically hope that there's a season that consists of a 6 foot 3 lawyer with a heart for Jesus as strong as his jawline, a dream job, and everything else your heart could desire, but until then, keep pressing into the Lord and being present in the very moment He has you in. I promise that it's the very best moment you can be in.
McKenna Best is a Carolina girl currently residing in the Instagram influencer capital of the world. She believes in Jesus, dancing in the kitchen, and slow mornings. McKenna is an assistant youth director and spends her afternoons working with middle schoolers in West Nashville. In her free time, you can find her eating Chipotle, making an excessive amount of Spotify playlists, writing in a coffee shop, watching The Office, or spontaneously buying a plane ticket somewhere. She is passionate about equipping youth to unlock their potential and be all that God has called them to be, whether that be through teaching Bible lessons, or writing articles for a variety of online platforms