the monster that always comes back

I thought I killed it. But then it came back yesterday. Several times. This monster just won’t die.

It comes out when I am on Facebook. It comes out when I am at the gym. It comes out when I am reading blogs. It comes out when I am at the store.

Comparison. It is the monster that always comes back.

The monster comes at me armed.

Sometimes it is armed with envy. “My life would be better if I were that skinny.” Sometimes it is armed with self-abasement. “I’ll never be as funny as her.” Sometimes it is armed with jealousy. “Why are some people so blessed?” Sometimes it is armed with judgment. “She looks too perfect. No one is that perfect.” Sometimes it is armed with pride. “Well, at least I’m more successful than him.”

No matter which of these weapons the monster chooses, it always has the same result: Comparison pierces my heart, and contentment bleeds out.

Suddenly, I am no longer happy with how God has made me. I am no longer pleased with the path God has me on. I am no longer filled with God’s peace.

In Psalm 4, David is once again on the run from someone. He is feeling down. He is calling out to God for rescue and justice. Yet, in the midst of that, he prays something amazing.

Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. – Psalm 4:6-7

David asks God to shine His face shine on those who are looking for prosperity. He asks for God to bless them.

When I see someone who is successful, I don’t often pray for God to make them more successful. In fact, I don’t think I have ever prayed that. I am more likely to pray that God would make me as successful as that person.

But David’s prayer is for the other person’s blessing, and his own heart.

Bless them, Lord. And when they are blessed, fill my heart with joy.

David prays for a joy that runs deeper than blessing. A joy rooted in his relationship with God. A relationship that is secure through our time in the pit and someone else’s time in the spotlight. A relationship that allows him to finish the psalm with this verse.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8

You alone, Lord, are my security. I do not need to compare to others. I need to look to You. You, Lord, bring me peace.

And so, the next time the monster comes out, I have a strategy. A defense that I think will work against any of the weapons it brings.

The next time I start to compare myself to someone else, I will pray for God to shine His face upon the other person.

Lord, when someone is more popular than me, bless them. Lord, when someone is prettier than me, bless them. Lord, when someone is more successful than me, bless them. Lord, when someone is smarter than me, bless them.

Bless them Lord, and fill my heart with joy. In peace and security, I will rest in You.