Freedom from Comparisons

Freedom from Comparisons

by Olivia (Livi) Tolbert (the class of 2017)

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

I began to study ballet seriously at the age of thirteen, which is considered quite late for the majority of dancers.  It was easy to look at the other dancers and feel worthless. I stayed in a younger class for a year, and it was very discouraging that a fifth grader could land a sequence when I— an eighth grader— could not. Whenever the time would come to go out and dance a new choreography, I never felt comfortable standing in front of fifteen people and performing a sequence I barely knew; and when I did know it,  I messed up frequently. The other girls had been dancing years longer than I, and it was very evident in all of our exercises. After a particularly devastating experience (which was meant to inspire me and not depress me), I made a vow I would never step on the dance floor again. Yet God brought to my mind that He is everything I will ever need, and though I may stumble around during my double and triple pirouettes, He still loves me: no more and no less than everyone else. A quintuple pirouette with a proud heart does not bring glory to God, but a single pirouette with a humble heart may show His glorious name.

While we may fail in this world, He never leaves us. While we may compare ourselves to each other, He does not. It was never a part of His plan for His people to compare themselves to each other. In I Corinthians 12, Paul instructs the Church in the different gifts of the Spirit, and these instructions can be applied to everyday life as well.  Paul says:“…There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (emphasis added).

These verses are so precious because of the uniting of the different gifts and the uniting of the Church body. While we may see one job or act of service as more godly or worthwhile, to God all are equally important if done with a heart that pleases Him. When comparing myself to others, I could not bring glory to God. Comparison stole away the joy that God had given me to experience. Yet when I go out to dance with my head up, courage in my heart, and the spirit of God in me, I can bring glory to His name, no matter what anyone else does.

Luke Shawhan