Don't lose your wonder.
Ancient Chinese military general and strategist, Sun Tzu, wrote one of the most comprehensive works ever on the subject of war. His practices and words are still being read by military experts around the world, and in his masterpiece, The Art of War, Tzu said this, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Two components make up every battle. 1. The enemy. 2. Yourself. But if you look closely, there is a third. The main point of knowing yourself and knowing your enemy is that you would know how to fight because you're more aware of what the enemy brings to the fight. The enemy does his homework on you. He knows what you like and don't like, he knows your proclivities and weaknesses, he knows where you've tended to succeed and where you've struggled and failed recently. We don't want to bring a sword to a gun fight, so to speak.
Can I save you some time in your preparation for the battle with the enemy? One of his favorite strategies to attack an endlessly connected world is comparison.
To be point-blank honest with you, the one thing that has nearly killed my ministry is comparison. Oddly enough though, the more that I've sat down and listened to people, the fog has started to dissipate and I've seen that this isn't an isolated event, it's a widespread issue.
The side effects of connectedness are remarkable. I've come to understand what people mean when they say, "marriage is hard." You're so close to someone all the time that there is no hiding, and if you tried, it would immediately be suspicious. You wake up with one another, eat together, hang out with together, go to bed beside one another, it's intimacy physically, emotionally, and spiritually unlike anything else. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
The problem that social media poses is that you get the filtered version of who a person is. You feel like you know someone, where they live, what they drive, what they eat, what they do, but the bad and the ugly gets filtered out and for the most part, only the good gets posted with a preset to hide the reality. Even feeble attempts at transparency aren't solid representations of being transparent because life is lived in real time. We are in the middle of battles that we fight all day every day, and social media is simply a reflection of the victories. Even the photos we choose to post aren't simply the photo we got, but our favorite of the million we took.
Now, listen. I'm not condemning the use of social media. I use it, obviously. I don't think that social media is an inherently bad thing. (That's another topic for another post.) But for the purpose furthering our dialogue on the topic of comparison, to leave social media out of the conversation would be naive and irresponsible, because if you ask yourself, "How much less would comparison be an issue in my life if social media didn't exist?" What would your answer be?
The quickest way to lose your wonder of who God is and what He is doing in your life is to wander into the perfectly curated timelines of others and become enamored with what God is doing in their life. What God is doing in someone else's life has no effect on what He is doing in yours. Can it be frustrating? Defeating? Down right deflating? Absolutely, but the reality is that God doesn't lack the capability of working in your life and theirs.
James 3:16 says, "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." Comparison creates jealous hearts for the wrong motives.
Comparison will kill contentment and your calling if you don't kill it quickly. If God uniquely fashioned you in your mother's womb, what makes you think that He hasn't created a path that is uniquely created for you? Your path doesn't look the same as others, and that's O.K. God isn't worried about it, and you don't need to be either. Spend less time looking at how green the grass is over there and starting watering your own lawn. If you keep looking at others, you'll miss the blessings God has placed in front of you.
Quit comparing yourself to others, and don't lose your wonder.
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