Moments in the life of a Pastor

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 50 Obsessive Comparative Disorder – Part 1

Galatians 6:4-5

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct”

Are you struggling to find contentment in a culture of comparison?  Is your life not measuring up to “Pinterest-worthy” living?  If you can relate, you are not alone! Millions of people struggle with this destructive temptation to compare. But constantly comparing yourself to others steals your joy and can hinder you from finding God’s design for your life.  In the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Christians experiencing depression and anxiety due to their constant checking of Facebook and other social-networking media. The constant bombardment of “happy” pictures, status updates, and videos has given us a new word in the English vocabulary, FOMO, the fear of missing out. The Oxford English Dictionary describes this as “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” Viewing the lives others are living is often translated into an inadequacy in our own lives. Or worse, we begin to wish we could be somewhere else or even more deadly be someone else. It causes us to live in fear instead of freedom. So much time is wasted fearing what we are missing that we don’t see the blessings that exist right in front of us. We trade real life for a fantasy. I will never forget a speaker at a conference showing us a beautiful picture of his family taken on their vacation. It looked like the family all of us would want but while a picture can paint a thousand words it also often leaves some out. He went on to share the truth behind the picture that his family were fighting with each other before the picture was taken and after. They had just stopped to posed long enough to give the impression of a fun-loving family. Sometimes what we see and long for is a fake! We can spend so much time converting other peoples lives that we stop living ours. Connected to this FOMO affliction is “the new OCD” Obsessive Comparative Disorder. This is the compulsion to constantly compare ourselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us to depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around joyous discontent. Comparing ourselves to others is not a new phenomenon; it has been a part of man’s downfall since the beginning of time. It’s what led Eve to take the forbidden fruit and their children to fight and the first murder. It’s also what led the Israelites to the disastrous desire to be like other nations and have kings, 1 Samuel 8:4-7 “So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have. But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”Comparison causes us to take our eyes of Christ and put them on others. It causes us to forget who we are because we forget whose we are. In contrast, Scripture urges us to be content, 1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Comparison moves us from contentment to coveting and ultimately disappointment and despondency. What about you, are you caught in the comparison trap? Do you find yourself constantly comparing, physical appearance, jobs, status, houses, vehicles, families, possessions? The list of things we can compare is not only endless its exhausting. In 2 Corinthians 10:12 Paul called comparing foolish, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” After all we called to become more like Christ not others. So what if we focused our attention and energy more on Christ and less on comparing!