Dear Christian Sister,
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about comparison and contentment. My church’s women’s’ ministry is currently going through a series by Melissa Kruger called “Contentment,” in which she discusses these concepts.
Recently, in our small group time, one of the 20-something single ladies was sharing about her struggles at work. She has just recently moved to the area, is looking at churches, and juggling a brand new job. When she had shared, one of the other ladies who is married and has multiple children said, “oh, you think you’re busy now? Just wait until you have kids!”
I’ve heard some of the women in my community tell others things similar to this. “Oh you think you’re busy, wait until you’re married.” And then when you do get married, the comment is, “Wait until you have children.” And then when you have one child, it’s, “Wait until you have 2… 3… 6… 7.” I’m guilty of it too. I know that none of these women are intentionally hurting the feelings of others, but where do these responses come from?
What does that say to our sisters? Does that encourage or edify them? What does that say about us and our hearts? Rather than seeing it as an opportunity to encourage and disciple one another, it’s seen as a threat or a competition. Or a reason to complain about our own situation. Each stage of life comes with its unique challenges and blessings. We really can’t compare them.
When we respond this way, what are we saying about God? If we really believe that God is sovereign, what are we saying to Him when we compare our situation to someone else’s? Essentially, we are saying that His plan isn’t right for us and we have a better idea of what we need. Instead of resting in His omniscience, we lean on our own “wisdom.”
We can all look back on a stage of life and say to ourselves that the things we thought were so difficult then really aren’t as significant now. Things we struggled with in high school we could easily handle with grace today. That’s called growth. For the Christian, that’s called sanctification.
The Lord is sanctifying us all, according to His purposes, according to His intimate, sovereign knowledge of who we are individually, what we can handle, and how our lives fit into the greater plan He has for His creation.
Since we all play a different part in God’s plan, when these scenarios come up, instead of responding with how something in your life is even harder, try relating to your sister. Have you gone through something similar? What did you find particularly encouraging? What helped you through it? Don’t respond with a scoff. Let go of comparison. Maybe they just need you to listen. Respond with grace, with compassion, with love & truth.
There is a way to lovingly remind our sisters of God’s goodness and a way to lovingly speak truth into their life. The Christian life isn’t a competition, it’s not about whose circumstances are more difficult. The point is not to determine who has the worst situation. The point is sanctification. The point is community. The point is to edify the church. The point of the Christian life is to grow more like Christ every day.
Luke 6:45 tells us, “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” The people around us and the circumstances we find ourselves in do not make us respond in one way or another. Our own hearts do. What is in our hearts becomes our thoughts, feelings, and words. Our words and responses are controlled by our hearts.
If your response in a small group setting is to discredit what a sister is feeling because you think your set of circumstances is harder, you need to examine your own heart. Are you discontent in your own situation? Are you struggling with comparison? What is at the root? At the end of the day, all of that comparison & discontent boils down to the sin of covetousness.
So what is in your heart? Are you truly rooted in Christ?
Real, lasting change happens in the heart. And we need Christ to help us change our hearts. Through Him, we can let go of the temptation to compare and we can find contentment in Him.