Friday Discussion: Comparison, Criticism and Change: Deep Thoughts From The Grocery Store

By August 26, 2011Get Inspired

Walmart Grocery Checkout Line in Gladstone, Missouri

In the checkout line at the grocery store the other day I realized something profound.

Because, clearly, the checkout line is a  great place for profound realizations.

Looking at the magazine rack, it dawned on me that there was a HUGE difference in the article titles.

The magazines for the younger “teeny bopper” crowd had headlines like:

“Taylor Swift’s Gorgeous Hair. Learn How to Style Yours like Hers.”

Or

“5 Cool Things You Never Knew About Selena Gomez”

The magazines for the grown up crowd had headlines like:

“Jennifer Anniston’s Dramatic Weight Gain”

Or

“Brad and Angelina’s Big Fight”

What Is The Magic Age of Cynicism?

Why does age seem to transition us from dreaming and believing to criticising and tearing down? 

When do we migrate from finding life in lifting others up to finding it by pushing others lower?

We need to ask ourselves where we fall on that scale? Building or breaking?

And I’m not just talking about celebrity gossip. How do we talk about our husband’s when we are upset? How do we talk to our children when they disappoint?

And when life doesn’t work out like we hoped it would…do we still lift up the name of Jesus?

How to Prevent Comparison and Cynicism

So, back to the question: “Why does age seem to transition us from dreaming and believing to criticising and tearing down?”

The answer: because we get comfortable and stop “building.”

When we stop making ourselves better, the only way to deal with comparison is by making others look worse.

So we fight cynicism, comparison and complacency with the same weapon.

Change.

A Story

Just this week I was struggling with comparison. I “didn’t get picked” to do something I wanted to do. So, of course, I analyzed everyone who did “get picked” and I complained to myself that I was better qualified or that I could do a better job. Awful, I know.

But the bottom line is that the right choice was made. God is the orchestrator. He is not hung up on qualifications. Ask David. Ask Mary. Ask Moses.

He knows what is best and my job is to embrace what is in front of me. He doesn’t close doors of opportunity only to open windows of lesser things. He’s not out to play whack-a-mole with my dreams. Door and windows are lame. He wants to blow the roof off and do more than we could imagine. Ask David. Ask Mary. Ask Moses.

My job isn’t to compare. My job is to build. And the first building blocks? Thankfulness and humility.

So What Do We Do When Comparison Comes Knocking?

When we “build” – meaning, when we are growing and challenging ourselves we don’t have time to compare and criticize others. We need to consistently build ourselves into who we want to be and build others with our words.

When we are in the habit of building, everyone’s progress becomes our victory too.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

Do you struggle with comparison or cynicism? How do you fight it? Who can you build up today?

Leave a Comment

Comments

27 Comments

  • I am right here with you, friend. I struggle with feeling like I am not as good as so-and-so, or not a good mother because I don’t do things like “she” does.

    I often run to criticism, I think it is out of desperation of wanting to feel better about myself.

    It’s sin, it what it is.

    I fight it with scripture. I must cling to truth-memorize and study it until I understand it on a heart level. Without it, my heart and mind are free to wander and the evil one is given free reign to trample.

  • Avatar Lori says:

    Oh My! I struggle with with all. the. time. Sad, I know.
    You hit the nail on the head though – Thankfulness and Humility – those are the remedy! Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar Kat says:

      It’s such a fight isn’t it? Sometimes it’s so inspiring to know we’re all in the fight together. Thanks for your honesty, Lori!

  • Thank you for being so real and transparent! You are so right about change being the remedy, along side thankfulness and humility. There is no time to look around and compare when we are being all that we can be in the day(s) God has given us. Have to share this link on my FB wall!

    • Thank you both, Kat for writing this and Melissa for sharing it on facebook. Oh to be about the business of building eachother up! What a great and marvelous privilidge we cheat ourselves out of.

  • Wow, thank for writing that! I really hate all the negativity too, but I find myself dwelling in comparison and silent judgement more than I’d like. I excuse myself by thinking that if my judgment is silent, it is somehow more okay. And it is not, of course. Gratitude is the answer. My reminder to build my own house first:
    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Mattew 7:3-5

    • Amen! Gratitude is sooo the answer!~
      1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
      ” Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
      Whenever I am struggling with comparison or God’s will… got to start with giving thanks!
      Great, honest post!

  • Avatar Liberty says:

    I read once – even had it on my fridge for a while – that tearing down others is just a dishonest way of making ourselves seem better/bigger.
    One little building block that helps me remember that to advance my neighbor is honoring the Holy in both of us!
    my deep thought in the grocery store:
    http://www.16ballsintheair.com/2010/05/top-ten-things-to-avoid-when-grocery.html
    blessings!

  • Avatar Jenna says:

    Thank you so much Kat! Such truth in this post. Thank you for using your gift with words. This post has challenged me! I am so excited about my first experience with Maximize Your Mornings this fall!

  • Avatar Polly says:

    What a great way of putting it…this post is so true in many ways, from my relationships with my kids and to my husband and to my mom friends. Thank you for the reminder and for pointing us back to Him in how we deal with others.

    You asked who we needed to lift up? I think I’ll start with my kiddos and my husband. Thanks!

  • Avatar Glenna says:

    Wow!! I was dealing with this issue just this week. It’s like you were reading my mind. LOL Thanks for the warning and the encouragement!!!

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    Maybe I should do the grocery shopping so I can have some profound thoughts. =p

  • Avatar Kayse says:

    “He’s not out to play whack-a-mole with my dreams.”

    Yes. Oh how I needed that truth today. Thank you for this post!

  • Avatar Debbie says:

    Just what I needed to read today … thank you. I am running to His Word … powerful medicine that heals.

  • Avatar Maria says:

    I hate to say that I don’t think a day goes by without me comparing myself or something in my life to someone else. We know it doesn’t matter, but we somehow have to put ourselves up or down this imaginary pedestal with others whether it be looks, fitness, finances, etc. Your MYM program has helped me so much to start my day in what really matters — The Bible — the ONLY guideline for life! NOT those silly magazines! I find that when I’m strong in the word, I can almost fly by those tabloids without even noticing them.

  • Avatar Kris M says:

    Thanks again Kat for the reminder! You just shortened a very long argument starting between my husband and me. I decided to tell him what I loved about him rather than pointing out his shortcomings (it helped me to remember this as well!). We actually talked through a disagreement rather than yelling!

  • Avatar Rebeca says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the condemnation that creeps in when I start comparing myself with others, and actually just shared about it on my blog the other day as well. So this was a timely encouragement. Thanks.

  • Avatar Amy says:

    I am in a huge battle of comparison as my husband just lost his job. I really need to do a better job of building him up and the Lord. It’s hard when you don’t get what you want – because in the back of my mind I still look at God as the cosmic vending machine. But I need to trust in the provision of the Lord and not rely on my husband solely.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry Amy… I’m praying for you and your family as you face this challenge. May it draw you closer to one another and to Him.

  • Avatar Hannah says:

    I truly and deeply struggle with this. When I catch myself doing it, I stop and say a prayer of blessing for the person I’m criticizing or comparing myself to and ask God to change my attitude toward them and the circumstance. God is always faithful!

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    I was just thinking / praying about this one the other day – the comparison side so often leads to the criticism side for me. And the Lord reminded me that I am responsible to ‘walk my own journey’ … not hers or hers or anyone else’s, but simply the one He has placed before my feet.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar Cindy H says:

    It’s humbling when we pray and believe that God will “choose” us for a job and He chooses someone else! Kind of like when we were kids and mom picked our brother or sister to do something and not us. But, as you said, God has a plan and we have to be willing to not give up until He fits us into it.

  • Avatar Stephan Hilson says:

    Some headlines of the tabloid magazine seem shocking or surprising. I am not sure if people could prevent comparison and cynicism as a whole. But it seems a positive impression of getting comfortable and building some change. It is because with cynicism, it is not nice to deal with comparison and cynicism. Thanks for the interesting article.

  • Avatar Amanda says:

    Wow! I have been dealing with this issue all week. Just back to work, and not sure if this is where I should be. Jobs available that should have, could have applied for, but they aren’t right for my family. And when I get distracted by these other jobs, such unrest in my soul. Finally I came to the realization that, when God wants me to move in my job, He will shout it. But right now, my place it where I am, and He has given me peace. I just found your blog today, and I have really enjoyed your honesty, your fervency, and your love of Jesus and your family. I can’t wait to read more.
    ps-as to the tabloids, when I am strong, I pray for those on the cover.

  • Avatar Kim says:

    Yes, I do struggle with this. I stayed home with my daughter for 3 years, and had to go back to work. I should be thankful since I’m working at a Christian radio station and still get to serve Him. My hours are flexible, and my daughter goes to a Christian preschool. I compare myself to other moms and envy those that get to stay home with their kids. It truly is a blessing to stay home. I need to think of 2 Corinthians 10:12. I have to pray and say these verses aloud to help me not compare!

  • Avatar Lisa E says:

    Reading this weeks later as it was archived in my email. Timely as I just got done comparing myself to others this morning and whining big time that I just didn’t add up… THANK YOU!