The Key of Gratitude, Part 2: Releasing Comparison
Gratitude is a key that unlocks the door to awareness of and abiding in the presence of God. Experiencing God’s presence with us is the default setting of our lives. It is not something that is inaccessible but something we return to again and again as we practice: now, here, this (see part 1). God is always present but we may not have eyes to see all the ways He is loving us and with us, especially when we are in the midst of difficult seasons.
Our blindness and lack of awareness may be because of a lack of gratitude. Gratitude is also a kind of default setting in our lives. When not clouded by other things, we look at a beautiful sunrise and we find ourselves thankful we were able to witness it. Someone helps us and we are grateful. We receive a compliment and we say, “thank you.” With gratitude, we see the fullness of what is.
If it seems gratefulness is difficult to access, might it be that our vision has been clouded? The German mystic, Meister Eckhart, said: “God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by a process of subtraction.” Might it be that we need to release something? To subtract something that is holding us back?
One of the things that we might subtract is comparison. Rather than receiving a sunrise as a gift, we are focused on how we wish we were like someone else. “That person has it so good … I wish I lived in their house … I wish I had their family … I wish I had that job.” The list could go on but you get the idea.
Do you ever find yourself locked in comparison? If you do, you’re in good company. This is a struggle for most of us. We have a need to experience unconditional love and acceptance. We have a need to feel content in our own skin … not having to perform or produce to experience love.
The world around us tells us that we don’t have enough and that we aren’t enough. This message is embedded in the advertisements and conversations that frequently reach us. The idea is that being enough and having enough comes as we measure up to some subjective, unreachable standard. Without the ability to reach what is ultimately unreachable, we rely upon comparison. We look out at the world and reason, “well, at least I have it better than that person.” And when that begins, we are locked into a cycle of comparison. We may have it “better” than some but the inclination to compare extends to everyone and we are left consider all who have it “better” than us as well.
Of course, these measurements are ridiculous because they exist on a scale that is inaccurate and faulty in its very premise. The love and acceptance for which we are designed are not measured by anything external. In fact, this love is unconditional … or, unmeasurable.
The truth is that you are the beloved of God. He loves you with no condition or measurement (Luke 15). He made you and you are His handcrafted piece of art (Ephesians 2:10). Stop there for a moment and consider these truths. Hold these truths in your heart. Let His love for you invade your thinking. You are enough. You have enough. Because of Jesus, you have abundance of life (John 10:10). Not necessarily abundance of positive circumstances but abundance of life. And what is life? The life we long for is love, because God is love (1 John 4).
As you experience comparison, simply release it by remembering that you have all that you need … you are enough and you have enough. Consider again those three words: now, here, this. Now – in this moment, you have enough. Here – in this place, you are with God. This – in these circumstances, you have all you need.
This may feel like a battle at times but as you practice releasing comparison, it becomes easier. Release and then rest in gratitude as you thank God for His love and grace toward you. And, as gratitude is uncovered, you will see His presence with you. Gratitude will unlock what may have seemed inaccessible. Just as comparison can snowball into an avalanche of misery, gratitude can unfold into seeing the infinite ways God is with you and is loving you.
Another name for gratitude like this is contentment.