Our kids have had these bowls since they were young. Their grandmother bought them when they were still little. I think they’ve always enjoyed knowing that when something went in that bowl, it was theirs.
They’ve eaten countless amounts of cereal, popcorn, pretzels and grapes from those bowls. And to this day, when we get them snacks, we often use these same bowls.
But something interesting happens every time we get them a snack. The first thing they do is look into their bowl to take account of what they’ve got. And I’m sure you can guess the next thing they do…
They look into the other person’s bowl. They’ve got to make sure what they have is equal. Because how can you be certain how great what you have is until you compare it to what someone else has, right?
Honestly, everyone suffers from the same problem. We have a deep desire for fairness. Our need to compare ourselves to others is like a disease that infects us all. You and I spend much of our days glancing into our neighbor’s bowl to see exactly how blessed we are.
I feel particularly infected with this disease lately. Several of my friends are getting new homes, which is awesome. So why does that make me feel so awful about my own house? I see people getting new jobs, their children winning awards, my neighbor going on a nice vacation. These things should make me feel good for others, right?
Why can’t I simply rejoice with others in their blessing and success without it making me feel jealous and sad?
Comparison seems like such a harmless act on the surface. But this is the problem: Constantly comparing ourselves to others robs us of our thankfulness. Instead of finding joy in our blessings, we find sorrow in what we lack. Where we should find contentment, we find contempt.
It can even make us resent our neighbor.
The apostle Paul pointed out the silliness of this situation in 1 Corinthians 12. He said it’s like your ear being so jealous of the eye that it wants to just leave your body. Even though it’s a perfectly good ear that serves a needed purpose. But that’s how strange our constant comparison can seem.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m making a resolution for this week. Perhaps you’d like to join me.
I’m going to try to keep my eyes on my own bowl.
Every time I feel myself glancing at my neighbors bowl, I’m going to fix my eyes back on my own. Instead of being concerned about the things you have, I’m going to take good care of what I’ve been given.
Because I truly want to be a thankful person this week. I want to trade my contempt for contentedness, my jealousy for joy.
So this week, may we all find a cure for the infection of comparison. May we find true thankfulness by focusing on our own blessings. May we keep our eyes on our own bowls.
Because our bowls are much fuller than we realize.