“Don’t compare crosses. Don’t judge other people’s crosses. We all have our own crosses to bear.”
The above statement came from a friend who has Mylenoma. He is always sharing wise, insightful, and truthful thoughts and sayings. I am part of a support group on Facebook for people who are chronically ill. Every day, posts of both pain and hope come across my timeline. Various people from various backgrounds dealing with various conditions all come together to encourage one another on this God-centered page. Despite the amazing amount of hope I draw from this page, I often find that I compare myself to other “sick” people. I also find that many healthy people compare themselves to me. Ironic.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Being chronically ill is difficult for me as an extrovert. I spend many days alone at home, and I spend a lot of time in bed. I think I have memorized every pattern of drywall in my room #irrelevantability. It’s easy to feel worthless in such a situation. I try to love those around me as much as I can. I try to encourage friends from afar by messaging or calling them, but I still feel ineffective, often thinking I am not doing enough for the Kingdom of God.
I look at other “sick” people and compare their productivity during illness to my own. When I see someone bodybuilding despite cancer or someone writing books while recovering from various surgeries, I can’t help but ask “why can’t I do more?” However, when I really think about it, I realize something: everyone is different. Okay, everyone knows that, but I see it in a new way now. Even people with the same conditions have bodies that react differently. I can’t compare myself to someone with brain cancer, because I have a completely different disease that affects me in many different ways. I simply can’t do some things, no matter how hard I try (and believe me, I try!).
In the same way, anyone, despite being sick or not, should never compare their burdens or abilities to others. As my friend said at the beginning of this post, we all have different crosses to bear. God gives us individual things to overcome, and even though people can experience the same thing, they experience it differently. Comparison also transfers to relations between sick people and healthy people (intercultural relations, haha, #geekjokes).
People sometimes tell me that I make them feel whiny and ungrateful because they see me going through so much . People will tell me they don’t feel like they can talk about their struggles around me because they “pale” in comparison to what I go through. I think that’s silly. I want people to share their struggles with me. I want people to feel comfortable sharing their lives with me. We live completely separate lives. We all go through different things. Plus, I do plenty of whining and pouting myself, thank you very much.
I don’t think I could deal with half the things some of my “healthy” friends go through. Conversely, they don’t think they could deal with half the things that I go through. This is the beauty of people. God created us all uniquely and we all have an individual purpose to our lives. Though we may be surrounded by friends and family, it comes down to our personal relationship with God, because no other human can truly experience our life with us. If we play the comparison game, we become distracted from God’s will for our lives by examining God’s will for someone else’s life.
Whether we are comparing our good attributes or bad attributes to another person, comparison is never healthy. God wants us to focus our efforts and thoughts on what He wants for our individual lives and how He wants to use our individual abilities. We must remain faithful in carrying our crosses for Christ, and serving the Kingdom in the way that God sees fit. We must strive to work hard in the abilities and assignments that God has given us. We must resist discouragement in feeling we are not doing enough compared to other people.
We need to stop playing the comparison game and start carrying our own crosses.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?