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The Snare of Comparing

 

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Sometimes it’s hard to find a free stock picture that truly exemplifies the emotion you want to convey. I did find some great pics of jealousy, but they were all $5 each. Nope. Not going to spend money for a pic for a post.

So, this is me, “being upset because I am comparing my marriage to someone else’s.”

Work with me, here.

I’m a pharmacist, not an actress.

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I am so thankful one of our sisters brought up this issue and asked me to write about it!!! I think this is always a temptation, no matter how well or how poorly our marriage seems to be going. But, it is probably the biggest temptation to compare our situation to that of others when we are feeling unloved and unfulfilled in our own marriages. There may be times when some wives may not want to read “success stories” even here on my blog if those things are going to be a stumbling block at that time for them.

There can be great danger in us comparing our marriage to someone else’s or our husband to someone else’s.

We are not accurate judges.

We don’t know all the facts. So we inevitably begin to compare the worst things about our marriage to the best things we think we see in someone else’s marriage. That is not at all fair, or accurate!  We end up comparing our husband’s weaknesses to the perceived strengths another husband has. We compare the thing that we believe we are missing from our marriage with someone who seems to have that one thing.

If your husband prays with you a few times a week, but doesn’t have sex with you much, it is easy to look at a wife whose husband has a high sex drive and think, “She is so lucky! Why can’t my husband be like that and want me sexually every day? I would never complain about anything if I was married to a man like that!”

Ironically, the wife you are jealous of may be jealous of you, “I feel like just a piece of meat to my husband. I wish he would leave me alone. I don’t care about having sex if we aren’t connecting emotionally and spiritually.  If only my husband prayed with me like so-and-so’s husband, I would be the happiest wife on the planet.”

A wife with a man who doesn’t compliment her much may miss the fact that he doesn’t pummel her with criticism either. And a wife whose husband is critical of every little thing may not really value the compliments he gives because she focuses on all of the criticism that is so generously doled out, too.

Each personality has strengths and weaknesses. There isn’t a personality with all strengths and no weaknesses. It is easy for wives of steady men to wish their men were more like command men or visionaries, to wish their husbands were more decisive and had more initiative and to miss the benefits of their calm, easy going, gentle men. It is easy for wives of visionaries to wish their men were more steady. It is easy for wives of command men to wish their husbands were not as exacting and were more laid back. That is a destructive mindset. Let’s be thankful for the strengths our particular men have and let’s also praise God that He is able to use even our husband’s sin and weakness to help mold and shape us to be more like Jesus and that God made our husbands have their particular personalities for His good purposes.

Of course, a single woman may think, “What are ANY of these women complaining about!?!!? I would give anything to have what they have! If I had a husband, I would never complain again. My life would be wonderful all the time.”

We don’t stop to realize that people, marriage, husbands, control, babies, houses, money, having what we think we want – none of those things will ever truly satisfy us.

Jesus is the only One who can truly satisfy our souls!

Comparing quickly turns into covetousness and jealousy.

That is sin. Jealousy almost always brings with it depression, bitterness and resentment because of our unmet expectations. Our jealousy and bitterness grieve God’s heart, hurt us and destroy the unity in our marriages. It makes it hard for us to respect our husbands and honor them when we are so busy wishing they were like someone else. When we want what someone else has, or what we think they have, we are not content with what God has given us and what we have. God calls me to be thankful in everything, to not complain and to be joyful in my hope in Him. God calls us to be content in Christ alone regardless of our circumstances. Through His Spirit’s power, thankfully, we can be content in Him whether we are feeling very loved in our marriages of not. What a priceless gift!

– Another person’s marriage has nothing to do with us. God has different plans for each of us. That is going to have to be ok. His wisdom is greater than ours.

In my view, it is much healthier if we keep our eyes on Jesus – not our husbands, not our friends, not our family, not our pastor, not our situation, not anyone or anything but Christ. He is our power source. He is our greatest Treasure. Let’s focus on finding all of our contentment, peace, joy and strength in Him alone. We can ask Him to help us learn all we can in each trial and to give us greater faithfulness to Him. We can trust Him to lead us exactly where He wants us to go. Then we don’t have to be jealous at all. We all have the same access to the same God, the same Savior, the same Lord, the same Spirit, the same Body and the same eternal inheritance. PRAISE GOD!

When those feelings and twinges of disappointment in our husbands come, as they are bound to do, let that be our signal that we can only truly find contentment in Christ, not in any sinful, imperfect person.

It is wise to check our motives. Are we putting something above Christ in our hearts? Do we have a godly marriage as an idol? Or a person? Or are we trying to find fulfillment, happiness and joy in something other than Jesus? If so, it is time to repent and turn to Christ with all our hearts and keep our hearts and minds focused only on Him and fully submitting to His Word and His commands.

Here are a few things we might try to do to avoid this snare:

–  Don’t read about “what godly husbands should do” usually. I often skip the parts for husbands in books. If reading that doesn’t bother you, then maybe this is not an issue for you. That is fine too! But if it trips you up, it may be best to avoid that stuff. (If you are single, you may have to be careful about reading about marriage. If you find yourself feeling depressed and discouraged when you read about preparing for a godly marriage, it may be better to focus just on your relationship with Christ right now.)

–  Take every thought captive to Christ, so if we begin to find ourselves comparing our husbands or our lives to someone else, We have to immediately realize what we are doing and shoot that line of thought down, replacing it with truth from God’s Word.

– Remember that it is disrespectful to compare your husband to someone else. I know we don’t want our husbands to compare us in a negative way to other women!

– Focus on Philippians 4:8 things about our lives, our husbands, our marriages and our current situation. If we focus on thanksgiving and praising God, it is impossible  to be jealous, bitter or resentful.

– Focus on the sovereignty of a God and pray for His greatest glory in our lives no matter what path that means we will need to take. I tell God I am fully His and I am at His disposal. I yield all of myself to Him daily and say things like,

“Even if I must suffer, let Your greatest glory be accomplished in my life. Only let me have Your Spirit, your power, Your presence, Your Word and Your will. If I have these things, I have everything. Empower me to be content in You alone.”

I’d love to hear what you have learned to do to avoid comparing your life or situation to someone else’s!

Maybe we can emulate those who have allowed God to use their tragedies and difficulties to bring glory and honor and praise to God – like Joseph in the Old Testament, Job, Hosea, Jeremiah, Jesus, the apostles, etc? They are incredibly godly examples to us of how to face adversity with great faith in God, seeking only to bring honor to Him.

 

GOD’S WILL AND HIS WISDOM IS MUCH GREATER THAN OURS AND CAN BE A MYSTERY TO US AT TIMES

 

What if God’s asks you to:

Take care of an invalid child/sister who is in a coma from the time she is in elementary school for 42 years and minister to her and demonstrate agape love for her to all who come to visit you like Edwarda O’Bara’s family was called to do?

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From www.cnn.com Edwarda O’Bara with her caregivers, her mother and sister.

Edwarda O’Bara went into a coma around Christmas in 1969. Her mother spent the rest of her life caring for her daughter and talks about the privilege it has been to get to take care of her little girl. Her sister also helped and took over completely after their mother died until Edwarda died 42 years after going into a coma.

This is what godly love looks like! Here is a tangible, living portrait of God’s love in this precious family!

 Showcase His grace and sufficiency in your life in the midst of a disease or disability like Nick Vujicic was called to do?

http://media.photobucket.com/user/jackie_lim/media/Nick7.jpg.html?filters[term]=nick%20vujicic&filters[primary]=images&filters[secondary]=videos&sort=1&o=17
http://media.photobucket.com/user/jackie_lim/media/Nick7.jpg.html?filters[term]=nick%20vujicic&filters[primary]=images&filters[secondary]=videos&sort=1&o=17
Nick was born with no arms and no legs. He has one “foot.” He is now a powerful evangelist for the gospel of Christ. He suffered severe hardships. He was depressed and in despair over the future prospects of his life as a child. He wondered how he could ever be a husband if he couldn’t even hold his wife’s hand one day. Later, he decided, “I may not be able to hold my wife’s hand, but I can hold her heart.” He was married a few years ago and has a son now! This man has the joy and Spirit of God in him.

God uses him to reach people precisely because of his physical limitations and through his disability. He is able to reach the hearts of people that he could never touch if he had a perfect body. He has a book out “Life Without Limits.” (I haven’t read it. If you have, I’d love to hear about it!) If you get the chance, please watch this 4 minute video about his life about focusing on what we DO have, not what we DON’T have, about being thankful and about how with God, life has no limits for any of us. Read about him. Watch some videos about his ministry and his story. You will find a man who is spiritually fantastically rich who is thankful, overflowing with joy and mightily used by God.

http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/about-nick/faq/

A longer video about his life  as a child and how he manages day to day. 11 minutes

Be imprisoned or be a martyr for Him like Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27 years old, 8 months pregnant has been called to do. She has been sentenced to death in the Sudan because she refuses to renounce Christ. Wow. PRAISE GOD for her! Pray for her!

Her husband is in a wheelchair. She was his primary care giver. Her 20 month old is allowed to stay with her in prison, but is having health issues and infections because of the unsanitary conditions and bugs. Her pregnancy has been difficult, but she has not been granted permission to go to a private hospital. The government declares her to be a Muslim, even though she is a Christian, because her father was Muslim. They declared her marriage to be unofficial because it is to a Christian man and she was sentenced to severe physical punishment for “adultery”.

May God’s greatest glory be accomplished in her life and in her family! I pray God might spare her life. I pray for her safety, her health and her release and for provision for her husband and children. Please join me in praying for her! Most of all how I pray that she will know God’s presence and power in the most tangible way in that prison cell and that she might shine for Christ and be faithful to Him no matter what and that through her suffering for Christ, many might come into the kingdom.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her husband - photo credit www.abcnews.go.com
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her husband – photo credit www.abcnews.go.com

 

Do you know that we can be content in each of these circumstances and any other? Look what the apostle Paul wrote from prison in Philippians 4:

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

Maybe, we don’t need to compare ourselves to anyone, but rather, fully submit ourselves in total trust to Christ, allowing Him to use our lives the way He believes is best. It will be different for each of us. Let’s be content with what God calls US to do each day. He has a unique calling on each of our lives that will ultimately result in God’s greatest glory and in our ultimate good in light of eternity – to make us more like Jesus – if we are willing to fully trust Him.

 

May Christ be greatly glorified in each of our lives no matter what the personal cost to ourselves.

RELATED:

God’s will for believers does include suffering, even though many pastors don’t preach that anymore. Please read James 1, Romans 8 and I Peter. God uses suffering to make us more like Jesus. Jesus was not exempt from suffering. Why would we be exempt from suffering? If we suffer for God’s will and for His purposes, we are greatly blessed!

Check out David Platt’s series at www.radical.net “The Cross and Suffering”

 

90 thoughts on “The Snare of Comparing

  1. Great post! Wise advice.

    I used to compare myself to other marriages and all it did was make me depressed and jealous and bitter. It wasn’t fair on my husband or myself.

    I also did not like it when hubby tried to compare me to others and I learned quickly that hubby definitely didn’t like me saying “Olivia’s hubby helps with the housework and they both work too”.

    So yes, definitely not wise!

    1. Godlywifetobe,

      As an identical twin, I was used to being compared constantly to my sister and I was used to comparing myself to her all the time. I definitely used to try to compare my marriage to other people’s. It did not edify or bless me or my marriage when I did that! I would end up like you did, Godlywifetobe, jealous, bitter, resentful, depressed… Not good.

      I always hated being compared to my sister. Many people couldn’t tell us apart at all, so almost every day someone wanted us to stand side by side and then they would try to list the differences between us so that they could tell us apart. That got really old!

      “You have Japanese eyes. She has fish eyes. You look more devilish. She looks more angelic. Your face is more square. Her face is more round…”

      I don’t think anyone enjoys being compared with others – especially if they are being compared unfavorably.

      Much love!

        1. Nikka,

          My sister moved away (about a 2 hours drive). So, we aren’t together very much in public the past few years. The comparisons have been much less, largely because we just aren’t together. But if we were together a lot around other people, absolutely. People LOVE to compare identical twins! But no twin wants to be the ugly one, the less popular one, the not-so-smart one, etc… Comparing is just not healthy. I am thankful my parents put us in separate classes as much as possible in school. That was a blessing. Sometimes people would think of us as one person with two bodies. It was weird!

          Yes, our personalities are very different.

          But I am so thankful for my sister. And so grateful to watch God work in her life and to see the amazing wife and mama she is. She is such a blessing. 🙂

  2. Kelly,

    Thank you for sharing! Ha! 🙂 Angry bird.

    Diverticulitis is so very painful. I’m sorry to hear that your husband feels so awful. Thank you for taking such good care of him! Praying for God’s healing and wisdom.

  3. You are so right when you say that we are to keep our eyes only on Jesus. That is one area that I want to be very narrow minded. Do everything as if I’m doing it for my Lord and Saviour.

    1. Stef,
      Exactly! As we focus on only pleasing Jesus, we can let everything else fade into the background until He is all that matters. Then we can trust Him no matter where He may lead us. As long as we are with Him, we know we are in the best place in the world.

  4. Great reminder. Thank you, I needed to read this today. Even though I already know not to compare my husband to another, I needed the reminder. My husband is not perfect but he is a wonderful husband and father and grandfather and I am proud of him in many many ways.

  5. Awesome post!

    I sooo needed this reminder! Had a good ‘bad’ day yesterday. Thankful for the testimonies of other saints as reminders of what God has done and can do for His children. He is our greatest treasure. It is so amazing that we have this treasure in us who believe (UNWORTHY earthen vessel).

    1. Raphael,

      I”m so sorry things were hard! I know you are in the midst of such a painful trial. How I pray God might allow you to squeeze every drop of His goodness and all that He desires you to learn and absorb in each moment. I pray you will cling more tightly to Him than ever and that you might soar on wings like an eagle as you put your trust fully in Him. Praying for healing and for restoration for you.

      1. Thank you Sis!

        May God be glorifed EVEN MORE thru you and your husbands’s ministries. I am humbly thankful to be on HIS operating table with or without anesthesia. The narrow road leads to Him and HE is with us on this journey =). He was walking on the water in the midst of the storm that He controlled =).

  6. This applies to men as well as to women.

    I often find myself jealous of men who have “Nina Roesner” disciples for wives. I catch myself and put those thoughts away, but they soon return.

    In reality, however, there is no perfect spouse.

    You really DON’T know the other person’s situation. You know only your own. Trust God and be faithful in YOUR situation.

    The only thing you can control is what YOU do — are you doing what God wants YOU to do in your situation?

    1. Jim,
      Absolutely!

      I love Nina Roesner! God has used her story and ministry so powerfully in my own life and in my ministry. I don’t know if you have read her story. But – it took her a good 10 years to “get” what it meant to be a godly wife. She had a mighty struggle for many, many years.

      That is a question that a lot of husbands have asked. “Why did God open your eyes, but He hasn’t opened my wife’s eyes? Why did He wake you up, but my wife divorced me?”

      I don’t know.

      I know that I couldn’t even open my own eyes. I wondered when I first saw all my sin why God couldn’t have opened my eyes 14 years earlier. I grieved so much over the many years of sin in my life and how deeply I had hurt God and Greg. I wanted to erase all of those years and have a do-over.

      But now I understand why my eyes weren’t opened earlier.

      If I had understood all of this from day one – I would not be able to do this ministry right now. God is using those many years of my sin and rebellion against Him to reach thousands of women (and men) around the world for Christ.

      So, I can’t regret those years of my unbelief, idolatry of self, disrespect, rebellion against God’s Word, pride, self-righteousness and control. I can’t question God’s timing. I know His wisdom is infinitely greater than my own. I just rest in that.

      I’m so thankful that we serve a God who is able to bring joy from mourning and beauty from ashes. I’m so thankful that we serve a God who is able to restore the years the locusts have eaten.

      I do know this – if I had gotten everything I thought I wanted earlier in our marriage, I wouldn’t know God in a deeply intimate, radically life-changing way today.

      No, there is no perfect spouse. Nina is not perfect. I am not perfect. No husband or wife is perfect – and that forces us to depend more on Jesus. That is a GOOD thing!

      I am praying for God’s greatest glory and for healing in your life!

      1. I am thankful that God doesn’t hold us accountable for our past sins and failings. I’m glad He lets us start fresh TODAY.

        When I do get remarried, my plan is to be the very best husband I can be to my wife — to love and cherish her so much and so continually that she thinks she died and went to heaven. No matter how she is to me.

        I figure that if I will keep that up, it won’t be long before she will begin to ask herself what she can do to honor this loving husband she has.

        But even if she doesn’t, I still plan on loving and cherishing her. As long as I possibly can.

        1. Jim,

          Awesome desire! My post below was meant for your prior comment =). I still agree with this post and my sentiments are still the same. I must admit -it isn’t easy – but Love isn’t for cowards! Everyone will think you are crazy. May God bbe glorified in and thru you brother!

        2. “I am thankful that God doesn’t hold us accountable for our past sins and failings. I’m glad He lets us start fresh TODAY.”
          Amen to that. _Co-heirs_ with _Christ_ too! (Rom8:17)

          “I figure that if I will keep that up, it won’t be long before she will begin to ask herself what she can do to honor this loving husband she has.”
          There are many examples (on this blog even) where this doesn’t work. Your future wife will, at best, love it at first and will quickly lose respect for you and will react in any number of unfavourable ways, leaving you to wonder “Why!?”

          We love (agape)–not idolise–our wives because we want to please God, not our wives. (Eph5:25) God tells us how to please our wives for He created them. Yes, read the manufacturer’s instruction manual!

  7. April,

    I LOVE your pictures! An actress in the making. 🙂

    Yes, it’s so easy to compare but as the Desiderata states:

    “Do not compare yourself with others, for you might become vain or bitter.

    For as always, there will be lesser or better persons than yourself.”

    And I think it does God a great injustice and reeks of ingratitude when we start wishing for someone else or something else, instead of what He has blessed us with. A bottomless pit of discontentment is VERY unChristian. 🙁

    1. Nikka,
      SO TRUE!

      I love that quote. And – yes! That is exactly what happens. I begin to think I know better than God. PRIDE. Or I can become bitter at God or at others. Bitterness will destroy me and all of my relationships.

      And you are so right. Jealousy and covetousness is very unChristlike and does not bring honor or glory to God at all. Thanksgiving, humility, willingness to suffer if necessary and total trust in God are so much more beautiful.

    2. Yup! That ‘green grass’ is probably plastic. It is so true. God will bless us with a gift and we will throw it back at Him ans say ‘I don’t want it!’

  8. Here is a couple of lessons I learned when I was comparing.

    Two friends of mine that I have known since school got married. This was a second marriage for both. So they were similar to me. The wife would post on facebook about the nice evenings they had cuddling on the couch watching a movie, etc. I would think why can’t my husband be that way. There he is over there in his recliner, half asleep watching his tv show. Then one day I ran into to the lady in the store and she came up and hugged me and told me her husband was having an affair with her nephew’s wife and he had left her. Yeah….made me really grateful for my always there, always completely faithful husband who never even lets his eyes wander to a another woman.

    Another couple….the man was always “chasing” his wife, hinting at what was to come later in the evening. My thoughts….Why can’t my husband be that interested? Why do I have to have the one husband who doesn’t want it all the time? Then this lady mentions one day when her husband is not around that she needs to diet more, that her husband complains about her body, what she wears etc. Yep….here we go again… My sweet husband has never even once indicated that my body is anything less than perfect (even though I know it is not!) He thinks my flannel PJs are cute. If he doesn’t like an article of clothing he keeps his dislike to the article itself and not how it looks on me.

    I am sure that any couple that looks great on the outside would have at least one aspect of their relationship that others would find not to their liking so when we are comparing and feel jealous that is only the things we can see on the surface. There is so much more that we can’t see!

    1. Daisymae,

      Facebook is SUCH a contributor to this!!!!

      People post good things on FB. And sometimes there are really horrible things going on that – we can only hope – they DON’T post on FB. Many times what is posted on FB is a fantasy and is not reality – or is just a little part of the whole picture and that makes things look much better than they really are.

      Quite honestly, if FB causes us to sin, we may need to pluck it out of our lives! 🙂 This is an extremely widespread issue.

      Thank you for sharing!

      Yes, there are many things we do not know about the lives of others. It is destructive and fruitless to try to compare ourselves to others!

      1. “The wife would post on facebook about the nice evenings they had cuddling on the couch watching a movie, etc. I would think why can’t my husband be that way.”

        Many women post similar things, not intended to be an update on their lives, but purely meant to boast and make other women jealous.

        You could probably do an entire post on “humble bragging.”

        This happens in a lot of random online product reviews too:

        Things like:

        “My 6’4″, muscular husband really liked this shirt I bought him last week, so I came back to this store yesterday to buy him 3 more like it.”

        Translated as:

        1) “I will keep repeating the phrase “My Husband” to you until you recognize that I have higher social status than all you single and divorced women. I’m better than you because I have a husband and you don’t.”
        2) “My husband is attractive and ideal, so you should be jealous of me.”
        3) “I’m such an amazing, super, wonderful wife, because my husband was pleased by something I did, and I’m always busy doing things like this that please him because I’m such an awesome wife. I’m better than all of you because my man is pleased with me.”
        4)The reason I have such an amazing, attractive, happy man is because I’m so amazing and attractive myself. Any value that he has in his own life is really just a statement of my own value and worth because I was able to catch and hold onto him.”

        When all she needed to say was, “Yeah, great shirt! I recommend it!”

        All the other details were meant to boast about herself and hurt other women – tearing down their social status to elevate her own.

  9. love Love Love this! Such a good reminder to me! Seeing the different stories at the bottom really puts things into perspective. Loved this!

  10. Amen, this is sooo good! Daisymae made a good point, there is so much more that we can’t see! There have been several times that what I thought about their marriage or her husband, was not true at all. I realized the wonderful things about my husband that I was taking for granted. You realize it when you mention to a friend something your husband did, that you didn’t see as any big deal anymore, and she goes “wow”….I wish my husband would do that! I think it is important to focus on those good, positive things about him, and not take him for granted. Even if it is just that he comes home after work every day. Being thankful and trusting that God knows so much more than we do. I have found that what I think I want seems to be different than what God knows I need. And….trusting that He is still working his divine plan out in our lives….thus praying & being patient & trusting….

    1. Rose,
      That is putting Philippians 4:8 into action!!! BEAUTIFUL!

      Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

  11. I heard someone say…..that you should never compare you “behind the scenes” to someone else’s “highlight reel.” It boils down to receiving the gifts that God has given you because He has a purpose for your marriage, your family and your life.

    1. Excellent point — “Behind the scenes” vs “highlight reel”. You NEVER know what someone else’s situation really is.

  12. Thanks April. This is so right! In my moment of despair, I do have the temptation not to compare my marriage to others but to give God reproach why he allowed me to marry my husband and to do it 3 times. 😉 But we do have good moments as we have today as we celebrate our second Wedding Anniversary. 🙂 Something you wrote and touched me is that each couple is different and God has a different purpose for each couple.

    1. sonadewonderful,

      We are going to be talking about this very issue you bring up tomorrow!!!!!! 🙂

      If you would like to elaborate, maybe I can use your questions and negative feelings toward God in the post. 🙂

      1. Well, before getting married, I asked God if it wasn’t his will, he should stop me and I was totally willing to stop our relationship. But He didn’t and allowed us to get married 3 times in 2 different countries. Now, being more mature that young people who are getting married, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, as we have to face not only different his tried with wounds on both parts, different education and cultures. But I never excepted it would be so hard at times and that I would be so desesperate at times. I think it was in one of these moments that a month ago The Lord talked to me as I was starting to doubt he was the man that God had for me. He said “Who says that doing my will is easy”? Then, I thought about all the difficulties Mary had to face in response of God’s will: she was considered as adulteress and wasn’t, have to give birth in a stable, had to flee in Egypt to save her life and the ones of her family. So many troubled but it was God’s will! So often we think that doing God’s will is going it be fun, we’ll be happy for ever…. We’ll be sometimes as I am but God has a greatest purpose than us to be happy and this is what I have to remember when I am in such a despair.

        Hope that it helps

        Big hug

        1. Sonadewonderful,
          Yes, that helps!

          We may need to talk about this mindset, though, because I don’t believe it is necessarily scriptural to say, “God stop me if this is not your will, but I am going forward unless You force me to stop.” I think there is a lot of being still and waiting on God and hearing His clear prompting in a certain direction as well as possibly seeking wise, godly counsel, on a marriage decision, and wise, godly mentoring and marriage preparation with a mentoring couple or pastor who will ask the hard questions and help you determine how to build the foundation of your marriage on a Christ.

          This is a very interesting point, and one I haven’t written about before, but maybe a topic we need to touch on.

          Thank you so very much for sharing your story!!!! I am so excited about what God is doing in your life. I pray for His greatest glory!

          1. PS,
            Marriage is hard. Period. Not sure anyone gets a pass on that!!

            Someone told Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect, I think it was, “I have a difficult marriage.” He said. “That’s redundant.” Because every marriage is difficult.

            Of course, some are harder at certain times than others. But, this is part of the purification process of God using marriage to bring our sins to the surface so He can skim them off of our souls and refine us.

            Much love!

          2. I am thinking of the many times I ran ahead of God, thinking I was listening to Him, but I wasn’t. He will allow us to make mistakes and even sin. He does not usually stop us. Yes, there are some times when He may, but I think those are the exceptions.

          3. Yes, I agree with April. There are times when you think you are doing “God’s Will” but really not — especially when it’s done in haste, not discerned, or you are just following your heart which is deceitful. (Jer 17:9)

            God cannot just STOP us, the way we want Him to, but I think if we really seek His Will, He will enlighten our minds to not push through with a decision ourselves, or He will manifest His Will by making the circumstances not quite favorable, thereby allowing us to see His Movement through it all.

            The key is really prayer and total abandonment to His Will while dying to self.

          4. Nikka,
            Yes!

            And, even if we did correctly discern God’s will, marriage is still extremely difficult and painful at times and there may be times we all wonder if we married the “right” person. But then, eventually, maybe we begin to wonder if we ourselves are the right people for our husbands to have married and we begin to focus on being the right person instead of being with the right person. All humans will fail us. But marriage, done God’s way, will ultimately bring great glory to God, even though there will be seasons of trials and pain.

          5. Yes April! Please talk about this! I could almost have written that. I was so content single. And I was an older single. And I prayed and prayed over the relationship. And he didnt’ “stop” or “help” me make a wise choice. It’s all wrapped up in who God is and how he works. Which, really, the Bible says we cannot fully know his mind. But still, why should it all have been so darn hard?! (While dating…”Is this a red flag? Is this a normal part of a relationship? Lord help!”).
            At any rate…those pictures! Ha! You are so precious to photograph yourself and help us see how pathetic we look!! Thank you for this awesome post. Just what I needed, as always!

          6. Jane Doe,

            I have a post tomorrow about a lot of similar issues. But I may need to do a separate post just on this. Please remind me if you don’t see one in the next week!! I need to send myself an email to remind myself! 🙂

            Honestly, those pictures are pretty generous. When I was really comparing myself to others and crying, I am sure I looked much worse!!!! Super red eyes. Major tears. Lots of nose blowing. I didn’t quite make it to that authentic level of emotional distress that I used to really have about such things! :). But thank you for appreciating my little attempts! Ha.

          7. Well, this is not something I had habits to do, to say God stopped me if it’s not your will. When we met the first time for 3 days (We lived at thousands of km) we decided we are going to pray and if God confirm, I’d be back a month later on Christmas 2011 to get engaged. For the first two weeks I was praying praying but still nothing. I was open for a yes or a no from God. I was getting crazy, needed to know if I’ll by an airplane ticket or no. Then I talk to a pastor wife and she let me to this thought of saying “God stop me if it’s not your will.” When I did, I really felt peace of getting married with Michel and he felt peace as well after talking to a friend. Very unusual for me to act like that but sometimes God leads us in ways we are not use to.

          8. Sonadewonderful,

            I vote to count yourself as being in God’s will to be in this marriage now and to be ready to soak up anything God may want you to learn and ways He may have for you to grow. I pray you might be able to focus on the good in your husband and on becoming the woman and wife He desires you to be.

            Praying for you!!!

          9. Amen April. I know I am in God’s will and even if there still will be difficulties, sadness and struggles, things are getting little bit better everyday. One day, I’ll arrive there with God’s help. Big hug

  13. This really hit home for me this week. I recently deleted my Facebook because it would so consume my time. Not only that but I would constantly compare myself to others. It was so hurtful to see so many pregnant as I am struggling with infertility. It was angering to see these newly weds who took extravagant trips! Who can afford that? And to people buying brand new houses, it really gave me a twinge of jealousy. Within 10 mins of scrolling on face book I could be happy, sad, angry, and jealous. And I don’t need that in my life. I’m content and happy with my marriage and life and I don’t need to surround myself with those constant feelings of not being good enough. So I loved your posting today! It was encouraging. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Haley,
      I am really proud of you! I think that Facebook could definitely qualify as “the bread of idleness” many times. At best, it is distracting us from more important things, and at worst, it is enticing us into all kinds of sins and temptations.

      I’m so glad that you are content and happy with your marriage and life and that you decided to take action to protect and guard your heart and mind and keep your thoughts on God-honoring things. That is wonderful!

    2. Hi Haley! 🙂

      I also deactivated my personal account of 6 years, when the Lord convicted me of my sins on September 1, 2013. I realized that it was contributory to my lack of peace and stillness in my life. All the “likes”, “shares”, compliments and self-aggrandizement that I am encouraged to post led to a false sense of pride and accomplishment on one hand, and bitterness and envy on the other hand, when one sees others post the best about themselves, which though it should not affect you so much, still does…

      I figured, if it was too much of a temptation and stirred or created emotions within me that led me away from contentment and peace, I had to rip that out from its roots. So, I have “killed” my FB persona which is almost equivalent to dropping off the face of the earth. 😛

      Just wanted to encourage you in that area, because I know though FB has its so many wonderful uses, it also could be a venue for boasting and gossiping, which surely leads one to fall into temptation.

      Nikka

  14. As usual — wonderful post April!
    I would caution only against this;”Why don’t we seem to compare our situations with all the people we know who have it WORSE than we do and use that to help us be thankful? That may be a better idea if we are going to attempt to compare at all.”
    I don’t think it’s a better idea at all……… that can make us very vain….. haughty….make us believe that we are better than others etc. I thought of the Desiderata as well.
    Those who get jealous of the “good” situations of others are bitter and miserable. Those who focus too much on how much better their situations are than the situations of others, are not fun to be around either. So, the main point of your post is our best bet – do not compare ourselves with others. There will always be better and worse situations than ours. Focusing on either, will take us down a wrong path.

      1. I don’t recommend filtering any message for fear of it being misused/misinterpreted; instead, make the message more thorough or let the conversation(s) unfold and we’ll _all_ likely learn things we need to.

        Comparing to “worse” has its usefulness but can be misused as well. “Worse” can broaden your perspective. If you ever have an opportunity, listen to a former POW speak; they tell their [horrific] stories so matter-of-factly. (Rom 8)

        Contrarily, I’ve been there with vain/haughty/Pharisee mindset (talk about a horrible realisation).

        Something I’ve been digesting lately is Romans 12:2 + Philippians 4:8 = Luke 22:44 (enjoying life so much that the thought of losing it caused hematidrosis)

        Someone has it “good”? Yay them! Someone overcomes something bad? Yay them! Can you learn from it? Yay you!

    1. Makes me think of the wisdom in, “Hold everything but Christ loosely.” Allows us to appreciate what we have while not turning any of it into idols.

      1. Brooke,

        Very well said! I hadn’t thought of it like that, but, yes!!! Exactly! If we hold things too tightly, other than Jesus, that is exactly when we can make them into idols.

        Love this!

  15. April,

    Great post, as always, but I’m wondering: where does praising our husbands publicly fit into this? Couldn’t posting nice things on FB or saying nice comments in front of others, make other people jealous? Yet I’ve seen it suggested as a nice thing to do for our husbands.

    Also, growing up I thought all married people were miserable because I only ever heard them complain about it. It would’ve been so nice to see examples of happy couples!! My marriage has always been good (awesome, now) and I’ve tended to just stay quiet about it so other people won’t feel bad about theirs, because most people complain. But I do think of the young girl I used to be, and how it would have given me hope to see and hear about happy marriages, just to know they existed. So I feel like I should admit I am happy?! One of my former bosses was one of the few I’ve met who would come out and say how happy he was to be married and how great his wife was, etc. I thought it was nice for a change.

    1. Hi Liz:
      I hope you don’t mind me chiming in on the question you asked April, but I wanted to share my personal thoughts on it. I think it is absolutely wonderful to praise your spouse, as long as your motive in doing so is pure. I am sure your husband will be encouraged by you vocalizing your appreciation! It is indeed so delightful when people speak positively about their marriages [and I still think so, even though mine is not beautiful right now]… I have many friends in beautiful strong marriages and it is encouraging to me. If all they did was complain, it would really not be motivating. I don’t think you are responsible for the jealousy of others 🙁 — and I doubt you should hesitate to praise your hubby, because some people might be jealous.

    2. Liz M.,
      This is a really great point. Many wives who are happy in their marriages don’t talk about it. That is what The Happy Wives’ Club is about. When women get together, usually, the ones who are upset with their husbands do all the talking and the ones who have awful marriages do all the advice giving. How horrible is that scenario!?!?!

      The happy wives stay silent. They don’t want to “gloat” or make other wives feel bad. But, sadly, then the hurting wives have no one who is wise who shares with them and pours into them or who sets a godly example.

      I think our motives are key. We don’t want to gloat.

      Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.

      If someone is talking about her husband cheating on her, that is not a good time to say, “Oh, I hate that for you. So, guess what? My husband took care of the kids so I could take a bath, made a gourmet meal for me last night, fed me chocolate covered strawberries in a luxurious whirlpool bath and then spent an hour treating me to the most incredible time of intimacy.”

      But – we can, in the right moments, and with the right motives – share positive things about our husbands just to bless our husbands and to share our joy. If we notice a woman is becoming bitter or resentful, we may have to tweak our approach. I think this requires great sensitivity to God’s Spirit on our part.

      There may be times we can share about happy moments in our marriages. And then there also may be moments we can gently, humbly, lovingly share God’s truth with hurting wives who come to us for help.

      I love the story about your boss! It IS wonderful to hear a spouse praising his/her spouse. That is how it should be, in my book. 🙂

      1. Thank you for your reply, April. It is very helpful to me.

        I think you are right that it takes sensitivity to the situation and checking of motives during conversations. That is harder to do on FB, when you don’t know who is reading at what time, whether they’ve had a horrible day w/their spouse when they see your post or not…probably another good reason to just stay away from FB, though :).

  16. Great post. My grandfather encouraged comparison of himself to any man in my life to show how inferior most men were. A lot of ugly came out after my grandmother died and then his passing too. I felt like I knew two completely different people and it’s taken me awhile to reconcile all that mess. I learned that there are layers to people and how to accept…them, circumstances, histories, etc. Comparing is smoke and mirrors, not based on reality. Neither is the fantasy of a perfect life or a perfect person. Thanks for that reminder.

    1. Refined,
      Goodness. That does sound like it could have been hurtful. I’m so sorry! Sometimes there is a lot of confusion and pain to wade through as we try to look back and figure out what was really true.

      Thank you for sharing!

  17. On comparing:

    We _all_ stink. (Rom3:23, Isa64:6 and do a word study on that one..eww.)

    Therefore, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

    1. Frankly,
      I know those two verses by heart. And yes- a word study on Isaiah 64:6 is extremely enlightening – well, humbling.

      Someone has it “good”? Yay them! Someone overcomes something bad? Yay them! Can you learn from it? Yay you!

      That sounds like a winning plan to me!!!!! 🙂 Love it!

  18. I prayed for Meriam. I will continue to include her in my prayers. How courageous of her to not falter in her faith despite real threats to her life!!! In this day and age, persecution for believing in Jesus still does happen, sadly.

    May God protect her and her baby as she continues to fight for her faith.

    1. Nikka,
      Thank you so much! There are many Christians being martyred today. Many times, their own family members turn them in to the government. 🙁 Meriam’s brother turned her in to the government according to the article on CNN.

      It is easy for those of us who live in freedom to forget that we have many brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are intensely persecuted and hated for their stand for Christ. The Chinese government bulldozed a church this month, saying it was illegal because it was too big. Many are in prison in countries around the world for their faith. And many are being killed.

      I am thankful that our God is able to take what people do to His sins and daughters in hatred and turn it into something beautiful and good for His Name and His kingdom. So many brothers and sisters need our prayers and support. the Voice of the Martyrs is a Christian group that exposes the horrors being done to Christians around the world and the persecution so many are suffering and seeks to give them financial aid and prayer support.

  19. Some mentioned FB here. Have others experienced conflict arising with their husbands being on FB? The time spent on there, wondering what all they’re looking at, etc…I think it goes back to the “control” issue for me.

    1. When I get remarried, I will give my wife my FB username and password, and tell her that she is welcome to log in at anytime and look at anything. I will ask only that she doesn’t post anything as if she is me.

      Same for my email.

      I’m not certain if I will ask her to do the same, or if I will just leave that up to her. We probably should both do it, or there could be hard feelings if she doesn’t.

      But what can you do if you’re already married, and your husband spends way too much time on FB? I’m not sure what to tell you, except that you shouldn’t assume that he is doing inappropriate things, other than spending too much time.

      He should at least be friends with you on FB, and in that way you can see much of what he does. If he won’t even do that, then he is hiding something.

      1. While true that part of being trustworthy is being transparent, I can’t agree this is the way to be transparent; it smacks of a “him vs. her” Orwellian nightmare. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions… (Matt7:13)

        Besides, in an established paranoid relationship like that, she would likely think, “Sure, I can see what he’s showing me but what is it that he’s distracting me from seeing?”

        Build your house on faith and trust, not “oversight”. (And this is coming from a guy who’s no stranger to keyloggers, surveillance and other such spying activities.)

  20. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    What a mess we get ourselves into when we begin to attempt to compare our lives to someone else’s life. I think this is a struggle for EVERYONE. For singles, the temptation is to look at those who are married and to be jealous of what the married women have, thinking that, “If only I had what SHE has, I would be fulfilled and content and happy in life. Everything would be perfect!”

    Problem is – that is a lie.

    Comparing ourselves to others always gets us in so much trouble. I invite you to check out this post and see why jealousy is such a problem and to investigate a new perspective you may not have thought about before!

  21. My wife does this. It has created so much anxiety in our marriage because of her expectations. I simply cannot live up to her expectations nor the comparisons to other peoples marriages. I do know that everyone’s marriage look pretty good at first glance. …but after knowing so many marriages deeper and getting to know couples, we all struggle. You cannot completely know every marriages history. Many things are hidden and never discussed among family members. Isnt this a part of cleaving? Still, I get really tired of living up to my wifes expectations and her comparisons.

    1. Broken,

      Yes, we all struggle.

      If your wife is like I was, she may think that “perfection” is possible. I used to expect myself to be perfect and my husband to be perfect – by my definition, of course. I put so much pressure on both of us. It was miserable!

      But, your wife may not know how to stop, and may not realize all that is behind her behavior. I pray for God’s wisdom and power for you to be the man He calls you to be and for God to open your wife’s eyes and for great healing in your marriage, my brother!

  22. Yes! I remember reading comparison is the death of contentment. AMEN. The times I compare anything….my daughter to other kids, my husband to other husband, etc is when I am so miserable! My husband and I used to watch the tv show The Newlywed Game. I would get so jealous of the other marriages that one day my husband told me to never turn it on again! Comparison is not good!!

  23. Wow! I read this on just the right day. I try not to compare and become discouraged but i have to admit that some days (today) i have felt very bitter and resentful also discouraged as i battle with a crippling condition that is painful and so limiting while i care for my 2.5yr old and also going through a separation from years of a very unhealthy relationship. This post reminded me to stop thinking why me and stop comparing to others lives. Being content in difficult times can only be done with God’s help as i just can’t do it on my own. Thank you April for another much needed post.

  24. April, What do you think of this book that just came out? Have you heard about it?
    http://www.amazon.com/Am-More-Than-Enough-Celebrate/dp/146211282X/ref=la_B00G4SD01S_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401492846&sr=1-1

    Here is the author talking about the book in the middle of this program about the snare of comparing and self criticism. http://www.byuradio.org/episode/7788facc87784953b5ef103b42762268/the-matt-townsend-show-self-criticism

    Thanks for all you are doing. Kory

  25. It is true we should not compare ourselves or our husbands or our marriage to the other, we also have to build confidence, for if we have confidence and boldness we will be able to be content with what we have

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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