It is not beneficial in any way to compare yourself to someone else. To allow ourselves to believe this is to believe a lie. In fact, comparing causes us to believe something inherently false about ourselves. If we are not as good, as smart, as capable, as strong, as powerful, etc. as someone else, we must be the opposite of those things. Focusing on what we are not and what we do not have sends us into a downward spiral to nowhere good. Focusing on what we want, however, can be helpful. Saying something like the following can lead us somewhere good: “Jane is so thoughtful and kind. I never hear her say an unkind word. I want to be more like that.” Or “John has such an awesome grasp of that concept. I would like to learn more about that so that I can sound like I know what I’m talking about, like he does.” Saying something that urges us to do better is good. Putting ourselves down because we don’t feel like we measure up is not helpful at all. This is what I want to address in this post. It sort of goes along with the last post about worthlessness because if we’re comparing and wishing to be something we’re not and don’t feel like we can ever be, we’re feeling pretty worthless, and we’re most likely telling ourselves that we’re not thrilled about who we are.
This is another tool of the devil’s. He doesn’t like himself, so he would love for us to feel worthless and useless. He is successful if he can get us to feel it at our very core, to really believe that we are nothing. “…And [men] are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:27) “And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.” (2 Nephi 2:18)
Let me speculate about how this all began with a personal experience. Recently I learned of a deep and subconscious belief that I was just not good enough—not good enough for a husband and children, for a good job, for my own home, and for many other blessings I had thought I was entitled to. Consciously I wondered why I wasn’t getting these things, while all the time there was this subconscious belief that I really didn’t deserve them. I wondered where this came from. What would cause me to believe this about myself? With the assistance of an insightful friend, we determined that in the beginning, when all of us were with our Father, God, when the plan for this earth life was being formulated and taking shape, I looked at our older brother, Jesus Christ, and I compared myself to him, and not in a good way. After all, he could do anything. He was the smartest, the wisest, the most kind, had the best ideas, was willing to sacrifice everything he was for me and expect no reward. He was the ideal person, and we all needed an ideal person—someone to admire and emulate. The thing I did wrong was to think that I could never measure up to him, and therefore what could I possibly bring to the table? And of course I believe that Lucifer, or one of his followers, was right there to back up that thought, to convince me that I was probably right, and so why try? I could never be Jesus. I could never be a Savior. I believe that that thought got stuck there in my heart. It got stuck in my core belief system, so no matter how hard I tried to emulate him and do what he wanted me to do, I would never be quite as good. One can take a look at my life and see how that belief has absolutely not helped me and has instead kept me stuck. Until I learned the truth.
The truth is this: I will never be Jesus, but I am not meant to be. He came to earth to fulfill his mission and I came to fulfill mine, and they are not the same. “Truly, we may each be an instrument in the hands of God. Happily, we need not all be the same kind of instrument. Just as the instruments in an orchestra differ in size, shape, and sound, we too are different from one another. We have different talents and inclinations, but just as the French horn cannot duplicate the sound of the piccolo, neither is it necessary for us to all serve the Lord in the same way.” (Mary Ellen Smoot, “We Are Instruments in the Hands of God”) Jesus Christ’s mission was huge. He was an example for each of us, and we are to follow him. Mine is maybe not as huge, but in my realm of influence I can have just as much impact. The truth is that you and I have our own special gifts and abilities and missions to perform while we are here. The Savior cannot be everywhere all at once, helping everyone who needs help, guiding and instructing and doing everything that needs to be done among all of the people of the earth. I imagine him saying what President Gordon Hinckley said on one occasion: “Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere…All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others…You have as great an opportunity for satisfaction in the performance of your duty as I do in mine. The progress of this work will be determined by our joint efforts. Whatever your calling, it is as fraught with the same kind of opportunity to accomplish good as is mine. What is really important is that this is the work of the Master. Our work is to go about doing good as did He.” (here’s the link) The Lord himself said this, to you and to me: “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.” (Doctrine and Covenants 81:5-6)
I don’t have to be Jesus, but I do need to strive to be like him. If I want to be like him I will have to do what he did. I don’t have to do exactly as he did, but I have to be obedient as he was, and fulfill the mission I came here to perform. I like to think I’m on that path.