Anybody that knows me well knows that I have an obsession with old, abandoned houses.  The more decrepit it is, the more I love it. 
My all-time favorite book is an oldie called “The Enchanted Barn” by Grace Livingston Hill.  In the story, the main character transforms an abandoned barn into a cozy home for her family.  I have a dream of someday fixing up an old house for someone I love.  I don’t know how or when or if that might ever happen.  But I dream…

Apparently, when it comes to purchasing a home, the key to knowing its worth is to check comparable house values in the neighborhood.  Based on my extensive professional HGTV watching, this is called getting “comps”.  If I see an old shack for sale for $10,000, I want to make sure that a similar rat trap next door isn’t selling for $1,000. That just makes good financial sense.
 
This world runs on “comps”.
 
Martha Stewart is the high end comp for homemaking skills.  Mother Theresa is the ultimate comp in selflessness.  Hitler is the base comp for abject evil.  And so on and so forth.
 
So, depending on who or what we compare ourselves to… we either come out as high value, or low value.  I have found that I have a major weakness when it comes to hanging out with people who are my opposite.  I end up questioning my value.  Here are the kind of people who I admire, and want to be like, and am really nothing like at all:
 

1. Serving People

These are the kind of people that are available for you 24/7.  You know that if you ever needed anything, they would do their best to provide it.  These wonderful people can often be caught giving/nurturing/loving others at all hours of the day and night.  This is nothing like me… I am only available for extending kindness for short and limited times, providing I do not already have an insignificant task/project/activity already in progress.
 

2. Outgoing People

Again, these are the ones who are friendly and have unlimited energy to spend with others.  I know that if I were to request some time with them, they would be willing, glad even, to accept.  Unlike me… I have to mentally gear up for 5 hours to spend 5 minutes with somebody… even when I love them with all my heart.
 

3. Busy People

These ones may be my biggest challenge.  These are the people whose schedules are filled up with really worthwhile, noble, love-based activities.  These people limit their TV time, alone time, goofing off time, and nap time so they can expend their energy on the things that really count.  Meanwhile, I feel like giving up my nap time would quite possibly cause a first-world melt down. 

When I think of the kind of person I want to be… the three I just described are really it.  When I think of the kind of people I wish the entire Christian church was made up of… these three are it. 

But, where does that leave me?  I don’t fit in with my own list of High Value People.
 
Comps. Comparisons. They are deadly. They will either make us feel really good about ourselves or really bad about ourselves. I find that the Comparison Trap is triggered when I spend time with someone who is decidedly different than myself.  I often feel insignificant, incomplete, lacking.  Those moms who take their kids to every event?  Way better than me.  The wives who cook a fresh, hot breakfast each morning?  Way better.  Those women who handle careers and families simultaneously? Muy muy better.  Those ladies who attend lots of church functions and help out? Muy Muy Bueno Bueno-er.
 
I suspect I might trigger the Comp Game in others as well.  I’m sure I have some things I do well that others might not… I just don’t value them all that much because they come easy.  My house is usually pretty clean, but I prefer to go to messy houses because they feel chill, comfortable and lived in.  I like to write… but I do it because I’m no good at socializing.  I enjoy organizing and administration tasks… but only because they soothe my disorganized and chaotic brain.
 
When it comes to comps… here’s the worst/best comp of all:  me vs. Jesus.  I mean… that’s me vs. absolute perfection. Holiness.  Everything done the right way.  If I see Jesus as a comparison only, I miss the point.  After all… who really comes even close to Jesus?
 
Psalm 89:6
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?

 
Isaiah 40:25
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.


Jesus is meant to be our measure… leading to the end of measurements.  The end of comparisons! The freedom to just be ourselves, hidden within His perfection.  He is the ultimate comp that releases us from all comps.  The super-comp.
 
So when I start feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, lacking, incomplete, and low value, I return to my bible to remember the truth.  Then I can settle back into the peace of being just who I am, in Christ.  Nobody says it quite like God says it:
 
Galatians 6:4-5
But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

 
My journey won't look like yours, and yours won't look like mine.  These spiritual journeys are a private, intimate thing... just between us and God. I need to remember: variety is beautiful. 

I bet you have a list of comps that make you feel low value too.  Maybe you envy people who keep their houses clean, who are smart, good at school, respected, funny, serious, great at parenting, hard working, whatever.  Don’t be fooled.  The comps don’t tell the truth about your value.  You are priceless.
 
Going back to abandoned houses… what if I bought an old fixer upper for a truly outlandish price? I was willing to pay any price, because I could see the potential.  Maybe I can envision what an investment of love would do to the place, revealing all that hidden worth.  And what if I never even got comps on the rest of the neighborhood, because I just plain old loved that one particular old house?  Maybe it’s just priceless… the value too high to even compare.
 

Hey… I think that’s how God might see me.
And you.
Beyond comparison, in Jesus.


P. S.  The abandoned Flavel House pictured above was purchased by Greg Newenhof in 2015 for $221,901. Newenhof plans to slowly restore and live in the 115 year old home. My guess is he saw a diamond in the rough, and no comps were needed. You can read more here.  Photo via http://imgur.com/1XUM2kS
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