Theodore Rosevelt is famous for a number of quotes one of which is, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I thought it was perhaps a very fitting quote coming from someone who was unable to walk on his own two feet. Other than that I do not know what he may have been comparing himself to and fell short. He was the president of the United States. Surely, someone with the prestige, power, and principle would have little to compare himself to others and fall short. I mean, I know that we all have our insecurities but really if anything, you would think they would have less to feel down about themselves. What did you do today? Oh, I changed the world. I am a world leader. As long as you’re sure that you’re leading people in the right direction,there seems to be a winning superiority in any comparison. So he should be joyful. Actually, maybe he said it to the rest of us that are not filled with joy. What other wisdom did he have? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. oh, wait that is the Bible not the president.
I was reflecting on joy and comparison the other night at Adoration. Well mainly because I would like to have more joy in my life and spread more joy to my family and friends. The thing is I really do not think I spend a great deal of time in my day devoted to comparing myself to others. I am grateful for practically everything. Although fleeting, I know I have joy in my life. So why would it be that I am not as joyful as the next person. Perhaps that is where my fault falls, it is in thinking that the next person has more joy, but actually I think some do.
So what does the Bible say about joy? To sing praises to God. Be thankful right? Is it really suppose to be that simple? I have kept gratitude lists, think thankful thoughts, devoted journalling to thankfulness, pray with thanksgiving, and shared with others the things I am grateful for. After a while of having a list, eventually since you do not want to repeat the same things on the list, there are some odd things on there. So much so I start fo judge myself on my thankful list and decide my list is too weird to publish. I mean really, who is thankful for their hair flattner, a store boughten aqua beaded frame, and being able to discover the source of a bad kitchen smell? (Hidden rotten potatoe in their pantry)
Anyhow, I was thankful for the beautiful pink lilies that were near Jesus last night. Actually, I don’t recall ever seeing all pink ones before. I am sure I must have but nope I don’t ever think I paid enough attention to notice that lilies naturally come in pastel pink too. Beautiful. I am thankful for… actually you know what, there is a lamp cover that is different then the rest. I sat there questioning why that small little nonsensical thing was seemingly stealing my joy in the moment of trying to find joy. Ok so there are six covers and one is not like the other. (Not that it needs fixed—-all things can work for God’s glory) They all have a matted finish except one. One has a shinny finish. I do not know how many times I have spent distracted time in Adoration thinking, I wonder what happened. Like did someone miss stalk the shelves, did someone grab the wrong one out of the truck, did they mean for two to be shinny cause that would make things more balanced, does anyone else even notice? There I find myself not praising God in front of God himself. Saints have given their life to be in such a blessed place. JESUS IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. However, here I am contemplating how someone goofed up a job as I goof up my job to pray or to be in awe. Didn’t I just publish pray without ceasing and I find myself not quite there in time devoted for such things. I am so blessed that I take things for granted. There it is. No matter how much I think I may be suffering in any comparison, I am too blessed that the thankfulness is more just surface and worldly. I don’t take it far enough to tie it back to God. The walls have a great yellow hue, there are fresh cut flowers everywhere, there is art on the walls, there is not just one candle but seven, and the space is comfortable. As, I find myself focused on the surface things, it is not necessary making me joyless but it likely isn’t moving me towards deep joy either. At least not efficiently as singing praises to God. Thank God for consecrated hosts, thank God for colors, thank God for flowers, thank God other’s artistic talent, thank God for light, thank God for fire, thank God for warmth, thank God for everything that makes us all uniquely grateful. Cue tears of gratefulness. Compare that list to anything else and it will fall short of God’s glory. You know what, that short refocused list of being grateful to the source actually does bring joy.