How to Stop Comparisons?
By Xu Qing
Fei has been in a music training class for over half a month and she has always studied hard. Although she learned the music theory slowly and often worriedly looked at the thick books when sitting at her desk, yet, relatively, she was still a good student in the class.
One day, a new learner came to the class. Fei looked her up and down: She, with a good appearance, was young and beautiful, dainty and lovely. And Fei also wondered how the new learner’s music theory was and whether it was better than hers. At this time, the new learner came to Fei and said hello warmly, “How do you do! I’m Qin. I don’t understand anything about it. Please kindly give me your advice in future.” Fei doesn’t like talking with others initiatively, so she simply responded, “I also came here only a short time ago and I don’t understand anything either.” Having heard Fei’s response, Qin picked up a book and read it. At this time, the teacher came in and gave them a class. Then, the teacher said to Fei, “You came here before Qin. You can help her.” Fei nodded reluctantly.
Afterward, when Fei saw the teacher praised Qin’s audition, she felt uneasy in her heart; the jealousy crept up within her. Then Fei started to fixate her eyes on Qin. She saw that Qin was clearly an adult but still had a voice like a child, and the teacher also said that Qin’s tone color was rare and special and that she was the one who should be a focus of cultivation. Fei muttered in her heart, “Your tone color is special? I feel you are just acting endearingly. You are too ready to make an exhibition of yourself. You are too ready to be in the limelight. Can’t you control yourself a little? You are so noisy that I was distracted.” Being jealous of Qin, Fei didn’t want to help her.
One morning, Qin asked Fei, “Excuse me, I don’t understand this question. Could you help me?” Hearing Qin’s words, Fei thought: It’s so good that you don’t understand. If I tell you and you surpass me, what should I do? Besides, when I just came here, I also pondered over what I didn’t understand by myself. Thinking of this, Fei tactfully said to Qin, “I don’t understand the question either. I still don’t know many things. You learn quickly. I believe you can understand it gradually after reading several times.” Hearing Fei’s words like this, Qin sat down in her chair disappointedly and continued to read her book. Having said these, Fei suddenly thought that she is a Christian, and that her doing this is not in line with. But the words were out and couldn’t be taken back. Then she thought: When I learned at the beginning, there was no classmate teaching me. I just understood after reading the books little by little. She didn’t read carefully but wanted me to teach her; why do I have to do this? I can’t allow her to exceed me. At this time, the vague annoyance welled up in her heart.
Later, when Fei saw Qin indeed learned quickly and that Qin had already understood what she didn’t, she was wild with anxiety, like ripples undulating in her heart. To not fall behind Qin, Fei began to use every minute she could spare to read books, even when she should read God’s words. She kept her head employed to catch up with Qin. Because she stayed up late to read books, sometimes, when she had class in daytime, her head was heavy. After a period of time, Fei had nothing to show for her efforts, but Qin became favored because of her outstanding performance. When hearing the teacher praising Qin, Fei felt embarrassed. She thought: I have never gained such high praise from the teacher since I came here. You just have been here for a few days, but everyone in the class revolves around you. Since you came here, there is no place for me. Everyone likes and praises you. I’m not inferior to you. I have given no less effort than you, but why do I have no gains? Why do I feel so tired and toilsome when I study? Fei shed tears secretly at the side. Originally, Fei was a better student in the training class. However, due to Qin’s coming, Fei fell behind. Fei’s heart was filled with pains that were caused by hate and depression, and it often spoke its voiceless complaint: “O God! Since You made Fei, why did You make Qin?”
In pain, Fei hopelessly prayed to God. After that, she opened the book of God’s word and saw these God’s words: “What is the cause of this pain? Is it because of God’s sovereignty, or because a person was born unlucky? Obviously neither is true. At bottom, it is because of the paths people take, the ways people choose to live their lives.” “So Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts until all they can think of is fame and gain. … In this way, Satan binds man with invisible shackles. These shackles are borne on people’s bodies, and they have not the strength nor courage to throw them off. So people trudge ever onward in great difficulty, unknowingly bearing these shackles.”
After seeing God’s words, she realized that her pain was not brought by others nor caused by the environment that is incompatible with her wishes. In fact, it was because of her improper views of pursuit—“Stand out from others and pursue to stand high among people” and “A tree lives with its bark; a man lives with his face,” which infused into her heart. So she always pursued to be glorified among persons, thinking that it would be wonderful only if she gained others’ praise and attention. Once she saw whoever surpassed her, she would compare with them; when she couldn’t catch up with them and her vanity could not be satisfied, she would be jealous and suffering. Fei carefully thought back to how she compared with Qin in this period of time: When Qin asked me something she didn’t understand, I didn’t tell her, afraid that she would surpass me; afterward, when the teacher praised Qin, I thought Qin stole the show from me, so I was full of complaint and not keen on her in everything, and I also studied hard secretly, reading books day and night and keeping my brain employed in any time; to surpass Qin, I even occupied the time when I should read God’s words and worship God. At last, I was exhausted physically and mentally. Not only did I not make much progress in the skill, but felt miserable because of the jealousy. Through God’s words, Fei knew that reputation and status are snares for Satan to bind people. Satan does use her pursuit of winning others’ praise to make her fall into the tap of comparing with others. Finally, she had no inclination to pursue the truth, living in the snares of Satan. Having seen through Satan’s sinister intention, Fei didn’t want to be led around on a leash by Satan. So she prayed to God, begging Him to lead her to walk out of the state that she strived for fame and fortune so that she would not compare with Qin.
One day, when the teacher praised Qin in front of Fei, Fei still felt uncomfortable. She thought: Why can’t you leave me a chance and recommend me to sing? Why can’t you be humble? Fei’s heart of striving for fame and fortune began to leap in anticipation again. Just at this time, she suddenly realized that this environment was created for her by God. Even though she knew that she shouldn’t compare with Qin, she was jealous of Qin in spite of herself and felt suffering. So she prayed to God silently in her heart: “God! Seeing that Qin is better than me, I always want to compare with her and don’t want to fall behind her; I also want to show off and make others think highly of me. When I can’t gain this, I’m jealous of her and feel awful. God, please help me.” After the, Fei calmed down a little.
Subsequently, she saw the following passage in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “Is it easy to change your jealousy into admiration? Just try to look on the bright side of others, all right? Since some people are better than us, they set good examples for us, so we can learn from them. We can also ask them about things we don’t understand. Isn’t this one more path for us to improve ourselves?”
After reading this fellowship, Fei had a path to practice: When encountering the things that involved fame and status, I must consciously fight with my corrupt disposition, and learn to set them aside and give them up. What’s more, when seeing others’ advantages, I must learn to treat them correctly and learn from each other; thus I would no longer treat Qin as my opponent. In this way, won’t I gain joy and peace? Then she thought: In this period of time, God arranges Qin at my side, which makes me unconsciously derive many benefits from her. Qin has many advantages and strong points that I don’t have. For example, Qin is cheerful and energetic, willing to help others. Normally, when Qin saw that I encountered difficulties in practicing intonation alone, she would initiatively help me. As for me, I’m a person who is introvert, shy and mean, and who doesn’t like asking others for help either. Today, God arranging Qin at my side is to let me learn Qin’s strong points and make up for my deficiencies. At this time, Fei breathed a deep sigh and felt released.
Later, Fei’s desire to strive for fame and interests became weaker and her relationship with Qin also became better and better. In addition, Fei would actively tell Qin the knowledge that she had learned but Qin didn’t understand; Qin also told Fei the knowledge that she had understood. Not comparing with Qin anymore, Fei’s heart was finally relaxed and released.