Comparison. Self hate. And the way back Home.
Comparison is deadly.
In the Bible, we meet a man named Cain. Cain fed the idea of comparison so much that he ended up killing his own brother. He believed the lie that his value was a result of “being better" than someone else. And so, among other things, this comparison led to a self hate and furious anger that moved from internal to external.
As the story goes:
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” Genesis 4v2b-8
There’s enough in this short little story for us to think about all week (or year). For me, I feel a similar pull towards (wanting to feed) the feelings of comparison often. But these moments, the ones where we lean towards comparing ourselves to others, shouldn’t be overlooked. These small thoughts can be the seed of a soon to blossom vine of self hate and anger – therefore it’s important to become aware of our bent so that it can be processed well.
Cain worked the land. He stayed in one place for a long time. He had a home, a daily rhythm, a feeling of safety. But all this was affected and broken by his sin (choosing to reject God’s way). Cain’s daily work would no longer… well, work. His stationary home was exchanged for becoming a wanderer. And his feelings of safety and protection had been shaken as He was convinced the LORD wanted nothing to do with him now that he’d made this big mistake. (v10-14)
But the story goes on. It always does.
Cain expresses to God that his punishment is too much for him to handle… and then the LORD says this:
“Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.” Genesis 4v15
The LORD, knowing full well Cain’s momentary rejection of His instructions, still spoke with Cain. Still loved Cain. Still wanted to see Cain flourish. And did you notice the literary device in verse fifteen where it said, seven times over? Seven often symbolizes rest, something Cain felt none of in this moment. It was as if God was again inviting Cain to return to Him. Return to a way of life where he began agreeing with Love.
A friend of mine recently read this story as well and sent me this iMessage, “Even in Cain’s anger, there was a path back to Seven.”
Yes. This is what our God is like.
Even in Cain’s worst moment… the LORD was inviting him into Rest. To return to Love.
Even in our worst moments, the LORD is inviting us to come close as we recognize our way of rejecting Love only breaks the flow of Unity we’re intended to enjoy in all things.
I don’t know what’s happening in your world right now. And you may have no idea of the hurt in mine, but one thing is the same for both of us. God is always making a way for us to become more whole. And today, let’s think about the moments where we, like Cain, give value to the lie of comparison for value.
Write out the names of people you compare yourself to. Then, as you talk and listen to the LORD, keep those people in the front of your mind. Choose to release your ability to compare yourself to them.
“Father, I feel the pull to want to win. But Jesus, you let them kill you. Holy Spirit, I choose to follow you into Love in this moment. Here’s my longing to be valued and validated by _______, fill me. Here’s my anger and sadness towards myself and _______, heal me. Here’s my anxiety about not being good enough in _______’s eyes, remind me of who I am in You and You in me."