“Stay in your own lane.”
Recently I had coffee with a dear friend and mentor and this was her advice for me. It’s such a simple phrase, but so incredibly hard to live out.
I’ve always struggled with comparison. Rather than focusing on the individual journey God has for me, I often find myself looking to the left and right to see what everyone else is doing. This causes me to constantly re-evaluate myself. My identity becomes based on how I measure up to others, rather than on how God sees me.
Sometimes I wish that social media had never been invented. In my opinion, social media is what most strongly fuels comparison in our society today. And it is such an inauthentic representation of reality. On social media we present a collection of all of our best, most polished moments. We showcase our vacations, adventures, and our best moments with friends and family. While none of these are inherently wrong, they don’t accurately represent day to day life. As a result, we end up comparing the mundane, ordinary aspects of our daily life to brief, seemingly perfect snapshots of other people’s lives. It’s no wonder that social media sparks comparison and competition.
Although I appreciate the way that social media lets me connect with people who live far away, I’ve recently become profoundly aware of it’s negative impact my life. There is a direct correlation between my sense of contentment and the amount of time I spend online.
For example, as a definite introvert, I deeply value my alone time. My introversion is a key part of how God has wired me and something I actually really enjoy about myself. However, when I get online and see people appearing to be so social and outgoing, I tend to question this aspect of myself and wish that I had a greater capacity for people. I start to view my introversion as a flaw in my personality rather than as a gift.
The same is true about my singleness. Although I am enjoying this season of my life and don’t feel in a big rush to get married or have my own family, that can change when I get online and see so many people getting married and having kids. I start to wonder if I’m missing out and fear that I’m falling behind.
My problem is that I’m not staying in my own lane. Instead, I’m meandering into other people’s lanes and analyzing how my progress in the journey measures up to theirs. And this is such a deadly trap. I’m learning that comparison is a game I will never win. There will always be someone more connected, more adventurous, more attractive, and more successful.
However, when I stay in my own lane and fix my eyes on Jesus, everything changes. I realize that I’m exactly where I need to be and that God is pleased with me. I remember my identity as daughter, friend, and beloved of God. And I feel a sense of deep contentment about where I’m at in my journey.
It’s the joy that comes from staying in my own lane.