It's time to stop comparing and start rejoicing in the differences God has created.

It’s Time to Stop Comparing and Start Rejoicing

I am, by nature, a do-er, but one of my favorite, long-time friends can “squander” an entire afternoon over tea and conversation without batting a remorseful eyelash. When we were both in the trenches of parenting toddlers, we twirled long phone cords, and I heard her sleep-deprived voice say, “Sometimes I just sit on the couch and watch the kids play.”


Thunderstruck, I’m sure I must have added “Sit on couch. Watch kids play.” to my list for the next day, but I will never naturally live in the moment like that dear friend does.

Then, there’s my friend with the beautifully decorated and perpetually spotless house. I dearly love her and her glistening floors, but I am, by nature, oblivious. Once I have walked by a sock beside the coffee table three times, it magically disappears. From her, I am learning the joy of grabbing the sock on the first pass and using it to swipe dust off the piano on my way to the laundry room.

And yes, there are also giraffes, and platypuses, and the wild hyenas of the Serengeti, but I ask you, ladies and gentlemen:  Is there anything in all of God’s glorious creation that demonstrates His creativity and imagination more outrageously than human personality? God delights in our humanity, and He invites us to delight in His God-ness.

Rejoice in the Many Expressions of Orthodoxy

Why, then, are we so reluctant to celebrate the richness of orthodoxy in all its many expressions? Maybe your church (like ours) enjoys the musical gifts of both Charles Wesley AND the Gettys on a Sunday morning–or maybe you lift your voices together to psalms sung in unison. In Chapter 8 of Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton shouts “Vive la Différence!”. . . as well could be expected from a posh British intellectual:

“All modern philosophies are chains which connect and fetter; Christianity is a sword which separates and sets free. No other philosophy makes God actually rejoice in the separation of the universe into living souls.” (198)

This is an invitation to rejoice in the rich diversity of “living souls” that abound even within the walls of our own homes, which sure beats complaining about the ways in which our differences irritate and provoke.

Rejoice in the Sacred Separation

Chesterton goes on to exult in the sacred separation between God and humanity:

“That a man may love God it is necessary that there should be not only a God to be loved, but a man to love him. All those vague theosophical minds for whom the universe is an immense melting-pot are exactly the minds which shrink instinctively from that earthquake saying of our Gospels, which declare the the Son of God came not with peace but with a sundering sword.”  (198)

Jen Wilkin puts it this way in None Like Him:

“Human beings created to bear the image of God instead aspire to become like God. Designed to reflect His glory, we choose instead to rival it. We do so by reaching for those attributes that are true only of God, those suited only to a limitless being. Rather than worship and trust in the omniscience of God, we desire to be all-knowing ourselves. . . Like our father Adam and our mother Eve, we long for that which is intended only for God.”

Even with our smart phones, we are not omnipresent or omniscient. Even with our long days and our overloaded calendars, we are not infinite. Pining for that which has not been given, either in our comparison to God or to one another, is the surest path to ingratitude, discontent, envy–or worse.

Rejoice in the Process of Sanctification

God has graciously invited his much-loved children into the process of sanctification whereby we find ourselves living our way into attributes of God that not only make us more like Him, but also draw us closer to our families, friends, and all those who need our holiness, our faithfulness, and our patience in order to see what God is like.

May we find grace to celebrate humanity, mothering, wife-ing, AND orthodoxy in all their expressions and resist the urge to shoe-horn one another into ill-fitting identities that fall short of expressing all the manifold glory of God, utterly separate and other, and yet closer to us than our next breath.

As usual, your insights on Chesterton’s writing are welcome in the comments below, and if you are also inspired to create your own blog post, be sure to share the link with us so we can continue the conversation over at your place.

This post is part eight in a meandering journey through Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. If you’re just joining us, you can start here for the rationale behind this project. The journey through Orthodoxy has taken us into topics as diverse as parenting, the irony of free will, the humility of being right, and the miracle of God’s creative genius. In May, we examined Chesterton’s thoughts on patriotism just in time for Memorial Day, and in June we marveled at the “furious opposites” inherent in orthodoxy. Next month, Lord willing, we’ll conclude the series with a discussion of Chapter 9!

Joining you in resisting “the huge syntheses of humbug” (203) and leaning into the glorious freedom of truth,

michele signature rose[1]

Just one more thing:  If, like me, Orthodoxy is one of those books you’ve “always meant to read,” you’ll be glad to know that it’s available in a Kindle edition at a very low price. Amazon prices do fluctuate, but the last time I checked it was under a dollar!

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46 thoughts on “It’s Time to Stop Comparing and Start Rejoicing”

  1. Your post finally did it. It gave me the push I needed. I went to Amazon (Smile) and bought the whole collection (50 books!) for 1.99. It should be on my Kindle now! Can’t wait to begin reading. Thank you, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not read that particular book, but I have read–and enjoyed–his book “Defiant Joy”. You have spoken a lot of good wisdom here, Michele. Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately I do not have an e-reader, and my Kindle for PC seems to have hidden itself deep inside my computer and is no longer accessible along with all the books I have for it.


  3. For a long time I was in a culture in which everyone who did church and Christian living different in any way was considered “worldly.” It took many years, experiences, and Bible study to realize that God didn’t make cookie cutter Christians. I think Spurgeon said something like there’s no true unity without truth, and so much instruction in the NT epistles warns against false doctrine, so we do have to be aware of that. But too many elevate their preferences to the same level as core doctrine. It’s been a rich experience to learn that I can love and fellowship with people who come down on the other side of my practices yet love God every bit as much, and even better, than I do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The culture you are describing is exactly what I was thinking about as I wrote this post. We Christians are so quick to put everyone in matching straight jackets–and then we wonder why no one is drawn to the beauty of Jesus!


  4. I love this Michelle. I always thought I had the strangest viewpoint when I would say, “I think God intentionally created so many ways to worship so that everyone can feel at home somewhere.” And yet we bicker and judge over the craziest things, me included in that we. I have to be careful not to allow how someone differs from me, whether I admire or frown on it, truly keep me from loving or accepting that person.


  5. Ah, yes, will we ever be totally free of this temptation to compare in nearly every area! How the enemy loves to taunt us with this sort of thing. It’s almost like trying to stay ahead of dandelions in a beautiful green lawn. They keep coming back!!


  6. I love the idea of rejoicing in God’s creativity as expressed through our fellow humans. I feel like our little writing community does that well!


  7. Michele, this is the paragraph that grabbed me this morning: “This is an invitation to rejoice in the rich diversity of ‘living souls’ that abound even within the walls of our own homes, which sure beats complaining about the ways in which our differences irritate and provoke.” I am constantly encouraging (ahem) my loved ones to be more patient and slower to judge the people who irritate them, but then I find my own self getting frustrated because those same loved ones don’t always conform to my own set of preferences. “Grace to celebrate humanity”… yes, that’s what I need, no matter where that humanity resides. 🙂


  8. I couldn’t agree more. There are things that drive me up the wall whether it’s something my hubby does or my son. But at the end of the day, we are all different and we need to embrace that in order for us to see the world in a different way. A lot of the times I think we have an image of how a person should be or how they should act but totally not the case. God made us all beautiful in our own way and we just need to see that.

    Maureen |


    1. So true, and we are called to a different way of living that appreciates differences rather than letting them make us all prickly. As Amy Carmichael would have said, “See in it a chance to die.”


  9. Thank you for highlighting this particular gem out of Chesterton’s rich thought. The diversity of living souls as a thing of God’s design! I have only to consider what the world would be like if it only consisted of my sort of person and I KNOW this is a good thing! But then I get caught up in imitation as if I were ‘behind’ rather than just-as-designed for God’s own set of purposes… (I hope that made sense?! I’m still settling into the joy of my own skin at this ripe old half century…) And, though late to the party, I have made a collection of Chesterton’s witticisms and etc at my Quotes and Notes blog here:
    I love the way you landed on an upbeat emphasis, Michele. You are such an encourager. My post is more somber. But Chesterton always manages to bring a chuckle! So mostly I’ve highlighted his words!


    1. I have your post in my inbox and am awaiting a quiet moment to savor the review of this chapter. I’m SO GLAD you used the “synthesis of humbug” as a title! Isn’t that just the juiciest and most delightfully grumpy phrase??
      I had a really hard time deciding where to land this month because there was so much good stuff in this chapter. At the risk of over-simplifying, I tend to go with a homely application, because truly, Chesterton’s writing is pretty deep weeds for this sandwich maker. Only one more chapter to go, and I’m trying to assess my overall response to the book. I guess I’m surprised to find that it was as challenging as it was, but really glad to have connected the dots between all those great quotes I’ve read all over the place for years.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Michele, this post reminds me once again – – it’s time to read Orthodoxy which I pulled off my shelf and have been wanting to read all summer. This is what grabbed me this morning: “This is an invitation to rejoice in the rich diversity of ‘living souls’ that abound even within the walls of our own homes, which sure beats complaining about the ways in which our differences irritate and provoke.” Amen!


    1. Yes, Chesterton was not a parent, but I think he’d have thoroughly enjoyed children. His mindset comes through as open and flexible in his writing! Hope you find time in your busy days to open the book and enjoy! It’s a heavy read (in my opinion!) but worth the effort to connect the dots between all the Chesterton quotes I’ve been reading all these years.


  11. Thank you for the tip on what to do with dirty socks! But all joking aside, I can see how easy it is to think that OUR way is right and to not be open and accepting to other people’s ways. I confess I was guilty of that this weekend. We have a new pastor. The pastor and elders walked in during the opening hymn (not on the stage, since the screen with the opening hymn dominates the stage). When the congregation started singing the second stanza, they all knelt down. I felt very uncomfortable. To me, it looks like they’re trying to set themselves apart as holier. I feel awkward. Do I kneel, too? I’m not much for pomp in worship. I found myself judging the new pastor and wishing he wouldn’t try to change things and make everyone feel awkward. What does one do when one person’s orthodoxy gets in the way of worship?


    1. Ack! I hear you, Anita. That’s a rough place to sit, and I think we’re in for more of it as we get older and things change around us. It’s hard not to turn every. single. thing. into an opportunity for crabbiness. Amy Carmichael had the right idea: “See in it a chance to die.”
      Even if I’m right, and the person who is “offending” me is really actually in the wrong, it’s a chance for me to let my opinions die a quiet and self-effacing death. So hard to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Even though we fight against it, struggle with our adult versions of peer pressure, and constantly want to measure ourselves by ourselves and everyone else, how boring life would be if we were all alike! Thanks for reminding us of that.


  13. Yes, there are SO many different types of personalities out here in our world. It amazes me too. 🙂 (And I’m always amazed at people who can talk on the phone for hours. It’s just not in me. ha. )


    1. The phone was a lifeline to me when my kids were tiny, but, like you, I’m finding myself using the phone less and social media and texting more. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not . . .


  14. Amen to all this!! A friend and I are marveling yesterday that God created male and female, plus human personality…and then marriage and family, where all these differences rub up against each other in a way that is somehow most joyful and wonderful! Your post added to the wonder and awe! Thank you!


  15. Everyone’s different and has different ways to get through the day. I’m going through the toddler days for the third time and am at the sleep deprived stage where I collapse on the sofa to watch the kids play (close my eyes!). Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging


  16. You hit an area of my own reflection in this post today. The process of sanctification is one that we try to bypass or supersede forgetting that God invited us into the process. As I go through my own discovery of identity (learning I am who I am because of God) your words today remind me once again that my uniqueness is as beautiful as yours. That is enough.


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