How to Handle Jealousy and Comparison During College Acceptance and Scholarship Season

I thought my great maturity would take over when I heard that a friend’s daughter had full scholarships to two different schools and more on the way. We had just heard the news of rejection about a scholarship in our own family. The burning sting of jealousy rose in my chest as I thought about this other daughter’s bright future. Once again, I thought of all the things we didn’t have and wouldn’t have.

I knew this was coming.

A decade ago, I wondered about this stage of life in which I now find myself. I was a jealous mother who compared my life to everyone else’s. How would someone like me handle the college admissions process? Wouldn’t I be jealous over everyone else’s good news? I let my life stretch out before me. Would I also live in jealousy about other families as they celebrated marriage proposals and then grandchildren? When would the comparison end?

During that time in my life God intervened (as He does!) and led me to Ephesians 2:6. It reads like this: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” The image of my being presently seated with Christ at the table my heart always longed for saved me. It saved me from present jealousy as a mother of young children. This same verse now provided a rapid and precise antidote to the jealousy I felt as I learn–and continue to learn–about everyone else’s marvelous college plans for their children.

As I sat in the same mustard recliner that has held me for a lifetime now, through holding babies all the way to this moment as I clutch a Bible and journal and cry out to God, I knew the truth:

Another person’s blessings never diminish my own. Another person’s good news provides a stunning invitation to rejoice in the goodness of God to richly bless us all. And because I know my daughter is seated with Christ in the heavenly realms and already at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King with good works prepared in advanced and designed specifically for her to do (Ephesians 2:10), I need not compare her life to anyone else. She won’t miss out on one blessing God has designed for her.

But the rejoicing went deeper than I’ve ever felt before. I felt part of a large, great family where your daughter’s good news became my good news. We are together in this. Your victory is my victory. Your blessing becomes mine. We are journeying together. I felt a little explosion of love. I felt a deep joy that God is good to all His children, and this goodness will manifest in a million different unique ways. And He gives us this very life we have now because it’s the perfect one for us. It won’t look like yours at all.

I tell my youngest daughter this. We’ll never be TikTok famous with companies sending us gift baskets of products. We’ll never be Instagram influencers or youtube viral. It all looks so fun and glamorous, I said. But this is our life, not that one. And neither one is better or more special. We are seated with Jesus in the seat designed for us.

I remember the Hayden Planetarium quote that “all seats provide equal viewing of the universe.” No matter where we sit, we won’t miss any part of the show. No matter what happens, we have equal access to all the blessings of God. Whether in college or not, with scholarships or not, with marriage proposals or not, we are in the best seat already.

And that truth saved me today.

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