For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
(2 Corinthians 10:12)
When I was about twelve or thirteen, my cousin and I were best friends (still more like sisters than cousins till this day). We did everything together and shared every secret with one another. One week she came to spend spring break with me after I hadn’t seen her in a while. At that time one of my biggest sources of teenage accomplishment was how well my hair was growing. I was quite pleased with myself. Well my cousin arrived at my house sporting her hair in two simple braided ponytails on each side of her head. I was both shocked and dismayed to see that my cousin’s hair (her actual hair) was down her back, almost waist-length.
Wait a minute.
How did she achieve such an awesome amount of growth when my hair hadn’t even reached shoulder length? For the rest of the week, I would stare and obsess over my cousin’s hair. I could barely enjoy the time we had together because I was so focused on the fact that her hair was so much longer than mine. I would ask her questions about her hair care regiment while trying not to seem too interested. At one point, I considered cutting off her ponytail while she slept (I didn’t DO IT! Lol, I just thought about it a lot). Comparing my hair growth to my cousin’s left me jealous, totally dissatisfied and borderline resentful of someone I considered one of my best friends.
That little anecdote is my way of sharing with you that I have struggled with the need to compare myself to others for a very long time. Regardless of what the object of comparison happened to be, the result was usually the same – I was left dissatisfied, envious and borderline resentful if I found my portion inadequate in comparison to another’s.
There were very very rare times when I would find myself the “winner’ of these contests that take place in my mind. One of the things I’ve always been grateful for is a slender and athletic physique that takes little effort to maintain. Once I reached adolescence and realized that I would never be one of the girls with the perfect hour glass figure, the one with the biggest breasts or most shapely backside, the best I could do was strive to be the most slender and athletically built. I was on a constant venture of comparing and contrasting my body to ANY other woman who crossed my path. If I find my competition to be a bit more rounded or less toned than me, then I WON! I was more beautiful than whoever this other woman might be and I could go about my day gloating inwardly about my success. This mindset made my body a source of pride and obsession. I HAD to stay skinny. I would FREAK OUT if people told me that I looked like I gained weight. Nine times out of ten they meant it to be complimentary but I would not see it as so. I couldn’t be “average” weight and built. I HAD TO BE SLENDER! That was all I had going for me and I had every intention of holding on to my title.
Comparing my life to others left me with one of two options – envy or pride. When I came to Christ, I found my worth in who God says that I am and in what Christ has done to redeem me. I no longer needed to compare my physical attributes with those of other women. So I moved on to spiritual attributes. All around me were women who were serving Christ diligently. Some of them had the love and respect of people whose approval I had chased after for years and never received it. Were these women somehow more godly than me? Were they more loving, more beautiful in their service of our Lord? Was that why everyone who didn’t seem to care one way or the other about me seemed to flock to their sides? What about their spiritual gifts? Weren’t theirs somehow “better” than mine since I was new in Christ and they had operated in these miraculous callings for years? The results of these “secret” competitions in my mind were the same as they were before i came to Christ. I would find myself envious when I didn’t measure up or prideful when I “won”. Comparing spiritual attributes and not physical one was no less sinful in the eyes of God nor did it yield any less destructive results. I was still weighed down by feelings of inadequacy that stemmed from my constant comparing to others in and out of the body of Christ. I was still operating in false humility (pride) when I found myself “better” in areas of my walk than other Christians.
There was no way I could ever see the fullness of God in my life if something did not change about my petulance for comparing all aspects of my life to others. God used one of my sisters in Christ to call me on my pride about two years ago. That conversation was a slap in the face and a reality check that I badly needed. I sat down with the Holy Spirit as He began to expose me to me. Around the same time I started reading a book that exposed the demonic foundation of the spirit of comparison. The angel Lucifer who became satan began his fall from grace by comparing himself to God, becoming both prideful as well as envious and trying to be as God in the Heavens (Isaiah 14:12-21). The fact that the attributes that I was manifesting as I compared myself looked A LOT like the enemy and nothing like Christ was a shock and a blow! I fell on my knees in repentance and asked God for the grace to stop comparing my live with others. I asked for a heart of thankfulness about the things He has given me. I asked Him to help me humble myself before He had to step in and humble me (when God HAS TO humble you, the pain of brokenness is NO JOKE!). All this didn’t happen in one moment; rather it’s a continuous work that the Holy Spirit has to do with me as He continues to refine me in my walk with Christ.
I am grateful to the Lord for teaching me just how demonic comparison is. This lesson has made it easier for me not to envy any other person’s portion, no matter how many wonderful pictures they post on Instagram, how many “likes” their thoughts receive on Facebook or how many gushing approval their tweets garner on Twitter. I am ever grateful to God for my portion. I am learning by His grace to rejoice in EVERYTHING I have and not worry about what I do not have. I serve the God who owns the Heavens and the Earth; no good thing will He withhold from me because my delight is in Him and Him alone.
I am thankful for my physical attributes because God gave me enough of what I needed to serve Him and feel beautiful in that service – any more and I would be worshipping my looks, any less and I would be obsessed with a sense of inadequacy. I am thankful for my marriage and my amazing husband. If you ask any of my married girlfriends you would think we are all married to the same man because each one of us is convinced that her husband is the best man in the entire universe lol. It’s not because our men are perfect; it’s because we have chosen to celebrate the marriage and the lives that God has graced us with and refuse to be discontent in any of it. Whatever is not going as it ought has been submitted to Christ daily and we trust Him to have His way in those areas.
I pray that this post will cause you, my wonderful readers, to abandon the spirit of comparison and pray for a heart of thankfulness. Your joys will be multiplied and your sorrows divided as you learn to thank God for His many blessings upon your life.