I was feeling pretty darn good, as I stared at myself in the mirror.
And then, I went to work out class…
“Comparison is the thief of joy”, Theodore Roosevelt said. Ain’t that the sad truth?
A fulfilling life is one where we connect with people – not compare ourselves to, or compete with them. But, all of us fall prey to comparison, perhaps even unconsciously. None the less, we put other women under a microscope and dissect their lives piece by piece; and then see how each piece measures up against us. Sometimes we feel superior about our findings. Usually we dread them. Neither make us happy, because when we stack ourselves up against one another, we are exactly that – against ourselves, and against one another.
[bctt tweet=”A fulfilling life is one where we connect with people, not compete with them” username=”DanielleMac80″]
Back to the mirror – I was feeling pretty good about myself. I didn’t mind what was staring back at me… until work out class, that is. There is no easier way for a woman to fall into the comparison trap, than standing in a room with thirty other athletic chicks, all wall to wall, floor to ceiling mirrors. It is an invitation for dejection. All of a sudden, I didn’t like at all, what was staring back at me in those mirrors.
At the front of the class stood an amazingly sweet instructor with quite a few years on me, more than twice the amount of kids than me, and yet a way waaaay tinier hiney. We’re all staring at her, back at ourselves and each other for one whole painstaking hour, while we sweat through our spandex and attempt burpies and mountain climbers, all while pretending we’re not in excruciating pain. What else is going through my mind (other than the pain), but noticing how pale I am compared to the rest of the bunch? Now I know why that girl referred to me once as “Snow White”. It was code for “honey, you sure are pasty!”. Oh, and yup, I can’t help but notice that my hips are larger than that 20 something chick at the front left, who’s killing it with every move. There’s no way not to notice that I’m not jumping as high or lunging as low as the entire front row. NO WAY. And, that, my friends, is deflating. Ugh. The ultimate comparison trap, indeed.
And, I fell in. Hard.
My joy was officially stolen.
I know that I’m not alone here.
In my “scientific” research for the book I’m writing (social media), I asked women on Facebook what they compare about themselves to other women. You name it – and we compare it. Our weight, our clothes, how we raise our children, how our husband treats us, our careers, spirituality, our sex appeal and our house cleaning/cooking capabilities. We compare everything from our families to our fingernails. But, we can’t fully put the blame on ourselves.
It’s a competitive world we live in. Everywhere we turn, we are encouraged to scrutinize each other. American Idol paved the way for this generation to master the art of picking people apart and comparing the intricacies of their looks, talent and personality with the “competition”. Popular celebrity gossip magazine “Us Weekly” regularly includes a “Who Wore it Best” page, featuring two women side by side, wearing the same outfit. Viewers are encouraged to vote “who wore it best”, and the writers analyze features from beads to bags, butts to boobs and everything in-between. Is there really ever a winner in these games?
Comparing ourselves with others not only is a losing battle, but it is downright sin. It pronounces us the judge (it’s not Simon Cowell’s job, and it’s not ours either). It produces a critical spirit and prevents us from growing into the women God created us to be . Comparison paves the way for self pity to parade all over us. It tills the ground for both pride and insecurity to grow.
[bctt tweet=”Comparing ourselves with others not only is a losing battle, but it is downright sin.” username=”DanielleMac80″]
These products of comparison are true bandits. Pride sneaks in the back door of your heart, when you over focus on yourself, and what you have more than others. It snatches up your humble heart. Insecurity barges right in the front door when you over focus on what you don’t have compared to others. It strips you of your confidence. Either way, you’ve been robbed, and in the blink of an eye, you’ve burgled yourself from a contented life. Even a queen was reduced to bitterness and misery when she asked “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
God doesn’t want us so over focused on others that we take our eyes off of Him. HE is the measuring stick who we must judge ourselves against, and He is never against us. He is always for us.
[bctt tweet=”God doesn’t want us so over focused on others that we take our eyes off of Him” username=”DanielleMac80″]
Comparison will not only royally suck the living joy and goodness out of you, but it will keep you from all the incredible things that God has in store just for you.
You may have heard of some folks called the Isrealites. They were famous for being cranky and hungry while stuck in a desert for waaaay too long. But, God told them they would make it out and into an abundant place. Caanan, the land that God had promised to them, had everything they dreamed of – a far cry from their current living conditions. They needed to get there, and fast! In order to take that land for themselves, conquering current inhabitants was required. A couple handfuls of men were sent to stake out the land and see what they were up against. What the scouters found was not good news. The place was teeming with what seemed like giants to them – healthy and strong men who lived in fortified towns, all while they had been reduced to eating a few fish and nibbles of bread while wandering in circles. A man named Joshua seemed confident that they could still succeed in their mission, but when he suggested to go “take the land”, he discovered that the others had already come to their own conclusions:
“They are stronger than we are…
Next to them, we felt like grasshoppers…
Let’s just turn around and go back into the desert.”
They did it too – just like me, they stacked themselves up to other people, and it deflated and defeated them. As soon as they decided that they didn’t measure up, they called it quits and were ready to walk away from all that God had planned for them. Their comparison conquered them before any giant could.
The Israelites too, fell into the comparison trap.
How about you? Have you let comparison keep you from your “Promised Land”?
Have you thrown in the towel, because next to her you just didn’t measure up?
What have you missed out on because you concluded you came up short?
Who are you wasting too much brain power on? What is distracting your gaze?
It is true – you may feel like a “grasshopper” next to others. Maybe she is prettier, smarter, more successful. Maybe she really does have it all together, and perhaps she is living the dream – and you are not.
Examine your life: are you spending too much time exploring, or “scouting out” the ladies who you believe are living in their “bountiful land”? The Israelites spent 40 days checking the Canannites out. And yes, what they did discover was that they were strong. BUT, that strength did not make the promise of the Lord null and void in the lives of the Israelites. In the desert, God led them – a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. He sent manna. He promised, and He provided. Most of all, He was leading them into something better than they’d ever experienced before. The Israelites were His chosen ones who saw miracle after miracle, and yet, in the face of people who they felt like tiny insects compared to, they completely threw in the towel.
There were two men who didn’t give up, though. One of them was Joshua. He was confident in the Lord’s capabilities, despite his shortcomings, so he chose to believe in God’s promises. And, I think I know why. Rewind back many many years to when Joshua spent time in the presence of the Lord. Exodus 33 tells us that each night Joshua stayed in the tent where the presence of God was…and he stayed quite a while. In that lingering is where Joshua learned who God was, and who He created Joshua to be. Joshua fixed his attention on God, and there his identity was formed. It was there that his confidence and his faith grew bigger than the Canaanites. In the face of the giants, Joshua knew who he was, and he was no grasshopper.
Lovely lady, you are God’s chosen one. Stop for a minute, breathe and let that sink in. He thinks you are the fairest of them all. Don’t let the mirror tell you anything else.
[bctt tweet=”God thinks you are the fairest of them all” username=”DanielleMac80″]
Another woman’s looks, abilities, book smarts, family upbringing, position… none of that will ever negate and nullify the person that God created you to be and the specific goals He’s planned for you. Do not look to the left or right. Stop peering over at others. Resist scoping out the competition. Don’t let the giants intimidate you or keep you from receiving what God has to give. Be a giant, living in your own Promised Land.
[bctt tweet=”Be a giant, living in your own Promised Land” username=”DanielleMac80″]
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future!” -Jeremiah 29:11 (emphasis, mine!)