Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Matthew 6:22-23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
When I was little, I loved playing house. My friends and I would always daydream about what we would look like when we were older. We would pretend to look like our favorite actresses or singers. I always wished I would one day look like Tiffani Amber Thiessen from Saved By the Bell.
Comparison starts innocently enough. Girls are surrounded by images, subliminal messages, even dolls that define what a woman should look like in order to be considered "pretty" by the world and thus, happy and successful in life. From an early age, the emphasis, at least in my life, seemed to be placed more on what you looked like on the outside than who you were on the inside. Sayings like "Smile, it will increase your face value." or "If you pinch an inch, you need to lose weight." are still etched in my brain today.
I was the chubby kid for most of my childhood. I knew I was loved. I believed I was special. I didn't doubt that. But my size was always the topic of discussion especially when in comparison to my cousins who all seemed to be perfect. Long before I ever used a scale as a measurement of my worth, my weight was constantly tracked and recorded by my grandmother and her yellow measuring tape. Thus began my obsession with perfection.
I admittedly am a perfectionist and a control freak. I used to think perfectionism was a good quality to possess. Actually I was almost boastful about my perfectionism, but I have lived with it long enough now to know it can easily drain you of all joy if you aren't careful. My strive for perfection led to my body dysmorphia and an eating disorder. My attempt at perfection has also been a catalyst for my anxiety and panic attacks.
Perfectionism left me constantly comparing myself to everyone and everything. And around every corner was someone prettier, skinnier, smarter, funnier...you get the idea. Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, " Comparison is the thief of joy." I wholeheartedly agree with him. Comparison allows the enemy to come and rob us of any delight or contentment over what makes us unique and set apart from others.
Psalm 139:14 reminds us, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." But for years I lived ashamed of who I was. I lived in a constant state of "I will be happy when ____."
The only standard of comparison and what should be considered "better" is the full potential of Christ in us. Our goal is to be more like the image of God, thus our comparison must be with Him. When we strive to be like Him instead of another human being, we begin to get a much more realistic foundation for which to compare ourselves. Don't make your quest for a "better" you result in you missing God.
Galatians 6:4-5 says, "Don’t compare yourself with others. Just look at your own work to see if you have done anything to be proud of. You must each accept the responsibilities that are yours."
I would like to say I no longer struggle with comparing myself to others, but it just isn't true. Some days are harder than others especially when you live in a culture obsessed with picture perfect highlight reels. Some days I still look in the mirror and see that insecure little girl looking back at me, but I know that even on those hard days, God still loves me just as much. And I owe it to that little girl and to God to value what I see.
My greatest area of comparison and struggle is my journey compared to someone else's. Why God? Why does it seem to be so easy for them? Why do I seem to have to try harder and do more to accomplish the exact same things? Why do I always feel behind in this journey?
Acts 20:24 says, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."
It is on those days where I am tempted to hop out of my lane and start driving in someone else's, that I remember David. The young shepherd boy, whom God called a man after his own heart, was given armor to wear when he was going to fight Goliath. The armor was much too large for his small frame, but David didn't search for different armor so that he could replicate others who went out in battle. Instead, he chose to fight with merely a slingshot. I can only imagine what the others must have thought as he approached Goliath. But David's focus remained on the character of God and not the size of his opponent. God, who had helped David in the past, continued to help him as he faced Goliath. That same God is fighting for you and I today.
See when it comes down to it, comparison is really a question of who has our ultimate trust. Our doubts and insecurities cause us to question what we see in the natural in relation to what is unseen. We think because this person looks like this or their journey appears to be effortless, we must in comparison be flawed. But that just isn't true.
God tells us in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."
We need to remind ourselves of God's faithfulness. As we shift our focus from self to Him, the power comparison has over us is broken. More of Him, less of me. The fact is we are insufficient in our own abilities and strength, because God designed us to rely on Him. As we trade in our desire to be everything in our own strength, our confidence in turn grows. It is a confidence in who we are in Him. It is a confidence that we are a masterpiece in His eyes and He "fearfully and wonderfully made" us to be unique and different. He set us apart for a specific purpose and journey and has equipped us for driving in our lane. He numbered each hair on our heads and takes great pride in calling us His child.
Don't let comparisons continue to diminish and change you into someone you were never meant to be. Only the God that designed you has the authority to label you. And that label declares, "Child of God."
God, today help me to live into the person you created me to be. Help me to move forward in fearless pursuit of the unique calling you placed on my life. Help me to not diminish myself or others because Your ways may be beyond my ability to comprehend. Help me to trust You and Your ways. Help me to look to You as my source of joy, not what this world gives and then snatches back. I love You. Amen. <3