Can you imagine what your life would be like if you could look at another person’s accomplishments and strengths without seeing your own flaws instead?
That blows my mind. I am twenty years old, and I have never been able to look at someone else’s life without thinking of my own shortcomings.
One of my best friends at college got engaged over Christmas break. It’s not an uncommon occurrence at my school. However, I am single. Nowhere near marriage or even engagement. As happy as I am for my friend, I couldn’t help but think of myself. Why can’t I be in that place in life?
My roommate is perfect. Blonde hair, blue eyes, cute clothes, beautiful makeup, a youth intern at her church, and she has a Godly boyfriend who adores her. I often refer to her as a princess (not in a bad way). Someone who has her life together. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my room watching Netflix about 90% of the time, procrastinating, overthinking, and eating too many snacks.
I’m currently sitting in one of my classes wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and snow boots (it’s not even snowing). I can’t stop looking at the other people in the room with cute clothes, nice hair, and a much more pleasant resting face, wishing that I had put a little more effort into my appearance today.
Don’t even get me started on Instagram accounts. Talk about people with perfect lives, right?
A spirit of comparison has sneakily and gradually crept into my life and has remained a constant for years. It makes me insecure, anxious, distracted, and sad. It takes so much from my life. A date night, a girls day, a trip to Target, or even a night of studying are all ruined as soon as I see someone who I think has more going for them than I have going for me.
Comparison is my joy-killer.
I know, I’m pathetic, and probably over-dramatic. But I guarantee you, I’m not the only one that feels this way.
Comparison is one of the devil’s most powerful tools against women. He knows exactly how to knock us down and where to kick us so that we stay down. He hates us. He hates God. He hates what God has made us to be. See, the devil used to have what we have. He used to have God. He used to be in high standing with God, actually. And he hates that God has made us His daughters while he burns in hell.
And now that he has lost everything, all he can do is try to keep us from the very Person he lost. Comparison isn’t just a way to distract us. It’s how he tears us down. It’s how he picks us off one by one. It’s how he turns us against each other, when we were never meant to wage war against our sisters.
Think about it.
Do you really think that God ever meant for you to grow to resent your best friend because she got a boyfriend? Do you really think it was God’s idea for you to hate that your roommate gets better grades than you? Do you really think that God wanted you to avoid friendships with Godly women just because you think they’re prettier than you or more “put-together” than you or even too Godly for you?
God meant for our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ to build us up and to build them up. He meant for us to have, as my mom likes to say, “iron sharpens iron friends.” If we constantly compare ourselves to others, it is impossible to be that kind of friend. How are we supposed to build each other up when the strengths we are supposed to build on are the same strengths that we hate in each other?
I’ll give you a hint. We can’t.
God has another plan. Remember Whitney’s blog post about the flesh and the spirit?
1 Corinthians 3:3 says, “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
Ouch. He got you there. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a spirit of comparison to be the thing keeping me from fully enjoying the Spirit of God. I’m not saying it’s not a struggle. Like I said, I’m sitting in class wishing I had worn different shoes (the girl in front of me is wearing some cute boots). It’s a struggle. But it doesn’t have to steal your joy.
Here’s the beauty that God shows us in our battle against comparison. We have nothing to brag about. Why? Because the girl who has her life together, the guy who excels at every sport, the perfect parents, the favorite child, none of them can even come close to comparing to the One we should all be striving to become like. So why do we feel the need to put all these imperfect people on a pedestal when we already have the perfect example of how to live our life?
So knock the devil off his feet.
Stop asking, “Why can’t I be like her?”
Fall to your knees in prayer.
Lord, what can I learn from this person’s life so that I can be more like You?
How can I encourage my friends in their walk with You?
How can I become more like You in this and every other area of my life?
Maybe you learn small things from the people you used to compare yourself to. Maybe the girl with good grades can help you learn to be a better steward of your time. Maybe the girl who has a lot of friends will teach you how to be a better listener.
Or maybe it’s bigger than that. Maybe the woman at church who you shy away from because you’re afraid she’s “too Godly” will show you that even the most faithful Christians can have overwhelming struggles. Maybe she’ll show you how the true family of God can be a comfort, instead of something to fear.
Whoever or whatever it is, ask God to help you learn. Stop letting comparison steal your joy because God is the One who validates you. Humans have no such power. He appointed your brothers and sisters in Christ to help you, to teach you, to build you up, but not to validate you and definitely not to be used by the devil to tear you down.
Use the devil’s tool of destruction against him and show him that he has no control over the gift of joy that God has given you.
After all, no one, not even your own destructive comparisons, can ever take away the love that God has for you. And that is something we all have in common.
Author & Editor: Rebekah Pendergrast
Photography: Eryka Randolph
Great advice! It was very touching and I can tell you’re beautiful inside and out!
I’ve found that one of the best ways to overcome comparison is to explore new hobbies and activities, eventually finding the things that make you uniquely you! When I was in university, I often found myself comparing myself to others, but honestly it’s because we were all doing more or less the same thing! Over the years, I’ve picked up plenty of hobbies – playing ukulele, yoga, hiking – and eventually my biggest passion, travel. I think that as we grow to find out unique stregths, we become more comfortable within our own skin.
I have always said that comparison is the thief of joy!! I’m currently wearinfg huge snow boots, no makeup and a ton of dry shampoo!!! ?
Oh my gosh this was amazing! I literally just wrote a blog post today about comparisons too! You did such a great job sharing your heart on this post. 🙂