“…when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
2 Cor. 10:12
I’m somewhat of an expert at the fine art of comparing myself with others. It’s not something I planned to be good at, especially since the practice has the potential to cause more to damage in me than almost anything else. And I can’t even remember when I started, I’ve been doing it forever and a day. By the time I hit adolescence I could look someone over and in less than 30 seconds make a mental list of all the ways they were better than me.
In my twenties and thirties, I continued to practice the fine art. Everyone, it seemed, was better. Better mothers, a better wives, more talented, thinner, had better hair, better clothes, more creative, more outgoing, more organized, smarter…the list went on and on and on.
At some point in my forties though, I finally began to notice how comparing myself to someone else almost always pushed me into a spiral of self-hate. I was in no way motivated to do better, be better, look better. Instead I was quicker to give up, focus on everything about myself that I disliked and sink deep into that black hole called self pity. But there was good news too, after all these years, I was getting really tired of this cycle.
In an effort to stop the insanity I decided that every time I started to have hateful thoughts about myself I’d find something good to focus on. (I think I heard this advice from Oprah ) For me, it went something like this: Sitting on the beach watching every single female that crossed my path, my mind in panic mode because of how great everyone else looks in a bathing suit and OH MY GOSH, my legs really do look enormous– why am I even sitting out here- I’ve got to go put on some shorts…STOP…breathe…thank you Father that my legs serve me well. That I can walk and run without effort, that you’ve blessed me with good health…
That intentional focus on what was right about me was a start, but I was still comparing myself to others time and time again and I was still fighting a fierce battle to keep from berating myself. A few years ago, I believe God showed me the next step in letting go of the destructive habit of comparison. The Husband and I were on a date in a quiet restaurant, talking and laughing and enjoying ourselves. About half way through our dinner, a group of ladies were seated at the table next to us. Right away I noticed one of them. She was beautiful with long blonde hair and not one ounce of body fat. I braced for the battle I knew was coming and quickly scanned the others. Each one them was more beautiful than the next. In my mind they all had successful careers, happy children and perfect lives. As I sat there shrinking into myself, getting quiet and moody the strangest thought struck me…
Isn’t it just like God to give that pretty blonde lady good hair AND good skin? How wonderful.
What? Where did that come from? It was followed by another thought when I glanced at their table again…
And the woman sitting next to her has a perfect figure, and an eye for fashion, what a fun combination you created in her Father…
My heart felt lighter and the threat of a battle vanished into thin air.
I have such vivid memories of that night. I came home and wrote in my prayer journal, about what just might be the “prescription” for my destructive thoughts.
Now, years later, I can’t tell you that I never compare myself to others, because I do. But I will tell you that my go-to response is to thank God for the gifts He’s given me and to thank Him for the gifts He’s given the other person. Oh, and one more thing, these days after I thank God for the gifts He’s given the other person, I whisper a prayer for God to bless them with a relationship with Him.
Maybe I’m not an expert yet but I’m getting better at the fine art of thanking God for myself and others.
Any of you guys struggle with this?
Sending you love as always my friends