By Debbie McDaniel
When our neighbor’s home went up on the market recently, our family joked about watching and checking out all potential buyers as they came to look at the house. We had a vested interest in knowing who would be moving in; after all, we were living right across the street. So, a few days later I walked into the kitchen and there she was. My curious little 7-year-old girl was standing there looking out the window, with a pair of binoculars in her hands, staring at the perspective buyers who were there to see the house!
I said, "Gracie, what in the world are you doing??? Here, give me those so I can see better." Lol.
We laughed about it later, but this truth hit home. I was reminded of the other times in life when we find ourselves picking up those binoculars, or the microscopes, as we look ever so closely at one another. We examine, we stare, and we search really hard to find the imperfections. Somehow, we falsely believe that if we’re just able to see the weaknesses, the struggles, in someone else, we can somehow feel better about ourselves. And once in a while, clutched in our deepest insecurities, we might even secretly wish that someone else would fail.
It’s all such a trap. It will never make us feel better, but only fuel the fire for more jealousy and comparison to build. When the validation of ourselves and our own self-worth is based on another’s failures, or successes, we will never feel good enough. We are destined for a constant cycle of striving and defeat. It robs us of the right perspective and leaves us feeling empty.
Because here’s truth in that battlefield of comparison and over-evaluation. When we’re critical of others, it really says more about us, than them.
We often look for approval from everyone around us of whether or not we’re doing a good enough job. We even measure ourselves against other women, striving to feel better about the job we are doing.
We listen to the accusing lies that we know are not from God, but play over and over in our minds, “a good mom, a successful woman, would never do that, why can’t you get it together, why can’t you be more like…” We begin to swallow them down, accepting, believing it all to be truth, applying one big “fail” directly to self, feeling like we never quite measure up.
But what if we all chose to live differently?
What if we set down our binoculars and high powered lenses?
What if we let God be judge and we just chose to be friend?
What if we stopped criticizing and started speaking encouragement?
What if we brought our own mess and struggles to God instead of striving and trying to measure up or look better than someone else?
What if we spoke out words of blessing to others, instead of withholding them, out of our own feelings of jealousy or comparison?
That would be so very…
We hold much greater ability to influence this world for good, when we, as women, are willing to link arms with those around us. Instead of looking for the weaknesses, we can focus on accentuating the strengths. Instead of highlighting our differences, we can choose to find the common ground. We can make the choice, to spend our days supporting other women, and release the need to judge, over-evaluate, and tear down.
There will always be someone else doing “more,” doing “better.” Let it go.
Incessant comparisons with others around you will leave you feeling cheated, betrayed, and disillusioned. But choosing contentment and finding confidence in Him will foster joy. It will pour out to those around you, it will attract others, it will shine, because true beauty is best reflected in a heart that finds security first in God.
If you find yourself in the heat of this battle, 5 things may help:
1. Remember that life is not a competition. So you can throw away the score sheet. Rather than beating yourself up for not believing you are as good enough as someone else, choose to let go of the pressure to compete.
2. Make the choice to encourage. Do the opposite of what you are drawn to do when you compare. You may be tempted to stay silent. You may be tempted to speak negatively about someone else, out of your own insecurity or jealousy. Instead, tell that person the good you see. Chances are she needs to hear it just as much as you do. And quite possibly, you’ll have just made a new friend.
3. Choose to celebrate with others when they are successful. Sometimes when others do well, we seem to feel like we’ve somehow failed. Don’t fall for that trap. Just because another woman succeeds does not mean that you have failed.
4. Love God. Love others. Focus on His truth. Believe in His goodness for you. And for others. The closer we are to Him, the more we naturally show His love and care for others. Treat people as you would want to be treated.
5. Remember, we need each other in this life. God has designed us for connection, for relationships. Setting up boundaries towards others because of our own jealousy and comparisons, we leave us missing out on a huge blessing in life.
The heart of a woman is a beautiful place from which God can move greatly in this world. Good things come from the lives of those, whose hearts are fully devoted to Him. Positive, life-breathing influence.
Today I choose…to lay down the comparisons…to embrace my own state of imperfection…and breathe in His grace. That is freedom. That is joy. That is powerful.
Debbie McDaniel is a pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids and a few too many pets, dramatist and writer. She has a heart to communicate God's hope though the everyday moments of life - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ones that take your breath away. A lover of every sunrise, forever needy of His grace, this Texas girl finds joy in the simple gift of each new day. Debbie invites you to join her at www.freshdayahead.com, and Facebook and Twitter.