Did you know I worked at Talbots for about a year? Yep. On a whim one day I just filled out the application and turned it in. Never mind that the closest Talbots store was about 90 miles from my house. For about a year I drove over an hour across the desert to work a few five-hour shifts each week.I did it for a paycheck, but that was quickly eaten up with my fuel bill. So I grew to enjoy my job for another reason: It gave me an opportunity to help other women.
I’m not sure what it is now, but at least while I worked there from 2014-2015, Talbots’ purpose statement was simple but meaningful: We help her look and feel her best. That purpose statement immediately resonated with me. It clarified my job beautifully. I wasn’t there just to clean out fitting rooms, rehang merchandise or ring up sales on a register. Nope. It wasn’t about the carpeted space in which I worked, and it wasn’t even about pleasing my supervisor. It also wasn’t about me. My purpose during my five hour shifts at Talbots was to help her.
A few months ago I decided I needed a purpose statement that embodied my own personal ministry. And I knew my own ministry statement should be kissing cousins to Talbots’ purpose statement.
I help her follow Jesus on the narrow path.
Besides the fact that I’m all about Jesus and I’m all over this path thing, I desperately need the focus this mission statement gives me.
I…help…her. It’s not about me. It’s about her.
Another Way Out of the Comparison Trap
A couple of blog posts ago I introduced the dilemma of getting out of the comparison trap. And in my last post I offered one of several solutions: Instead of comparing, concentrate. Today, I have another suggestion.
Instead of comparing, come alongside.
Comparison creates in me a competitive spirit. When I pull out the measuring tape of comparison I assume that the other person will either measure up to be better than me or worse, further along than me or not, happier or more miserable, more talented or less, richer or poorer, fatter or skinnier. One of us will win, and one of us will lose.
Unfortunately, that competitive attitude disregards the truth: Her success is not automatically a loss for me. She is not my competition. I can succeed, and she can succeed. In fact, if I am in her corner, her success is a shared victory. If I come alongside her, I share her joy…or her pain.
Comparison breeds competition. But coming alongside nurtures companionship.
When I compare myself to the woman who just got a job promotion like the one I was hoping for, I feel short-changed and left behind. But when I come alongside and celebrate with her, I feel connected to her joy.
When I compare myself to the woman whose child just failed calculus, I might feel a sick sense of superiority because at least my child earned a C. But when I come alongside her and express compassion for her disappointment and hurt, I connect to her as a fellow mom.
How Can I Come Alongside?
When I worked at Talbot’s my purpose was to “help her look and feel her best.” That meant coming alongside my customer to help her find clothes to suit a particular event, to fit her frame and to please her sense of style. I came alongside my customer as she looked for clothing, gathered it in a fitting room, tried it on and selected her purchase.
In life I can “help her be and do her best.” I can come alongside other women by befriending them, asking genuine questions, listening intently to their stories, honoring their concerns and challenges and praying for them. Paul, in the book of Romans, encourages me to come alongside my sisters in Christ through celebration and compassion. He wrote,
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
Honestly, showing such compassion when tempted with comparison takes discipline packaged in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I will not do this on my own. When I’m walking in the flesh, I will compare every time. But when I am walking in the Spirit and yielding to His prompting and empowerment, I will choose to congratulate her accomplishments and celebrate her blessings instead of comparing and contrasting. I will come alongside her as He comes alongside me.
Are you struggling to escape the comparison trap? Pray with me.
Lord, I’d rather develop companions for the journey than competitors. Nurture in me a desire to help the women in my life to be all they can be instead of sizing myself up against them. Your Word tells me to rejoice with those who are rejoicing over successes and blessings. I don’t want to resent it when other women have good news. I want to join in the celebration. Your Word also tells me to weep with those who weep. But sometimes I secretly relish in other people’s bad news. I’m so sorry for this lousy attitude. Help me instead to come alongside those who weep with compassion and concern. I can only do this by the power of Your Holy Spirit, but I know you will grow me in this area. Amen.