As I walked out of my hotel room that day, I remember feeling satisfied with my appearance. I had chosen a comfortable, but stylish outfit that seemed fitting for the occasion and flattering on me. I had taken a little extra time with my makeup and gotten every hair in place before lightly spraying it. And a new necklace and earrings felt like icing on the cake. I smiled at the woman in the mirror. She looked pretty good…and definitely ready for the challenges ahead!
But I don’t think I made it past the elevator before I began to second guess myself.
My eyes were drawn to the vibrant colors and bold jewelry adorning one woman. She looked stunning. I felt simple.
Then I saw a woman who appeared to be my age, but she wore clothes with a hipper, younger vibe. She looked casual and confident. I felt conspicuously common.
As I made my way to the meeting room I saw women in free-flowing kimono wraps, large dangling earrings, tiny but tall wedge sandals and size 0 leggings. They looked adorable and assured. I felt awkward.
By the time I entered the conference room I no longer felt satisfied with how I looked. Instead, I felt dowdy and unnoticeable. In fact, I wanted to go unnoticed.
The Problem with Comparison
Looking back to that day at a writers’ and speakers’ conference I attended several years ago, I realize there was nothing wrong with what I wore. I had selected an outfit that looked good on me and that made me feel good about myself. But once I began looking around at other women and comparing, I lost touch with that reality.
That’s what happens when I compare myself to other people…in any way.
Regardless of what I’m comparing…
- family situation
- vacation plans
- fitness level
- you name it
I will lose in the end. In fact, we all lose when I compare.
Comparing myself to another person implies that I need to measure myself by them. I’m gauging how I stack up. I’m determining a winner and a loser. And if my insecurities are flaring up, I’ll probably lose quickly. That day as I made my way from my hotel room to the meeting room, I was nervous about interacting with new people, pitching a book to a publisher and meeting with a prospective agent. So when my insecurities collided with a few well dressed women, I immediately assumed I had dressed poorly. I determined that they looked better than me and even were somehow smarter, more successful, wittier, happier and just plain better than me. I made a lot of assumptions based on clothing choices and hairstyles, huh?
Why I Won’t Win with Comparison
Comparison feeds my insecurities. When I compare myself to others, I’m usually trying to dig myself out of an insecure place. I look around at others because I hope to affirm that I’m doing it right, I’m in line, I’m matching up.
But comparison, regardless of the motive, never results in me really feeling better about myself. Instead, comparison keeps pulling out its measuring tape until I find someone (then another and another) who’s seemingly out of my league. And I slink away with my tail between my legs, no longer courageous and confident enough to do what I was created and called to do.
Isn’t that just the cutest photo my friend Meme took? But this is ugly stuff. And I hate to even confess that I
did do this. But my bet is you have, too. Not that I’m comparing or anything. 🙂
It’s Time to Stop
Look, it’s time for me to stop falling into the comparison trap. So I’ve spent some time praying about this and looking through God’s Word to see what He has to say about it. And I’d like to share what I’ve been learning with you. So I have a few more blog posts coming on this topic. But for today I’d simply like for us to agree that comparison is a trap…and we need to get out of its grip.
Let’s agree that comparison is a tool of the enemy of our soul. He uses it to crush our confidence and call into question our calling. He convinces us to compare ourselves to other people so we’ll take our eyes off Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and put our focus on other runners in this non-competitive race. And he sucks us into this trap so that we won’t run with endurance the race set before us, but we’ll merge into other people’s lanes instead, sometimes tripping them up in the process and making fools of ourselves to boot!
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
If you’ve fed your insecurities, sabotaged your own holy confidence and cheapened your calling by getting caught up in the comparison trap, I invite you to pray this prayer with me today.
Lord, you know how I struggle with comparing myself to other people. Sure, I don’t do it all the time. But when I’m feeling a little insecure or unsure of myself I tend to check out what others are doing to see if I’m measuring up. The problem is that other people are not an accurate measuring tape for my life. And when I look around and compare I eventually come up short. And then there’s also the times I measure myself against others and end up feeling prideful and arrogant.
Please forgive me for taking my eyes off of Jesus and looking around instead. Help me to break out of the comparison trap. I know it’s not Your best for me, and I know it is a defeating tactic of the enemy. Please make me aware of the instances when I compare myself to others. Don’t let me get by with it. Convict me and guide me out of this trap. And help me to remember that You have beautiful and perfect plans for my life that are unique and suited to me. I will choose to rejoice in what You are doing in my life and to believe that I am loved, chosen, redeemed and set apart by You for Your purposes. In the name of the One who died for me, Amen.
If you’d like to share with me confidentially about your problem with comparing, you can contact me here. I’d be glad to pray for you as you work to get out of this trap.