I have heard this quote numerous times throughout my life and hadn’t really considered it until fairly recently. During a trip to Cuba, my husband preached a message about comparing ourselves with one another based on 2 Corinthians 10. It was such an eye-opening sermon. I realize now that this is an area of weakness for me.
I am competitive, goal-oriented and persistent. I tell myself that I have a realistic perception of my strengths and weaknesses (doesn’t everybody?). Basically, I want to be the best, and I know when I’m not. I find myself comparing Rachael to the kind of people who I am sure you would find amusing. Let me just give you some examples.
I am not funny and I know this. Yet, somehow I have this idea in the back of my head that buried somewhere deep down is a comedian, that I SHOULD be funny.I have a handful of friends who should be comedians by profession. On that rare occasion when I make any of those friends laugh, I am caught so off guard that I literally have to take a moment, rewind, and figure out WHAT IN THE WORLD JUST HAPPENED? I am no comedian, but there are times I want to be like those people who are.
I’ve been singing since I was old enough to carry a microphone and carry a tune. School concerts, college choirs, solos at church, camps, conferences, in my car, in my kitchen. You name it. I love it and I realize I have a decent voice. But let me assure you, I am my own worst critic. Instead of comparing myself to the worship leader down the road, I compare myself to Mariah Carey. Or Kari Jobe. Or any other professional out there who is better than me.
I frequently compare myself to those moms who get up at 5 a.m. just to prepare a hearty breakfast for their kids and have a 30 minute devotion before school. I compare myself to crafty mom, home-school mom, patient mom, mom of 5, athletic mom, chef mom, spiritual giant mom, birthday party mom… you name the type, at times I think I should be all of those moms wrapped into one package.
I have always enjoyed writing. I excelled in writing sociological papers in college, probably because my writing is so straight-forward and lacks flourish. Yet when I sit down with a Barbara Kingsolver book, I want to weep at my moron-self, incapable of painting a vivid picture with the most beautiful strand of words. When I read the poetic Sarah Bessey, I want to give up on blogging all together. When I read David Platt, I grieve that I can’t express my passion the way he does. Give up, I say.
My Dad wrote me a letter before he died. In it, he named a few women who are spiritual giants of the faith. He told me to be one of those women. I know his intentions were good, and I must say that his life and ministry lit a fire in me that has never died. Yet often I compare myself to these women… the women who travel the country speaking at conferences. I compare myself to the missionary you hear about who prayed and saw someone raised from the dead. I compare myself to the women who get up to pray and study every morning without fail.
I would love to report to you, dear reader, that I am above this type of comparison. While I have improved greatly, I still find myself looking in the mirror some days, unhappy with everything I see. Frizzy hair, freckles, 25 extra pounds, flat nose, crooked teeth, boring clothes. I see those women who weigh nothing running down the street in their workout clothes and kick myself for not having more discipline. I get on the scale, hoping to have lost just one more pound so I can look just a little more like the images that bombard my mind of the “perfect woman.”
Even now, writing all of this so honestly, so openly, saddens me greatly. I think Teddy Roosevelt was onto something. What possible chance do I have at joy when I compare myself to someone who IS NOT ME? After all, I can never be anyone other than the person God made me. Sure, I can grow, set goals and reach them, push myself, have more discipline… but at the end of the day I am Rachael. I’m pretty sure Rachael needs to shut up and stop listening to what Rachael says about Rachael. Rachael needs to start listening to what God says about her. What might that be? I love what David had to say about God’s view of him:
You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God. (From Psalms 139)
I am his creation. He delights in me. He saw enough value in me to pay the ultimate price…. just so I could know him. He calls me friend. He wants to walk with me, faults and all, in the cool of the day. He knows my name. He has the hairs on my head numbered. He loves me just as I am.
And who are these people I’m comparing myself to, anyway? Do I truly know any of them? I guarantee that if I got to know them, I would realize that each and every one of them has struggles and shortcomings just like I do. Do we realize that when we compare ourselves to someone, we are comparing ourselves to an idolized persona? We are comparing ourselves to the voice, not the human. We are comparing ourselves to the body, not that heart. We are comparing ourselves to the works, not the soul. We compare ourselves to some kind of facade. We are trying to become more like someone rather than becoming more of ourselves in Christ Jesus. He is the one we look to for the answers to who we are and who we are to become. I want to be wrapped up, tied up and tangled up in Jesus, joyfully drawing strength and self-worth from the fact that I am loved by the King.
Do you struggle with comparison? Does comparison rob you of your joy? In what areas of your life do you find yourself comparing? Please speak up so I know I’m not alone!