What I Gather About Comparison

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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.

Funny Rachael

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.

Singer Rachael

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.

Mom Rachael

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.

Writer Rachael

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.

Spiritual Rachael

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.

Physical Rachael

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.”

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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!

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Comments

  1. Ruth Howard says

    You are right on, Rachael! God made no two people alike, be what He made you to be. Excellence is wonderful, but excellence comparing yourself to what you were, not trying to outdo someone else. I know you know that, and said it in so many words. As far as your dad’s legacy, you are an honor to him. I thought no lawyer could be honest until your dad became one! Your mom and dad and my first husband and I were newlyweds at the same time in your Grandpa & Grandma Ball’s church… You are such a talented writer, Rachael–keep it up! You speak to the heart and soul.

    • Rachael says

      Thanks for the comment! And thanks for the encouragement! I love hearing from people who knew my dad in his earlier-than-me years!

  2. Tasha says

    I love this post. After reading this however, I caught myself comparing me to you about how much I compare myself to others, and that its probably more than you. :-) Then I laughed because this is exactly what you were talking about. I know why I compare myself to others, its from a life of feeling inadequate and not good enough. It’s been a process, but I have been trying to accept myself. Thank you for this wonderful post, you are not alone:-) you are you, and I am me,, and we are both awesome!

    • Rachael says

      Yay for being awesome! Isn’t it funny how we can see the best in those we love, but have such a hard time seeing the best in ourselves. I could easily name 25 good qualities about you, and would have to think hard to come up with 5 bad ones. Yet, with myself… I could easily do the opposite! Now I’m going to go compare how much I compare to how much you compared to my comparisons…

  3. belinda says

    wow. I dont think there is any one subject that has stolen more years or time from me than this. i think that this is the root of the other things I have commented on so far…at least for me. I feel that this is such a deep subject for me and one that God is working on me with.

    God showed me a few things that have been stuck in my heart for a while now as i try to work through so many deep seated issues. One big thing is that I have always felt like I was such an inadequate representative for Him. Looking on the outside, why would anyone want to act, dress or be like me as frumpy and so non-fashionable as i am when there are other women and mothers who do it so much better than i do. And the most frustrating part is that my efforts are not good enough. I remember the first time I actually verbalized this feeling out loud was after i saw pictures of myself from Karah’s dedication at FAC. Kenneth wanted to know why i was suddenly so upset and i said because i actually left the house that day thinking i had done something wonderful to myself and made me look decent with my hair and clothes and now seeing my best efforts were not good enough i feel hopeless. he asked why i felt like that and I named a couple women in church about my body type who i felt alway “had themselves together” and i just couldn’t be that way. He said it was just my perception and not reality. But my perception is my reality so it is hard to not buy into that.

    anyway, not that i have it licked by anymeans…i am still finding myself snapped back into this junk often but God spoke to me one day recently about aromas. He can work through and use anything and anyone. If we are smelling something wonderful we grab the container and remove the lid to smell more. we don’t usually care too much how the container looks at first. and if are put off by the the outside, the aroma that is pleasing takes over. He said I need to make it a priority to work more on His aroma eminating from my life while i work on my physical self. not perfect here but trying

    the other thing He showed me was several years ago but im holding onto it. the blanket of snares as you put it which can be a multitude of things, fear, depression, distraction, addictions etc…whatever a person has been dealing with is covering up the garden of our emotional and therefore spiritual life. It is stopping the growth of what is underneath from shooting up and gaining strength. He told me one day it would be gone and i will be allowed to see and experience what has been trying to grow underneath. all of the good things He wants for me to have in my life and in the garden.

    it has dawned on me since Ive been using your blog to clear out my skeletons haha that one might say, I never knew she was so messed up. How can someone live for God like that? Well I firmly believe that we are witnesses and examples of 2 different people..those we know are/or have been watching us, and those we have no idea are or were watching. We live as best we can following what we know to be the plan of salvation and then seek Him to help us live more abundantly and productively. but there will alwys be those who use emotional and physical baggage as an excuse to not live for Him and I do not want to be one who gives in because i cant get past something. i do not want to be a stumbling block to someone else. so i keep plugging along seeking Him and doing the best I can to not compare myself but it is hard. I see other moms, or women who seem to have it all together and why cant i?

    someone told me recently i was a perfectionist. i laughed at first then the more i thought about it the more i wondered if that could be my problem…if i cant clean my whole house perfectly then i put it off until i can which never happens…if i cant do the song perfectly then i beat myself up for not practicing more, if i cant make my mommy life perfect i dwell on the parts i cant control…so maybe i need to look at it from that perspective and stop trying to be something i will never achieve. even people who are perfectionists with most things have struggles in other areas we can see like you mentioned. anyway sorry for the rambling and my keyboard that sticks on the shift key i really do know to capitilize the proper i but thanks for such though provoking posts. it has helped me really focus on what im working on inside myfelf.

    • Rachael says

      Have I mentioned that I love your comments?? I love the thought about the aroma, that is really powerful. I feel the same way as you some days, like I’m letting the skeletons out of the closet about my struggles. But I believe that the truth not only makes me free, but can also help someone else to be free. Just knowing I’m not alone in some of my struggles has been so comforting to me. What matters is are we moving forward? Are we drawing closer to God as a result of our struggles and questions? I think it’s clear that you are!

      I can relate to the perfectionist thing, although I have come a long way. Now I am finding more joy in the process than I used to, and not just the end result. Please keep the comments coming! I love hearing your perspective!

  4. Kathy Turner says

    It does not always have a be a person we compare ourselves to – it can be that we compare ourselves to our own over-developed sense of perfection. That is called living in condemnation. Only God is perfect.

    • Rachael says

      That’s true and a really good point. I think many hold themselves up to a completely unrealistic expectation. I don’t want to do that, what a terrible way to live. Isn’t that what walking in grace is all about?

  5. Belinda says

    Kathy that is a good point…hadn’t thought of it like that. Maybe I have an unrealistic idea of how I should be from within my own mind and no one can be a critic if myself like I can. Makes me think.

  6. Kathy Turner says

    It is so liberating to hear from people who are not afraid to be transparent and share their struggles. The knowledge that others are facing similar issues somehow dilutes the power of the thing we are dealing with.

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