2 Corinthians 10:12 Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! (NLT)
Skinny bodies. Perfect hair. Huge homes. Fancy cars. Organized play dates. Prada shoes. Swimming pools. Country clubs. Expensive jewelry. Perfect marriages. Well behaved kids. Perfect moms. Submissive wives.
Preachers. Pastors. Reverends. Priests. CEOs. Executives. Professionals. Advanced careers. Eloquent speakers. Successful ministries. Godly bible study teachers.
Seemingly perfect lives. Seemingly perfect people.
Maybe you have fought a losing battle to try to measure up to these “role models”. And just maybe, you found yourself in the aftermath, with a heart full of insecurities and self-doubt.
When we compare ourselves to people, accomplishments or titles that we look up to, or wish that we were more like someone else in a certain way, or assume that someone we know has it all together and we don’t ….. the result is a chronic attack of “stinkin thinkin”.
A few years ago, my daughter who was 12 years old at the time, asked to be in a community beauty pageant. I have never been a big proponent of beauty pageants for several personal reasons, so my girls had never been involved with them. But after much begging and pleading, I caved in to the pressure, and signed off on the form for her to participate.
Although I was doing it against my better judgement, I hoped it would simply be a good time with her friends, a reason to get all fancied up, and maybe even a little morale booster – but I could not have been more wrong.
On the day of the pageant, my little girl was dressed in a royal blue tea length dress, with cascading ruffles down to the knees, a fitted waistline, and lots and lots of sequins.
She wore dainty, clear Cinderella slippers with shiny sparkles across the toes. Her beautiful golden hair that had been kissed by the sun, hung in bouncy locks down her back, looking much like something off of a Pantene commercial. Through my proud-mommy eyes, she was absolutely, stunningly beautiful. And I could tell by her demeanor, that she felt beautiful as well.
When we arrived at the auditorium an hour before the pageant, she hopped out of the car, flipping her hair back in an “I am all that” kind of way, and disappeared into the building, beaming with confidence and wearing a big smile as she waved goodbye.
I went inside and found a seat near the front. Yet, before the pageant could begin, I spotted her peeking out from behind the curtain.
Moments later, she began to slowly make her way across the aisles, with eyes fixated on me. I noticed that her glow of radiance and self worth had been replaced by a cloud of discouragement and sadness. As she got closer, I also noticed that the sparkle in her eye was no longer from the flashes of sequins, but from a few little tears that she was desperately trying not to shed.
Then she uttered the words that would forever break my heart.
“Mommy, all the girls are wearing full length gowns, and I am only wearing a tea length gown. And I look so ugly. I will never win.”
My heart broke into a million pieces. My first thought was, “bad, bad mommy! I should have bought her a better dress!” But my second thought was, that this was exactly why I did not want her in a pageant where she would be judged on looks alone. A competition based solely on the opinions of others, and where a person’s character and faith were unimportant.
I spent the next few minutes wiping her tears and trying to reassure her of how beautiful she was, inside and out. She regained her composure, and a sprinkle of confidence, and managed to find her sweet little smile again. But as she headed back to the stage, my spirit was convicted with God’s truth.
Psalm 139: 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
And most importantly, we discussed the dangers of comparing ourselves to others, and how our value, and our real beauty, comes from Christ alone.
She did not win a blue ribbon that day, but she won something much more important – a valuable lesson about self-worth and inner confidence that would stay in her heart for years to come.
Even as grown women, we often still feel like that timid, awkward, middle-school girl at a beauty pageant. We look around and make our own assessments of others, while holding ourselves up to measuring sticks that we were never meant to use. The end result, is that we determine we really don’t measure up to everyone else, just like my daughter did.
In fact, such a situation happened to me just this past weekend. I had traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to speak at the Iron Sharpens Iron Northeast Women’s Conference, and was so thrilled to be invited to be a part of such an awesome event. But as I sat in the lobby early on Saturday morning, waiting for my transportation to arrive, some of the other speakers for the conference began to congregate.
I was sitting in the hotel lobby minding my own business, reading over my notes for my speaking session, when a serious case of insecurity swept in out of nowhere. As I eyed these ladies from across the room, I found myself thinking how nice they looked, how pretty their hair was, how professional they seemed. I began wondering what sessions they were leading…. and if they would be better than mine….. if they were better speakers…. if they were more successful… and so on.
Before I knew it, the devil just swooped down and began pecking inferiorities right into my brain!
I was instantly convicted, and realized what I was doing – especially since the dangers of comparison was one of the main things that I was speaking about later that morning!
I had to chuckle at myself, then pray, and refocus on the message that God had given me to share that day. Had I remained focused on my insecurities and “stinkin thinkin”, the enemy’s tactics and lies would have distracted me from experiencing God’s best that day.
My little slip up is just a recent example of how quickly and easily we can get pulled into the comparison trap. Every day we are faced with the opportunity to compare ourselves to people at work, school, in our neighborhood or community, and even in our churches and other ministries. We assume they are better, smarter, and more capable, at everything, and that we have nothing of value to offer.
If we aren’t careful, that “stinkin thinkin” will become more than just an occasional twinge of jealously or lack of self worth, but eventually morph into a negative outlook about ourselves.
This faulty line of thinking causes us to fail to recognize and remember that we are a whole, complete and beautiful child of God. It causes us to forget that He formed us in the womb, exactly as we were supposed to be in every way.
Unique. Valued. Gifted. Usable. Precious. Beautiful.
Not perfect – but fearfully and wonderfully made – on purpose – for a reason.
We have a major enemy waging war against our souls every day. An enemy who loves nothing more than to make us feel worthless, inferior, lacking value and incapable of doing anything good for anybody, much less a sovereign and holy God.
It takes great faith and courage to admit that we are not perfect, but wonderfully made. It takes even greater faith to see ourselves and our value through the eyes of the One who created us, rather than the eyes that are looking back at us in the mirror every day.
Day Nine Challenge Activity: Stop playing the comparison game, and stop thinking that you do not measure up.
If you have been practicing the art of self condemnation, ask God to help you break the addiction of being down on yourself.
Pray for the supernatural ability to be able to see yourself through His eyes, and not what you see in the mirror. Ask Him for an acute awareness of when you are dabbling in the dangerous game of comparison, and to redirect your thoughts to positive things.
Consider making a list of all of your positive traits,attributes, talents and spiritual gifts. Allow God to guide your mind to all the reasons that make you wonderful.
Read over these verses and tuck them into your heart, letting them serve as reminders of how valuable you are to your heavenly Father.
Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
Luke 12:7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthews 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.