Comparison is the thief of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt
If there is one self-esteem lesson I wish all children could learn, it is that they are enough. I wish every girl and boy could believe they are worthy of love because they are a child of God. From a young age, my identity became wrapped up in being “the good kid” and “the smart kid”. I never got in trouble. My grades were always perfect. I accepted nothing less than an A, and usually an A+ at that! I avoided competition, but if a friend tried to out score me on a test or rival my first chair position in band, I would discretely throw down. (I may have been a tad passive aggressive . . . ) But my biggest problem was that my self-worth was wrapped up in my performance at school.
Comparison and competition secretly worked their grimy selves into the midst of my relationships and left seeds of discontent. I unjustly gained self-esteem from performing better than others. Though I believed myself a genuine person and valued genuine relationships above most things, I still found myself uncomfortable with anyone who rivaled my goals.
In high school, I compared my skin, hair, and the size of my thighs to others. Sometimes it made me feel attractive. At least I don’t look like that . . . Other times it left me listless and self-conscious.
Comparison is unfair to everyone involved. Either you come out of the comparison feeling superior or inferior. Neither is healthy.
I would love to say that I outgrew all of these tendencies. And, as far as my physical appearance goes, I have grown much more confident in the fact that my identity does not depend on my pant size. However, as an “adult” I do fight the temptation to compare my career successes, or lack thereof, to others. Too often I let my failures define me. Even in my blogging, I have fallen into the trap of comparison. It is so easy in a world of stats and quantifiable popularity through “likes” on Facebook.
Comparison is an enemy to contentment. How can we enjoy the blessings God gives us when we are so busy being jealous of others? How can I be the person God created me to be when I am so busy wishing I could be someone else?
Our homes, husbands, children, clothes, successes, ourselves will never be enough as long as we allow ourselves to measure our worthiness against others. Fortunately, true contentment can come only from God, never from comparison. Over the past couple months, God has repeatedly reminded me that contentment comes from living within his calling for my life. My calling may not look like yours. And that is ok.
I have been meditating on this quote from The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World:
Even more confusing, sometimes, is the reality that a path that would end up disastrous for you might in fact be God’s perfectly designed path for some other person. That is not relativism. It is the reality that God has a unique design and calling for every person He has lovingly created. As Paul’s letter to the Ephesians puts it, each of us were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (2:10).
It’s not about what God has called others to, but what He has called YOU to do.
What purpose has God called you to live out? Let us know in the comments below!
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