In the world of magazines, reality tv, and the internet, beautiful people are thrown at us like rocks. From actors to bloggers to instagrammers, we have so many “ideals” to live up to. We compare our broken pieces to other people’s photoshopped lives and wonder how they can be so perfect. How are they always in Paris? How is their breakfast always that aesthetically pleasing? How are their kids so beautiful and well-behaved? How is their relationship so perfect? We compare ourselves to something that is impossible to attain, because it isn’t even actually real. Our whole selves will never be able to win against the highlight reel of other people’s lives, because the highlight reel is just that. The highlights.
Lately I’ve caught myself comparing myself to a lot of things on the internet. Why isn’t my body six feet tall and stick thin? Why is my skin covered in blemishes and theirs isn’t? Why isn’t my instagram as pretty as theirs? Why isn’t my blog doing as well as theirs? Why isn’t my relationship as cute as theirs? Why isn’t my health as good as theirs? And then the thoughts creep in saying I’m not good enough and I need to be more. But friends, I am comparing my body to an ideal image that is completely and literally unattainable for a lot of people. I’m comparing their beauty to my beauty and telling God that He messed up, I’d like to look like her, please. I’m comparing my just-woke-up bangs sticking up in all directions to airbrushed photos of people who’ve had hair and makeup worked on for hours before the picture was taken. I’m comparing my gifts to other people’s gifts, and when I do that, I’m not able to fully be where I am and use my gifts as well as I can.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and I couldn’t agree more. Comparison is a thief. It’s not only a thief of joy, but the thief of contentment, the thief of beauty, the thief of confidence, and the thief of individuality. When you compare yourself to someone else, you are comparing apples to oranges. You are different. You will not be the same as the girl down the hall. You will never be the same as the girl down the hall. But what you can be absolutely sure of is that when you are comparing yourself to something you will never be, you are robbing the world of something it needs. You are absolutely essential to this world. If that weren’t true, you would not be here. The Bible says in “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14) You are not an accident. You are purposeful. You are designed to be exactly who you are to bring glory to the Lord. And you cannot do that while you are wondering why you are the way that you are.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Something else about comparison is the fact that a lot of the time, at least for me, I compare myself to other’s because my goal is to impress other people. I am not telling God, “Oh, if only I were more like her, that way I could glorify you more…” Because I know that God has given me exactly what I have in order to glorify Him with it. God didn’t accidentally give me the ability to sing and forget to give me a better immune system. God didn’t flippantly decide that I would be really sensitive and emotional. He didn’t absentmindedly give me the body that I have or the brain that I have. Every single thing about me is purposeful. That’s not to say that I should not better myself and keep myself healthy, but for me to wish I was six feet tall instead of 5’3” is foolish and selfish and completely of my own will. I think it’s really important to ask ourselves when we are comparing ourselves to others what our motivations are. I sincerely believe that most of the time, at least for me, it is because we are trying to please man and not God.
But if not, He is still good.
I will say, though, that there are times I have wished away things because of the fact that I feel like I would glorify God more if I were different. For example, I have been pretty much perpetually sick for the past five months. I’m not kidding, I will finish a round of antibiotics and then five days later be diagnosed with something else, do a round of antibiotics, and then start over. Earlier today I was diagnosed with the flu (for the second time in a month L-O-FREAKING-L) I’ve also struggled a lot with anxiety during the semester. And yeah, I’ve screamed at God a couple of times. I’ve wondered why my roommates manage to stay healthy and I’m over here hesitant to plan a beach trip two months out because I’m worried I will be too sick to go. Why? If I were well, I could serve God better. I’ve had to stay home from volunteer opportunities because of this… I’ve had to miss out on spending time with friends… If it were up to me, I would really like to be healed. But God doesn’t work that way. Yes, I have prayed and prayed for healing, and yes, I sincerely believe that I can be healed of this in a miraculous, supernatural way. But if not, He is still good. If I am sick for the rest of my life, He is still good. And that, my friends, is what it comes down to.
This is the most rambly post I’ve ever written, but I want to share my heart with you because maybe you need to know it. I have been dealing with a sin struggle recently. I am not past it, it is happening as we speak in my life. Yes, I am working through it and God is healing me, but I am in no way past it. I feel like often times we don’t like to bring up struggles in our lives until we can say it in the past tense. But last night at my accountability group one of my dear friends was vulnerable and told us what she was currently dealing with. Not what she had overcome, but what she was in the midst of. This gave me courage to share what I was dealing with. And that gave another girl courage to share with me one of her current struggles that happened to be the same as mine. And that all started because my sweet friend decided to open up and be real about where she was. I tell you this to say you do not have to be over it for God to work through it. God will not be held back by our insecurities or bound by our walls. He is moving, and He will move. You are where you are for a reason, and every mistake you’ve ever made will be used for the glory of God. Whether you’re past it or whether you’re in it.
So here I am, sneezing on my computer screen and debating whether or not I should go to my mission trip meeting and risk giving other people the flu. But I am sitting here with a supernatural peace that can only be given by the Lord, because I have complete confidence that He will be glorified anyway. Whatever it is you are going through, yeah, it probably sucks and I am not belittling that in the least. I know what it feels like to hurt. But I just want you all to know that you are absolutely essential to this planet. You are here to be used exactly where you are at. You do not have to wait to be healed in order to be a light in people’s lives. You do not have to pick yourself back up in order for God to be glorified. God is moving through your struggles and your trials. He is making all things new and bringing beauty from ashes. You are so loved, you are so valuable, and you are absolutely essential. Comparison really is the thief of joy. You do not have to hide, you do not have to pretend. Be who you are, because you’re the only you this world will ever see.