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Comparison: Life's Kill-Joy

It's a beautiful morning, and not quite as hot outside as usual for August, for which I am very thankful! I've taken a bit of a break from writing because we just welcomed our sweet little boy into the world four months ago! Praise God for His goodness! He has been such a joy and a blessing in our lives, and I am loving watching him grow into the little man God so beautifully crafted.

Being a mom has definitely changed my world. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. As a woman, I find I have a tendency to compare myself to those around me.....a lot. As a mom, it's gotten worse. The constant unsolicited advice from people (some of them complete strangers) is quite shocking to me. As if raising a human being isn't hard enough, people feel the need to comment on and question your parenting choices, which makes you even more insecure and stressed. Additionally, you have the doctors telling you what percentile (a fancy word for comparisons) your child is in for height, weight, and head circumference. If you're child is in a low percentile, you feel like you're a failure and your baby isn't growing like he should be; if you're child is in a high percentile, you feel like your baby is unnaturally large; and if you're child is in the 50th percentile, you're wondering how the sweet bundle of joy in your life is just average. And, losing baby weight? Don't even get me started on how I compare myself to other women! You see, I have a difficult time seeing what I look like, so I look at others and think, "Oh, I think they look about my size. So, that's how people see me." I find myself constantly observing and comparing myself to other people simply to validate myself. Some of this warped thinking is normal to human nature - I'm not saying it's right, but it's normal. And, some of it is caused by the images and people we see on T.V., in movies and on social media. We are barraged on a daily basis of seemingly perfect women and moms who have it all together. You know the type I'm speaking of - successful in work, well-behaved and thriving children, philanthropic - and to top it all off, they're usually beautiful, thin and well-dressed. How can we compete with the false images to which we compare ourselves? We can't, and we shouldn't.

Our tendency to make comparisons stems from our own insecurities. We either put others down in an effort to make ourselves look better in our own minds (pride), or we elevate others above ourselves to confirm we are the failures we've always thought (reverse-pride). The former leaves us feeling judgmental, mean and guilty. And, the latter leaves us depressed, hopeless and stuck. Both are a focus on the self, and both are wrong. Philippians 2:3 says, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." We are called to love others as Christ loves us. How can we do this when we are always focusing on ourselves and picking out everyone else's flaws to make ourselves feel better? We need to fix our eyes on Jesus and not on those around us. Not only can we not fully love those God has called us to love, but we are robbing ourselves of joy and contentment. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and He does not make mistakes. Let's not insult our Creator by hating ourselves. We are His handiwork and He loves us. Of course, we aren't perfect. We don't have perfect bodies and we don't always make the right decisions when it comes to parenting or life, but we're human. If you're feeling truly inadequate in your child-rearing or career or whatever it may be, ask God for wisdom and guidance (James 1:5-6). I know He is faithful and will be found when you seek Him with your whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). If you need to lose weight, like myself, then make the right choices to accomplish that. Don't compare your body to another woman's body. We are all different and struggle with different "problem" areas. Be healthy and feel good about how you look, no matter what others around you look like. Let's stop tearing ourselves and one another down and choose to love and encourage one another instead. Be kind to others and yourself - don't rob yourself of the joy Christ freely gives.

I pray that God opens both yours and my eyes to see ourselves and love ourselves how He sees and loves us. I pray that God will send us people in our lives to encourage us, and I pray we will receive it and not toss it aside. And, when we feel ourselves starting to compare to others, I pray we stop in our tracks and pray, turning our focus back to God and to His Word. I encourage you to fill your mind and your heart with the truth of Scripture (Col. 3:16). There's a whole world that needs the love of Christ in their lives. Let's stop thinking of ourselves and show them God's love.

Truth Verses to Memorize When Thoughts of Comparison Come Creeping In:

Psalms 139:13-14 - "For 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."

Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;"

Philippians 4:8 - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

1 Thessalonians 5:11 - "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."


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