“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled with comparison!
Just the other day, I found an old picture of myself from middle school. I was standing next to a friend who I’d always thought was far skinnier and prettier than me, and you could see the lack of confidence all over my face. My heart sank when I looked at my tiny preteen self and saw the depth of my comparison syndrome and body dysmorphia. Comparison has always been the greatest thief of my joy, and body image is just one of the instigators.
My body image has rarely been positive, much less healthy. On a daily basis, I’m assaulted with airbrushed images of women who have a team of experts dedicated to maintaining their figures. My inner qualities get compared to others, too. My work ethic, popularity, wit, even my joy gets measured against those around me. Oftentimes, it feels like I can’t win. I don’t even know what the competition is for.
The key issue with comparing ourselves to others is simple: it steals contentment. As the scripture says above, God has created you with specific gifts. In 2018, comparison is often based on your newsfeed’s highlight reel, and it’s unfair to discount what God has given you in this season based on someone else’s snapshot. God has made you exactly who you are, with all that you do or don’t have, for a handcrafted purpose. Whether you can see it or not, you’re exactly where you need to be.
When we spend all our time comparing ourselves to one another, we can’t work together in love. Envy destroys harmony, and harmony is essential to the Church’s success. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in ministry is to just keep going. If I stop to focus on someone else’s popularity, success, or influence, I’ve crippled my faith and connection with Christ. This is also one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in marriage. I can’t compare my relationship to our friends’ relationships, because I don’t know what happens behind closed doors. When I envy someone else’s marriage, I can’t be the wife God made me to be. Instead of loving Tim to the best of my ability, I just get bitter and self-destructive. There’s truly no positive outcome from comparison. Even if you come out on top, you’re suffering at the hands of pride.
The best tool to conquer comparison is gratitude. I used to start each day by listing what I was thankful for, and it was crazy how the list grew over time. My circumstances didn’t change, but my perspective did. Can you identify sources of comparison in your life? What are some things you could be more thankful for? Make a list of what you’re grateful for every day for the next week, and let me know what happens. Share the gratefulness challenge with your friends, and tag @sustainedbytheking on Facebook or Instagram. I hope your love becomes more sincere, you cling to what is good, and you begin to honor others above yourself this week. I’ll see you Thursday!