The Comparison Trap
"But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." 1 Corinthians 12:18–20 (NIV)
I'm pretty sure it started in middle school. I really didn't like who I was, but wanted everyone else to like me.
When I was in sixth grade we moved to a small town in North Carolina. During the first few weeks of school I got teased for my freckles, my fair skin and my weird accent.
Although I couldn't change how I looked or talked, I could change what I liked and how I acted. My strategy was simple. I compared myself to girls around me and tried to figure out who was liked most, so I could be like them.
Unfortunately it took me decades to break free from comparison. And I know I'm not alone. Whether we're adolescents, teens or grown women our tendency to compare is universal.
My friend Genia once described the trap we fall into. She said, "Every time we compare ourselves with someone else, we can never measure up because we're comparing our insides with their outsides."
It's exactly what I'd been doing. Comparing how I felt inadequate on the inside with how others looked like they had it all together on the outside.
The sad thing is comparison makes us compete with each other. Yet God never intended for us to compete with each other; He wants us to complete one another — encouraging each other's strengths while discovering and embracing who He created us to be.
Paul explains why in 1 Corinthians 12:18-20: "But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."
The only way we'll break free from the comparison trap is by embracing who we are instead of trying to be who we are not.
So how do we start? First, trust that God made you just as He wanted you to be, and then be the best YOU. Discover and offer the unique personality traits, abilities and gifts God gave you to impact those around you.
For instance, your personality is your natural way of doing things and relating to others. You have strengths and "relational challenges" God intentionally wove together when He was making you.
God made some of us people-oriented and sensitive to others' feelings, while some of us are more task-oriented and lower on empathy. He created those who love to talk and live life on the fly, while others love to listen and schedule plans in advance.
All of us are different and bring something valuable to our circumstances and relationships.
We also have natural abilities, but often self-doubt shapes our excuses: "I don't have any talent. I have nothing special to offer." Well, do you like to cook? Prepare meals for shut-ins. Good with crafts? Serve at a community center. Have accounting abilities? You could assist a neighbor having problems balancing her checkbook.
No matter how big or small your abilities seem, they're God-given and can be used for His purposes.
Unlike abilities given at natural birth, our spiritual gifts come at spiritual birth. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills our souls and we are given spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are varied and many, each thoughtfully chosen by God to help us fulfill His plans for our lives.
It wasn't until I was in my thirties, feeling miserable, that I realized I was still stuck in the comparison trap: serving where I was needed, but not where I was gifted; trying to find my purpose, yet confused because I didn't know who I was.
By identifying and embracing my unique personality traits, abilities, and gifts, I found freedom from the comparison trap. And you can too!
Let's be women who no longer compare and compete, but celebrate and complete our friendships, churches, workplaces and homes with the unique offering we bring. You'll love the freedom and confidence that comes when you become the woman God created you to be!
Dear Lord, thank You that I'm Your masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus so I can do good things You planned for me long ago. I want to stop comparing myself with others so I can become who You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
"Every time we compare ourselves with someone else, we can never measure up because we're comparing our insides with their outsides."
Does comparison keep you from living confidently as the woman God created you to be?
Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV 1984)