Note: This week, I will be sharing stories of my emotional journey. I think we often misunderstand or neglect emotional health. God has been working on this in my life. All of these are intended to tell what happened to me, not to tell you what to do. They are anecdotes NOT advice. You have your own journey and have to do your own research. Feel free to share your stories in the comments or in an email. I would love to read them!
One of the dangers of sharing stories like I am doing this month is comparison. Sadly, it seems like we women hear another woman’s story and immediately compare it to our own. This results in one of two reactions:
1. I’m glad I don’t have that problem. I would/could never do that!
2. She has it so good. I wish I would/could do that!
Neither response is healthy. God has made each of us special and unique. There are no copies. That means that comparing ourselves to each other, in a positive or negative way, is a completely futile exercise.
I don’t think anyone, especially women trying to balance so many different things, is going to conquer comparison once and for all. However, here are a few things that just may help us to remember we are unique and to put the comparisons away.
1. God never shames or labels a person. He always sees us as great possibilities.
If you are hearing the words, “You are _________.” with a negative word in the blank, you can be assured that those words are not coming from God. God loves us and sees what He wants us to be when He looks at us and helps us get there if we let Him.
Yes, sin and faults might get in the way. He loves us too much to leave us in sin or to let us continue in our faults. He will gently show us things we are doing wrong so we can correct them. However, He never labels us.
He has changed the behavior of the most hardened of sinners. They are no longer defined by their behavior because they have new behaviors. You and I are not a lost cause!
2. Do our part to end comparisons and squelch gossip.
Gossip is always wrong and harmful. It hurts the person being discussed and it hurts the God Who created her. But it also hurts the other two involved, the one telling the hurtful information and the one hearing it.
The one passing on the information is doing so from a heart not motivated by love but of self-serving. And anyone serving herself is a miserable person. Self is the most disappointing idol to worship.
However, if you have been the recipient of someone’s gossip, you know that it makes you doubt that person and yourself. “Oh, if she thinks that of her home, what must she think of mine!” She is not someone you will want to be close to in the future because she is not to be trusted.
Gossip is just a relationship killer. If you are tempted to say something negative about someone else, please stop! If someone says something negative about someone to you, don’t listen! And, if you are the one being discussed, take it to God and don’t add fuel to the fire by beginning a new gossip chain.
3. Instead of making rivals of other women, make them our allies.
The next time you are tempted to look at another woman and bemoan the fact that she is in perfect physical shape and you are not, stop! Don’t compete with her. Make her your ally, and get her advice on how you can become a healthier person. If someone has a lovely, well-kept home, ask her for tips on how to efficiently care for yours.
Always remember, though, that God has different priorities for some women and he gives special gifts to some to help them with the work He wants them to do. Seek to do your best, but copying everyone who seems “perfect” will be an exhausting and unnecessary enterprise.
4. Recognize the real definition of humility.
I once heard a preacher say something that stuck with me,
“Humility is not thinking badly of yourself. Humility is not thinking highly of yourself. Humility is not thinking of yourself at all.”
So much of the time we worry about how we look to others and how well we’re doing, etc. In the process, we think we are being humble because we don’t think highly of ourselves. However, we are missing the true heart of humility. Being humble is always looking out for the other person. How can I bless her today? How can I serve him today? How can I be Jesus’ hands to them?
5. Prioritize the love in our lives.
After that last point, I can hear you saying, “But what about my needs? Am I supposed to just neglect myself in the pursuit of helping others?”
Jesus told us the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord with all thy heart and they neighbor as thyself.” The presupposes that you have love for yourself in proper perspective. Jesus was the highest Example of love for others. However, He took time to care for His physical needs, relationship with God and others and His emotional needs.
First, establish a good relationship with yourself. Steward your body, your mind and your spirit. But then, move on to the work of pouring yourself out in love for your Father in Heaven and your fellow man.
Together, we can stop the comparisons! Are you with me?