My husband’s friend has this sister. For the purpose of this post I’m going to call her Shiesha. I can tell you right now Papa was having a good day when he created Shiesha. She is 6 feet tall. She has legs which stretch to the heavens and tanned golden skin. Her hair is blonde, thick, long and luscious. She has the features of a supermodel complete with high cheekbones, full luscious lips and a peaches and cream complexion unmarked by even the smallest of blemishes.
Shiesha dresses with electric fashion that complements her perfect figure. Everywhere we go, people stare. I kid you not. Boys and girls alike, the elderly folk, even children will be mesmerised by her beauty.
I became painfully aware that I am barely five foot tall and have buds instead of breasts.
Hanging around Shiesha, I became painfully aware that I am barely five foot tall and have buds instead of breasts. My cheeks are terribly round. My birth mark all of sudden felt like it covered my entire face. My legs felt painfully short and regardless of how much lip gloss I applied, my lips failed to pout like hers. Around Shiesha even my favourite outfit felt like an oversized frock from the Salvation Army.
I wasn’t the only one. Other girls, it seemed, were also intimidated and threatened by Shiesha. This would manifest in forms of shyness, avoidance and gossip, to downright rudeness towards her. In hindsight it was rare that a girl was secure enough within herself to truly love Shiesha.
This was over a decade ago. I was barely 20. I could blame it on immaturity. Something that we as girls stop as we grow and mature. However at the ripe age of 30, I would argue from experience that I think we get worse, not better. In fact, unless we take drastic action, we run the risk of comparing ourselves to one another through every stage in our lives. The difference is as we get older we are better at hiding it and it manifests in other ways. Comparison rears its ugly head in a vast array of social circles. From the socially elite high achieving world of doctors, among business owners and worst of all in the church, the very bride of Christ.
What is particularly alarming is the way in which comparison seems to really be rampant in us as women. Especially high achieving Christian women! We are not exempt. We compare ourselves physically, in our occupation, in the way we rear and raise our children, in our incomes, in our “ministry” and in our relationship with God. However, comparison makes us self-conscious and insecure. It prevents intimate relationships. It stops us from exhorting and encouraging one another. It makes gossip dangerously easy and celebrating each other’s success surprisingly hard.
I was the worst offender.
I have not been exempt from this let me assure you! In fact I think at times I was the worst offender. I have experienced this in every area I have worked and been in. When I worked as I Doctor, I was constantly surrounded by the most intelligent, high achieving people.
Surrounded by excellence I would often feel inadequate rather than inspired.
I would exhaust myself to try and match my colleagues. It didn’t just end with work. It also extended into my spiritual life. Being the wife of one of the most incredible preachers in the world, Mark Greenwood, I used to compare myself to His powerful call to the church. I would see my own destiny as inadequate as it was not within the church. Moreover I would compare myself to other Pastor’s wives who, unlike me, were also called to the church and living powerful lives of church centred ministry. Watching them would make me inward and self-conscious. I would question my own calling. I would feel less “Godly.” I felt I lacked significance. I felt I lived in the shadow of my husband’s mantle. This would make me unable to be transparent and real around many powerful church female leaders.
Why does it matter?
I’m being ridiculously vulnerable. I know I am. Why? I see it now for what it is now and I want to call it out. COMPARISON.
It has the power to destroy friendships. It stops transparency with one another. It breeds gossip and division. It produces illegitimate offense with one another. It promotes fakism (is that even a word?) in and out of the church. It stops us from climbing to the heights of our created value.
I have learned a powerful lesson. I am actually created and crafted exactly the way I am. My features, my body, my character, my emotions, even the thickness of the hair under my armpits was crafted by my Creator.
I am embracing a growing revelation of the Father’s overwhelming love for me and his individual destiny for my life. Seeing myself through the eyes of my Father I have learned to love myself. Truly love myself.
As a direct result of finding my identity in Jesus and a revelation of my created value, it is now easy for me to see and celebrate the beauty of others. I love to look at beautiful girls. I go up to them and tell them I have never seen anyone so beautiful and mean every word. Nothing excites me more than seeing my friends prosper in their business, jobs, family and reaching their dreams. It just jacks me up. Mark is a witness to this. This is not because I’m Mother Theresa, it’s because I have truly fallen in love with myself as a direct result of my revelation of the Father’s love for me. I now celebrate the individual glory I have to offer and hence am completely free to celebrate the beauty and success in others. Especially other girls.
The most powerful thing about putting an end to comparison is that it allows you to love, truly love the people and family around you.
It allows you to have deep intimate friendships with one another. Not based on need. But based on love. You cease to be inward. You cease to subconsciously compare. You cease to view other’s success as a painful reminder of your own inadequacies. You cease to gossip (praise God)! Oh girls it is so powerful.
A Great Illustration
My husband has a perfect illustration for this. Imagine if we were all driving in separate cars on a highway. We all have the same final destination, but drive in different lanes which were created and intended for us. If we look to the side and see our friend in his or her lane, we may start to compare ourselves. We start to look over and veer into their lane. Because we are not called to what they are, we don’t do it as well. Soon we start to impede on them, and start to slow them down, and crowd them in their lane. Moreover our lane is empty and unfulfilled.
Seriously girls we need to get out of each other’s lanes.
Stop peering and comparing! We are slowing each other down and subsequently our own destinies are void and unfulfilled.
You know at the ripe age of 32 I have realised that my legs are short but they are muscular and strong. A little hairy but that is what wax is for. Big breasts would be annoying to run with and my hair is my favourite kind in the world. Being small allows me to curl up in an economy class chair on the airplane and sleep like any Fat Cat in First Class. Although, don’t get me wrong, I am very open to cheap upgrades. My intelligence manifests incredibly different to every other person I know. Definitely different to every other doctor. I’m not logical, I don’t have a photographic memory and technology is a constant steep learning curve. But goodness I’m an incredible writer, I am a mind-blowing cook, I am more creative than I ever imagined, and I can make almost any item of clothing look amazing. By wearing it! I actually can. This is not pride, this is me celebrating the incredible daughter of God I am.
We can only love each other to the measure of the revelation of God’s overwhelming love for us.
We can only celebrate each other’s destinies and success to the measure that we believe His plan and purpose for our lives are unique and powerful.
The final word
Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another, and swerving into each other’s lanes. Instead, let’s get a true revelation of the Father’s love of us and out of this complete contentment in who we are, start to love one other in a true, authentic way.
When you move from comparison to contentment, it also moves you from intimidation, to inspiration in the people that surround you.
I have a dream that all women, will have a revelation of the love of Christ for them. I have a dream that we will celebrate each other’s beauty, fan on each other’s desires and lay down our lives for each other’s destiny. I have a dream that gossip and fakism will be unknown and unheard of in and out of the church.
I decree that girls across our nation will love each other with a deep, intimate, selfless love.
In this lifetime, I will see this. I truly believe it.
You’re dearly loved and cherished
The Healthy Hiccup