You slip into your brand new one-piece. It looked okay in the store’s dressing room.
I can do this. You think to yourself.
But one accidental glance at the tag’s picture of the gorgeous woman wearing it and suddenly you stare in the mirror and question your choice. Those must have been skinny mirrors. Argh! Foiled again! Alas, they are waiting. No time to choose a new suit now.
You head out the door for what should be a fun day by the water. You set up your chair, situate your belongings, and it’s time. Everyone starts shedding layers. You glance around. Wow, that’s a cute suit. You think. I wonder why I never noticed what a great figure she had before?
Hmmm… You sit, fully clothed, considering ways that you could legitimately keep your cover up on all day long. Does, “I’m allergic to the sun!” sound legit? If only it wasn’t a billion degrees outside…
The real problem: comparison.
Comparison kills us. Not in a quick, bullet to the heart kind of way either. Death by comparison comes slowly. A little prick here as we notice how thin her thighs are…a little stab there as we observe her stretch mark free abs…until our strength to live joyfully has been drained.
Perhaps you think I’m being a little melodramatic. But, I truly believe it’s time for us to take the toxicity of comparison seriously. Here are the three reasons to cut out comparison:
1. Comparison keeps us from contentment.
I love Pinterest. And, I hate Pinterest. I scroll through the social media site and, within seconds, can find one thousand reasons to be discontent with what I own, how I look, and my inability to simultaneously make my own soap and home decor while making Whole 30 freezer meals for the next six months. Ridiculous, right?
So why do we do it? Because our hearts are bent toward comparison.
They instinctively ask, “Am I enough?” and “Should I being doing better?”
Comparison quickly chimes in. It first answers, “Yeah, look at her. You’re fine.” Then, just when you start to get comfortable, comparison comes back and says, “Wow. Did you see her? You better get to work. No way can you keep up with that. Diet starts tomorrow. Where’s that gym membership card again?”
Comparison keeps our focus misplaced.
When you are caught in its trap you look at two different places to find your worth: others and yourself. Yet, neither of these places do an apt job of telling you how you are doing. Their standards constantly change. Just when you figure out the right combination of products and tools to get your hair perfectly straight: Bang! Curly hair is back in style.
Comparison traps us on the treadmill of discontent.
I tugged at my tankini top, to keep it covering the extra roll of flesh I’ve developed around my middle since turning the big 4-0. And, there she sat, right beside me, sporting a black bikini and looking like she just stepped out of a swimwear catalog.
Did I want to compare my soon-to-be middle aged body with her youthful one? Of course. But, did I? No.
Why? Because here’s the truth: she’s my friend. I know her pretty well. I hear her struggles and she hears mine. So, when comparison crosses my mind. I stop and take that thought captive. Otherwise I know our friendship would be jeopardized. Why? Because then she would no longer be my friend. She’d become my competitor.
Have you ever had a friend whom you felt like was always competing with you? Fun, isn’t it? You get a new hair cut. She suddenly does the same. You decide to join the gym. Guess who suddenly became a Zumba zealot?
The competition doesn’t strengthen the relationship though, does it? Instead, the pressure of out-pacing each other (or even trying to avoid her mimicking your ever move) suffocates any chance of true relationship.
Real friendship can only occur when we are free to be vulnerable and authentic.
Competition says: Never let your guard down; don’t let the enemy see you sweat. Friendship says: Bring me your weakness and I will stand with you to help you be stronger.
Many women are bound to their body image struggles because of comparison. The images in magazines and movies mix with mis-perceptions of those around us who have what we think we want. This creates a lethal combination that swiftly kills our joy.
Christ came to give us freedom. When we choose to measure ourselves against those around us instead of against his standards, we put the chains back on. We say, “That’s nice, Jesus, that you want to give me life and all. But, I’m pretty sure I’d be happier if I could just have her abs.”
We believe that true life is not found in Him but in having the perfect body, or skin, or looking like a Victoria’s Secret model.
Friends, it’s a lie.
Comparison keeps us bound to the myth that beauty will make our lives better. Comparison keeps us shackled to a fictional reality that shows a pain-free life comes with wearing a size two.
Free yourself from comparison’s bondage today by confessing to the Savior that you’ve been deceived. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but by me.”
More beauty isn’t the path to life. That’s Jesus.
Have you read: How to Look Great in a Swimsuit: Believe the Gospel?