This post is a part of a series titled, “Questions about Body Image and Comparison.” Here’s today’s question:
My best friend has a great figure. But she seems to do nothing to work at it. She eats what she wants and barely exercises, yet still looks incredible. Can I be honest? I’m jealous. I battle my weight and I work so hard to stay fit, yet I can’t keep up with her. I know there is more to both of us than our jeans’ sizes and body shapes. Yet, I get stuck wishing I could look more like her–frequently. Can you tell me: How do I stop comparing myself to my friend? I know that this has to affect our friendship and I want to stop. Thank you.
K – Florida
I love your question because it’s so honest. How many of us silently harbor feelings of envy towards a woman we are close to, but never give it expression?
Yet, it’s that verbalization–that confession if you will–that can open the gate to freedom.
I totally get what you are saying. I was the girl all through high school and college that only seemed to have tall thin friends. I’d try to go all day without eating to keep the scales happy, while my friends would woof down my favorites without gaining an ounce. I don’t know that I recognized my envy of them at the time. All I know is that I prayed every night, “God, just give me a metabolism like that!”
Proverbs 27:4 says “Wrath is cruel, anger overwhelming but who can stand before jealousy.” Jealousy, it’s more damaging to deal with than wrath or anger. And, it really does have an impact on our friendships.
What’s worse is that to really find freedom from our body image issues in general (Did you know that almost 90% of women struggle with body image?) — we have to start talking to each other! We have to find a way to support and love each other in true, authentic, and genuine ways. Until then our comparison will continue, as will our envy, strife and loneliness!
For you, specifically, I’d recommend this course of action.
First, confess the issue to God. Tell your Heavenly Father that you know you are struggling with envy and that you want it to end.
Second, it could be helpful to confess it to your friend as well. Depending on her maturity and the closeness of your relationship, asking her to forgive you for being jealous could begin an interesting conversation for you both. It’s likely that she’ll either be surprised by your admission. She may even totally surprise you by confessing that she’s been jealous of you too! Pray about whether or not this is what God would have you do and then find a good time to have a deeper conversation. This can really strengthen your friendship if you seek God in the process.
Third, invest in binoculars. Okay, that one sounds weird, but follow me here. The best way to cure the ill of comparison is to focus in on our own, unique purpose and to not be distracted by what someone else is doing, wearing, or weighing. When you use real binoculars you have no periphery vision. You can’t see to your left or to your right. You can only see what you are zoomed in on, enlarged. (Unless you use them backwards which happens at our house a lot and then you see everything smaller!)
I’ll confess, sometimes the monster of jealousy grips me with my writing and blogging. I once spent hours comparing my site (on comparison) with someone else’s site (on comparison) and stewed all night–comparing which site was better. How’s that for ridiculous?
What I have to constantly remind myself of, and what I’d encourage you to do too, is the following. . .
Just focus on God’s plan for YOUR life, God’s purpose for YOUR life, and the way God designed you to accomplish that plan and you’ll have less desire (and ability) to focus on how He is working in someone else’s. When you can truly believe that He has a unique purpose for you and that He gave you everything YOU need to accomplish this purpose, it helps you take the focus off of your friend and place it back on Him and what He has in store for your life.