This is Part 9 of a series titled Unseen. If you are just joining us, please begin here.
I try to guard my heart against comparing myself to others. I know this is harmful to me. Yet, I get online, and I do it without thinking. It’s so natural for us to compare ourselves to someone else. I hop online for a few minutes and scroll through my feeds. I see posts of a friend creating these amazing lunches, cut into adorable animal shapes, organized to perfection in a lunch box straight from a magazine picture. In the secret places of my mind, the whispers begin. She is a good mama. Her kids love how much effort she puts into their lunches. Your mismatched lunch in a 5 year old hand-me-down lunchbox is a disgrace. You are failing.
I reject myself. I feed the lie that I’m not accepted.
Another post a friend announces her accomplishments of the day. She cooked a homemade breakfast, cleaned the house, spent the morning playing games with her children, got all the errands completed, and had a gourmet meal waiting on the table when her husband walked in the door. Feeling accomplished is her emoticon.
While I want so badly to feel happy for her. I begin to reject my own self because of my lack of accomplishment in comparison to hers.
Holding hands with my self rejection is jealousy. The two begin whispering into my heart. Look how together she has it. Her husband must feel so blessed. How does she do all that and you can barely manage to get the food onto the table? Your table presentation needs some work. So does your time management and organization. By the way, you didn’t sit down all day and actually play with your children today. They feel neglected. You are failing everyone today.
If I reject myself, how do I expect anyone to accept me? My pride grows as I focus my attention on myself. Even my insecure self.
When we compare ourselves in the privacy of our own head to people or circumstances in our overly seen world, we alienate ourselves, creating our own loneliness.
If we aren’t careful, we build a convincing case in our minds that is false. A lie straight from the enemy’s mouth sets up camp disguised as truth. The lie is spoken from the mouth of fear. And God is there telling us to fear not. Look up. Fix our eyes on the unseen.
1 Samuel 17:38-40 NIV
“Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
David recognized something right away. Saul’s armor wasn’t made for David. It felt unnatural to him. Saul battled in a coat of armor and a bronze helmet. But David battled from the security of knowing he wasn’t alone. David knew who truly battled on his behalf. He knew he was never alone. So he took off that heavy armor and faced a giant with stones and a sling.
Our friend’s life wasn’t created for us, nor ours for them. God desires each of us enter into life ready for battle in our own armor with eyes fixed on him, the unseen in an overly-seen world. Life has to be lived in our own skin, in our own natural state, in our own armor, not the armor of anyone else.
In the seen world, in the unseen world, we are a daughter of the king, clothed in righteousness. Let’s not compare our armor to her armor. He created each armor unique and for a purpose. Let’s battle life fully confident who goes with us. Who accepts us.
Let’s have the confidence and assurance of David who said to Saul in 1 Sam 17:37 “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” That same LORD is our LORD too. The same Lord that was with David is with us. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That same God can deliver us from the bears and lions of comparison. We need only ask Him.
We can’t change the world we live in, and we shouldn’t fight it either. Not all online relationships and interactions are detrimental. Some are wonderful, godly, and life-giving. We can’t change the online culture, but we can change how we respond to it. We can learn to respond rather than react. In our own hearts, in our own minds. That is where the real battle lies.
I love reading Dr. Kevin Lehman’s parenting books. He is known for saying parents should learn to respond rather than react to their children’s misbehaviors. I believe the same holds true for us when we navigate the twists and turns of our over-shared, over-seen world. We can train ourselves to respond with eyes turned upward rather than reacting with eyes turned inward and outward.
Our tendency as women is towards comparison. Tendencies can be overcome and retrained. Our natural reaction may be to compare ourselves. We can train ourselves to respond to our insecurities with the truth of God’s Word.
When we compare ourselves, we begin to reject ourselves if we feel we don’t measure up. We forget that God accepts us simply because He loves us. Christ did all the work for us, now we work for Him. Not to gain his approval and acceptance, but simply out of love. If we strive for man’s approval, we will limit what we do for Christ.
To fix our eyes on the Unseen, we must first move our eyes from ourself. We move our eyes from her, or her, or her, or him, or them. We look to Him for faith to believe He accepts us because we have accepted His son.
The secret to filling our deep heart desire for acceptance, love, and relationship is to offer it first to others.
What we want most in life, we offer to others out of our deep love for Christ. He fills us back with what we give out. He fills our desires so they will overflow into the lives of those around us.
When we learn to overcome comparing ourselves, we are equipped to offer ourselves fully to others.
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