“I will never be Stephanie May.”
Opening my email yesterday, I wasn’t expecting to see a blog with my name in the title. As I clicked on the link, a slow blush began to creep up my face. And then my heart began to ache.
A current World Racer, a woman named Anna had written a blog about comparison.
The measuring stick that she’s been standing next to, the one that she felt that she was falling so short of… was me.
The word ‘comparison’ hovers around each of us like a sick cloud of pollution.
For all of my life, I’ve measured myself against the people around me. Was I as pretty as my friends? Did boys like me as much as they liked them? One of my best friends and I would compete in our eighth grade humanities class- each of us trying to earn the prize of being smarter.
But those comparisons were relatively innocent compared to the ones that showed up later in my life.
What I found was that my ‘comparison tendencies’ were not limited to the people I actually knew.
I would keep my TV tuned to shows on the entertainment channels- the ones about celebrities and their tricks for a ‘perfect’ body. I used to watch all of the shows that tour the houses of the rich and the famous. I would look at them, knowing full well that I was not as skinny, as beautiful or as rich and successful as the people on TV, but vowing that somehow I would get there. The feeling of ‘coming up short’ made me feel so sick, so inadequate, that I was willing to do anything I could not to feel that way anymore.
Maybe if I made a ton of money, maybe if I lost 30 pounds, maybe if I married someone rich and famous, maybe if I was just a little bit more beautiful… maybe that sick feeling of inadequacy would go away.
Competition stabs at us, wounding us from all sides, kicking us while we’re down, never letting up.
My roommate and I became friends the second we met each other but all of that was almost destroyed a few months later- our friendship bending under the weight of comparison.
We both played guitar, we both liked to sing, we both are writers and we both are women- women that want to be seen and noticed and regarded.
And somewhere along the line, the lie crept in that only one of us could be all of those things. We both started shying away from the things that we love to do, not wanting to compete with the other, and certainly not wanting to come up short.
Slowly but surely I abandoned my guitar, she stopped writing and we both stopped singing. We stopped becoming the women that God wanted us to be- because we didn’t want to be compared to the other one, we didn’t want to have to fight, we didn’t want to lose.
The word ‘comparison’ and the destruction it leaves in its wake, seems to be the theme of the moment… for as long as I can remember.
But I had a realization, about a year ago, that was a massive stab to the heart of the thing that has haunted me for so long.
Beauty isn’t linear.
I was at my World Race training camp, eating cereal on the floor when I was almost knocked over with this realization.
I realized that we, all of us, are constantly trying to fit ourselves in this perceived line up of ‘best to worst.’
We walk in a room and immediately notice all of the people that are more successful, have more friends or are better looking. On the other side (a side that feels much better in the moment) we thank God that we are better of than all of those people.
Sometimes we feel amazing. Sometimes we feel like the best writers in the world, the most successful, or the most desirable. But then someone ‘better’ walks in the room, and our confidence walks right out.
But the truth is that it’s all a lie.
It’s a LIE that we fit in somewhere between 1 and 10. It’s a lie that we ‘are someone’ based on the size of our bank account, the size of our promotion or the size of our pants.
It’s a lie that we fall somewhere on the line between ugly and beautiful.
It’s just not linear. None of it is.
God created all of us- perfectly. Like an intricate painting, He was intentional with every single choice of color and with every brush stroke. We are His works of art, His brainchild, His masterpiece and He made us like this for a reason.
Something that we’ve been talking about around our house recently is that we are all different parts of the Body. It’s something that my roommate Kacie will be unpacking in her new blog! (I can’t wait to share it with you!)
But the point is that we were all made for a purpose, our purposes are all DIFFERENT and WE are all different.
And it’s so, so good.
It’s just not linear.
And because it’s not, we have absolutely no business ranking ourselves against the people around us.
Our worth and our identity come straight from our Creator. It comes from the fact that Jesus died on the cross for us- taking away all of our sin, all of our mess and all of our shortcomings.
When God looks at us, He sees Jesus. Jesus traded our mess for His perfection, and then He was killed- leaving us perfect and pure in God’s eyes.
And because of that, beautiful and pure and perfect as we are… we have the responsibility to thank God for that priceless gift by walking as the people He made us to be.
So Anna, thank you.
Thank you for writing and for being honest and real and bold. Thank you for bringing light to this ugly cloud of comparison, both for your freedom and for ours. Because when we as individuals walk in freedom and walk in light, it spreads.
I pray that comparison would disappear from all of us, in Jesus’ name, and in its place would be the eyes to see ourselves as the beautiful masterpieces that we are- unique and perfectly and wonderfully made.