Moving from Comparison to Claiming Your Purpose
While reading, listen to All The Pretty Girls by Kaleo.
"Is comparison a forever thing?"
I loved my friend's honesty. "I just feel like no matter how many inspiring quotes I read, or how often I give myself a little pep talk on how awesome my life/work is...I fail in this. I don't want to compare, but I really don't know how not to." If you're thinking anything along the lines of, "Girl, I FEEL you," than you've probably had a similar conversation...either with a friend or in your own head.
Comparison is like that leg of traffic on the freeway that you try to go around or get there early enough to beat, yet it's always there, it makes you feel stuck, and it gets you behind.
As human beings, it is normal and good to care. The desire to lead meaningful, fulfilling, and impactful lives is from God. If we're honest, we ALL care about the quality of our lives, how we are perceived, and whether or not we are on "the right track." How do we estimate our progress or value? Often, it's by looking at the person who is next to us, the person who is caring about the exact same things, but just doesn't look like they do. Isn't it true? We forget that we're more normal than we think, and everyone else in the room has fears, insecurities, and dreams too! Most people wonder if they are measuring up, and the lie we believe is that it's just us. Yes, the person in the cubicle next to you with a Mexico vacation on the calendar and three degrees hanging in silver frames struggles with comparison. Yes, your married friend with that big diamond ring and perfect skin has moments when she fears she isn't doing it all right.
So if we are all struggling to believe that we are enough, then perhaps someone else's life should not be the standard by which we measure our own value!
When my friend asked, "Is comparison a forever thing?" I completely understood. It feels like a battle that can't be overcome, but that is simply not true! We just can't beat this thing alone. When we STOP comparing ourselves to people to determine our value or success, and make the purposes of God our standard...we are free! Free to applaud someone who is KILLING it in the same field of work as you. Free to feel INSPIRED instead of INSECURE. Free to be where you are and love it there, because there is no rush to be where "everyone else" is. Free to admit to your weaknesses without feeling like a failure, because you know that God is teaching you in those things too.
As a daughter, wife, sister, pastor, friend, and creative - there are a million ways I want to grow. Be better. Love deeper. Make a difference. And in each of those roles, I have learned to approach the throne of grace in boldness, and leave my insecurity at God's feet.
There, on my knees, honoring him as the King of my heart, he gives me every ounce of mercy, help, confidence, and direction that I need. He reminds me to stay in my lane, that I should never despise the small steps of the journey, and that he sees the big picture of my life. Another beautiful thing about aligning ourselves with God's purposes? It takes our eyes off of our "supposed" setbacks, and back onto the lives of others. Ultimately, people are our purpose - to love, serve, and lead them to Jesus - in our unique way!
Moving from comparison to claiming our purpose is ultimately the key to lasting confidence and making a difference.
It's in the center of our purpose - to love God and to love the people around us - where we find ourselves. It's there we find joy, it's there we find the ability to champion the people in our lives, and it is there we find contentment! This is only ONE of the incredible things life with Jesus unlocks - freedom from comparison into a purpose for each of us.
Motivational quotes are awesome, but they won't solve it. Self-pep talks are important, but they don't get the problem at the root. Comparison won't disappear if we just hope we become awesome enough to never feel threatened or insecure again! Comparison is a lie from the Enemy, that our life's value and impact is weighed next to someone else's. Comparison can only be beat when it is replaced with a sure purpose, which God provides.
I wish I could tell you that I nail this. The truth is, some days I feel like I am a terrible writer, who should just throw in the towel on this whole "blogging" thing. Other days, I look at myself in the mirror, and I don't like the body I see. And to be really honest, sometimes I don't know if I'm making a difference in my church or community at all. I can tell you that even though I still tend give those feelings space in my life (I'm working on it), I no longer give them authority.
If we do believe the lies of "not being good enough to do it at all", than our purpose will have been successfully robbed from us, which would be the biggest shame of all.
How do we do this? Here's what I do...
Begin each new day in God's Word and presence. Invite his truth to invade any inner darkness, misleading feelings, damaging self-talk, and lies from the Enemy.
Look to the needs and hearts of others. When we take our eyes off of ourselves and onto the lives of others, we experience deep fulfillment and we obey the the greatest commandment Jesus gave us: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)
Be a safe place for people to celebrate. When we find our confidence and identity in God's truth, not our work or performance, we can celebrate with others. Let's choose to be people who can champion another without feeling like it takes anything away from us.
Remember that real life is offline. We cannot compare our day-to-day lives with someone else's highlight reel! First, it isn't the full picture, (which does not mean that their day-to-day stuff is automatically less than), and second, we will never be free to love our own lives in real time, if we're so obsessed with curating a perfect image, or envying someone else online.
Surround yourself with Christ-like people. As much as we are called to be a light in dark places, and to influence the world around us, we are also called to live in Christian community (just read Proverbs and you'll know what I mean). There, we find encouragement, support, conviction, and a godly perspective - all things that keep us grounded in God's purpose.
Cultivate a beautiful heart. Invest in ETERNAL things, things of the heart, for it is those things that will live beyond you and produce real fruit in your life. Of course, this must be balanced, and other elements of life matter to God too, but it is the condition of our heart that he cares about most. Be careful what you let into it...watch TV, listen to music, read books, and grow hobbies that will bring you closer to a gorgeous heart. (Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 6:21)
Do you feel like my friend, and you just can't seem to shake the hold of comparison? When was the last time you claimed your purpose? Do you daily align your expectations/dreams/desires/insecurities with the TRUTH of God's Word? This is the hard heart work that we must do! When we commit to really turning from comparison to a place of claimed purpose, I believe that our work, our relationships, and our identity will be restored into vibrant, healthy ground for dreams to grow. Are you with me?