Comparison is a Thief
Well, it happened. I turned 50 this month! Mercy me - I can't believe I'm 50!
And, here's the kicker - I spent my 50th birthday in a bathing suit.
I wish this wasn't true, I wish so much I was totally over this - but few things bring comparison to the table for me more than bathing suits.
Back when my skin was tight and my knees didn’t touch, I still hated them. They are, and have always been, a necessary evil allowing me to access the water.
Mexico was on the agenda for my birthday this year. My hubby Brent and I swam in cenotes, jumped off platforms high in the air, and snorkelled in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.
It was a wonderful day, and I almost forgot about my half-nakedness.
Because someone who doesn’t love me was taking pictures - a staff member, hired to capture memorable moments, snuck mercilessly around the jungle, collecting action shots.
Enough said, right?
There I was, my 50 year old self, soaring through the air. My face said, this is awesome! But my body showed evidence of a half decade of wear and tear.
Now, I have a gracious, affirming husband who loves me exactly as I am. God bless him.
But ladies, I can’t unsee those pictures. And while I’m able to joke about it here, I admit that it tainted my day.
Scrolling through the pictures that day had me neck deep in a horrible body shaming narrative and active comparison.
So I did what most of us do when comparison comes calling - I got grumpy.
Oh my goodness, I shake my head at myself about this.
But we do this don’t we? We measure ourselves up against others, highlighting their strengths, while simultaneously highlighting our weaknesses. And then, because there's no end to the unfair nature of comparison, we end up casting judgement against ourselves and focusing strictly on our shortcomings.
How fair is that? Comparison really is the thief of joy.
So, how do we combat this thief? This joy-stealer? This grumpy-making, fun-stopping, enemy of peace?
I wish I had a magic answer for you. I'm still wrestling with this myself (obviously). But what I've learned is this - what we focus on, we find. What we think on, give space to, or ruminate about becomes the main stage of our life.
So if I am focused on what I decide are short comings - ie, saggy skin, sizes on the tag - that is all I'll see.
The Bible is very clear - take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5).
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom.12:2).
Unexamined thoughts can do a lot of harm.
Did you know, we don't have to think the thoughts that get dropped into our heads?
Here is your Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Lesson:
Thoughts => Feelings => Behaviours
What we think will inform our feelings. And our feelings inform our behaviours.
We women tend to forget to think. We skip it and head right to feelings, and then we behave according to our feelings.
So the CBT strategy is this, think about your thoughts. Take them to the jury. Hold every thought up to truth, and ask each one these questions:
1. Is thought in line with what the Bible says? What God says?
2. If I think this thought, will it lead me towards who God wants me to be, or away from her?
3. Does thinking this thought help me or hurt me?
And then introduce new, Bible informed thoughts. Thoughts from the heart of our Father, the One Who created us, and loves us unconditionally.
I like Ps. 139:13 "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb."
I’ll be honest - when it came to the bathing suit situation, I needed to get even more serious with myself - so I had this pointed, painful conversation with myself, "Nicole, do you disagree with God that His creation is wonderfully made? Is God wrong? Comparing is self focused - and is in opposition to what God asks from you. Time to pull it together.”
And so I did. I pulled it together. This isn't to say it's completely figured out. But what I believe to be true is that comparison of any kind is absolutely in opposition to what God calls us to. We are uniquely and wonderfully made. On purpose, for a purpose. Our strengths, skillsets, giftings were hand picked for us by the Creator and then plunked into beautiful souls wrapped in skin.
Aging is hard on skin, for sure. But let's decide together to peer through God's lens - at ourselves, and at others. And let's take a giant step away from the enemy of comparison and rest in the knowing that God is interested in who we are, how we honour Him - not how successful we are, that we have all the latest gadgets, or how cute we look in a bathing suit.
Thank goodness for these small mercies!!
He genuinely loves us exactly as we are.
Blessings to you this month as you pursue His call on your life and stand against the lies of comparison.