The world is full of amazing people. There are great athletes who won medals in the recent Olympics, actrices in Hollywood who look gorgeous, volunteers who change the world one act of service at a time. But also closer to home. I have sister who has a fulltime job, and still goes to school at night. Friends at church, who serve multiple times a week, while also working and raising a family. That’s just two examples of many many people in my life I look up to.
Having people around you to look up to can indeed be amazing, but it can also be intimidating. I struggle with low self-esteem and I always compare myself to others. Their successes or every day accomplishments seem to put a magnifying glass on my personal shortcomings. For example when some of my colleagues work late, and I think I should be equally dedicated. Or when I’m at a friend’s house that is much more tidy than my own. I know so am not the only one who feels like this. So in this post of like to talked about how I approach this, especially what relating it to my faith.
Losing the race
All people compare themselves to others. To a certain extent, that is the basis of our society. A lot of things are decided based on comparison to others: salary is often based on how the salaries in the same job at other companies compare. Games and races are entirely based on one thing/person being better or faster than the other. But my problem is often that I feel I am in a race; called LIFE. And I feel like I’m falling behind my friends, my family, my colleagues or even strangers.
Now, that is my problem. One I struggle with often. Today was not a good day to be comparing my self to anybody and insecurities hit hard. Rationally I can think of a solution; just do not think of it as a race or game to be won. After all, a perfectly correct analysis of comparison is ‘they are different’ as opposed to ‘they are better’. So I try to remind myself sometimes of this idea, but as with all my strategies so far, it has not really worked.
God does not compare
As the previous strategy does not really work, I had to find a new one. I am not going to say it is a miracle worker, because it isn’t. But what works for me is to remind myself that God does not compare. He does not compare me to anybody else, not does He compare you or your actions to anybody else. In God’s eyes, each one of His children is equally loved, and equally in need of His mercy and grace. We all make mistakes and we all fail to measure up to the example of Jesus.
God doesn’t have a scale on which He measures our performance. He does not look at the world and see little races everywhere, wanting to know who is going to win. God does measure my by the actions of another. That is a super human thing to do.
Countering the negatives
For me, the comparisons lead to negative thoughts and self-doubt. If there is one thing I have learned in my 28 years in this Earth, is that simply saying ‘I should not think that’ has never worked. Pink elephant, anyone?!? The first step is awareness; I had to become aware of the self-doubt. Now, I am not always completely aware of my negative thoughts or doubts. But sometimes I am aware, so that’s where I start.
When I find myself in a dark spiral, I find it best to remind myself of something positive (ergo: counter the negative with a positive). The important thing here though, is that that positive thing has to be something I believe. Repeating something that I don’t believe has always had the reverse effect, since I feel like a fool and then I find my self in a (forgive the pun) double negative.
To find something positive about myself that I believe, I go to Scripture. It is full of God’s unending love for me. If He loves me that much, there must be something worth saving. Over time I have made a list of scriptures that help me lift my spirits. For this purpose the list focuses mainly on God’s view of me and my person:
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa 139:14)
- I am created in His image (Gen 1:27)
- I am His masterpiece (Eph 2:10)
- I am the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8)
- I am His treasured possession (Deut 6:7)
- He has chosen me (John 15:16)
- He rejoices over me with singing (Zeph 3:17)
- He has loved me with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3)
When I read these scriptures, or say them out loud, I feel God’s loving Spirit around me and am reminded of the fact that I don’t compare, and I was never meant to.
Practice makes perfect
It definitely helps to reference this list when I find myself in a negative spot. But I have also heard that it can help to reciting them every day. That they become engrained into your core being as truth. That sounds like a fairytale to me, mostly because there are very few things I can keep up daily (here I go again feeling guilty and ashamed of my lack of discipline). But I do have the list written down in a notebook I use daily, so that I can reference it often. Even if I don’t read them every day, every time I do read them, they lift my spirits and make me aware of my identity as a beloved Child of God.