In this episode:
Has comparison kept you from fulfilling the purpose God intended for you? Do you experience highs and lows in your positive outlook based on appearance or body or image? This week, we continue from last week with talking about how to break the chains of unhealthy comparison and experience God’s best for us.
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Last week, I talked with Heather Creekmore about comparison and about how she overcame a constant struggle with body image. This week, let’s continue that conversation with some thoughts about how comparison affects everyday life and how we can change our mindset.
I’m not sure we ever really get over comparison. But I’m in a better place than I was at one point. I want to share some of the dangers that I talked about in the opening chapters of my book, The Repurposed and Upcycled Life.
The dangers come when our mindset centers around our physical appearance or even our body health and not the other way around.
- If I believe that I can only smile if I am thin, or if I have lost my joy, what happens if my body changes?
- When I think other people have something that God forgot to give me, comparison has gone awry.
- If I lose weight and people tell me I look great and then I gain some, or all of it, back, what do I now believe about myself? See episode 8 where I talked about how we can start to make this part of our self-worth.
- When I long for someone else’s life, body, job, talents, success, etc. and I don’t see what I already have, this is dangerous.
- If my insecurity about my body, my image, abilities, or anything else causes me to withdraw from participating in life or from volunteering or serving, comparison has frozen me.
Let’s look for some ways we can move past comparison to a healthy place of living out what God has designed for each of us.
I’m not a perfect body weight. I have extra chins. But long ago I broke out of the chains of bondage that said I wasn’t good enough, qualified enough, or skinny enough to pursue the big audacious opportunities God provided. Guess what happens? When we say yes to a small opportunity, God keeps opening up more. When I stopped waiting to be a certain size to pursue writing and speaking, I put it all out there on stage. Sometimes literally.
There was the time where I spoke for a group of bankers at their Christmas party and on my way to my car, I discovered my slip had not only bumped down below my belly roll (I could feel it while I was speaking), but it had slid right down my thighs. I didn’t know it had gone that far, But as I paced back and forth on that stage with complete confidence, I can only be thankful that perhaps with a few Christmas cocktails in them, they didn’t notice the weird lace-trimmed satin that had slid low enough to practically make a maxi dress out of my knee-length one. As I schlepped my tote bag and purse to the car, I felt its restriction around my legs.
I’ve discovered there is a spiritual root, not a physical one, that keeps me from freedom. It isn’t my body size that restricts me from full-on living, it’s my mindset.
- Pride. I know the thoughts of people. I know how they criticize people on the stage or in the photo shoot. I’ve seen the comments about news anchors and Hollywood stars. But God didn’t call me to live for the approval of those people. He called me to live for his approval. Pride goes both ways. It can also lead me to believe I’m better than someone else.
- Shame. When stuck in unhealthy comparison, we live in a place of constant shame, thinking we don’t measure up.
- Envy. This causes us to dislike people who have something we want. It might make us angry when they achieve something we wanted to achieve. Their happiness might irritate us.
I wanted to bring another voice into this episode and have my friend Amber Cullum share a few words about comparison. Amber is the host of the Grace Enough podcast, and she was a guest on episode 71. Listen as Amber Cullum tells us about how there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy comparison.
Amber cautioned against two things we might say:
- I am better than
- I don’t measure up
She also mentioned Galatians 6:3–6 “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor” (NIV).
I love Amber’s questions:
- Why am I comparing?
- Is the comparison breeding sinful behavior or motivating me toward godliness?
- Is this fulfilling my purpose to glorify God?
If you want to continue thinking about this topic, I encourage you to check out my book and companion Bible study book: The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure. You can get info and learn how you can sign up for a download of a sample of the first chapter on my website.
(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. )
Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
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