The comparison monster. I suppose at one time or another in our lives, we’ll deal with it. I’ve been pretty fortunate not to have a face-to-face run in with the thing for many, many years… maybe since high school.
And then I moved to Dallas. Suddenly, it’s all over me. Creeping over my shoulder when I least expect it. Hiding away near my bathroom mirror as I get ready in the morning. It sits in the passenger seat of my car and whispers its ugliness to me as I drive to my destination. It’s a hideous beast.
I’ve struggled, as I’m sure most of us have, with self-esteem and insecurities at different times in my life. But this beast is different. This isn’t just seeing my flaws in a larger than life manner. It’s seeing those flaws and then comparing them to all the women around me who are prettier, more fashionable, wealthier, more successful, being used by God in big ways, on and on… and on. And on.
So, of course, as God does, He begins to prepare me and show me ways to conquer this beast. I hear Him. I see it in the Word, I hear it in the messages I listen to, and books that somehow land on my table. One of the foundations of something we do at my church is… Hear, Believe, Obey. God is making sure that I have the “hear” part down pat. The next two things are all on me.
While reading “Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes Lee over the last month, the eighth chapter called Preapproved, is pretty much all highlighted and scribbled upon. It’s like that chapter was written for me. Like Jennifer sat in her study and allowed God to use her solely for my benefit. She heard, believed, and obeyed. I’m thankful.
She opens the chapter with this verse: Psalm 37:6 (MSG) – He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Huh… He will validate my life. And stamp me with approval. Me? Well, yeah… that’s what He says! She goes on to say, “Eyes cannot look in two different directions,” so I have the choice to look at the comparison monster or to look at God’s word that He has stamped me with approval. When we know that God’s word is truth, we hear it. The next part is to believe it. A few pages later, Jennifer says, “…living like I actually believe what the Savior says. And He says He love me. It makes me feel weak-kneed and deliriously adored.” A couple paragraphs down she mentions how we need to constantly and consistently remind ourselves that “God delights in me.” We have to train ourselves to believe what God says about us is true. That’s when we can really begin to understand it.
So then, how do we obey – now that we’ve heard and we’ve believed?
Just stop. Stop listening to the monster that ushers those ugly lies – because that’s all they are – into our heart places. Slowly replace those thoughts with the thoughts He has given us over and over again. In this chapter, Jennifer explains how God is a God of “Alreadys” and how we are already preapproved by Him, loved by Him, cherished by Him. We didn’t even have to do anything! In 1 John 3:1, she points out, “I am already His beloved child.” Already. “He is the God of Alreadys, inviting me to turn away from the voices that tell me I’m not enough. His words are an invitation to every unwanted child, every unrequited lover, and every person who has ever wanted to know he or she matters.”
Over the last couple of weeks, once I admitted and accepted that this was something that was beginning to impact me way more than I wanted it to, I was able to seek the things from Him to remind me how loved I am – for no reason at all.
He doesn’t care if I put on make-up every day so that I look like everyone else in this huge metroplex. He wants me to put on Him every day. When I walk out of the house with Him covering me, there is no comparison game. This is how we obey. We stop our own cycle of madness so that we can hear and believe, and eventually obey His truth of love, approval, and attention.
“I am unabashedly, irrevocably loved,” she says. Me too. You too. This is our truth. This is what we’re to believe so that we are able to obey the things He calls us to do in this life, for His purpose.
This beast can be a hard one to conquer, but it isn’t impossible because we have a God who is bigger than impossible. He’s mightier than the beast and will slay him dead, as soon as we hear, believe, and obey. Part of our obedience is allowing God into that part of us so that He can take it out, once and for all.
My friends, if you’re struggling with comparison, I beg you to own it and work on it. It’s a freedom like no other. When we stop wondering if we’re enough, we’ll realize we’ve always been enough. You are already loved, approved, and delighted in by the most loving, merciful God.