Freedom From Comparison
by valerie cabadonga
Have you scrolled through your Instagram and paused to your friend's photo and you could start feeling the thoughts of not being good enough creep in, and the next thing you know, you are now in this hole of total self-doubt?
Yup. Me too.
As I found myself in the same rut over and over again, I started having wavering self-belief and fluctuating self-esteem, and I realized...I am in the middle of the comparison rat race. Every time I scroll through social media, I compared myself and my relationship against others. It has always been a comparison of my "lows and blemishes" versus their "highs and beauty." What an uneven scale to begin with, right?
Comparison has a funny yet evil way of hooking you in. We start by admiring the person for who they are, but as our mind starts pinpointing what they have versus what we lack in an envious and jealous way, admiration turns into comparison. And its not as easy to shake it off like Taylor Swift would say. But at the start of this year, as I surrendered my own battle with it to God, the journey has been eye-opening, overwhelming and comforting, and God has continued to enlighten me with revelations about Him, about me and who He has created me to be.
1. When you are ready to listen, God is ready to speak.
We are constantly distracted by our daily routines and social media that we have let the world have a louder voice than God's. The more we entertain the opinions and standards of the world and let it dictate us, the more we lose track of who we really are and who we belong to.
Somehow we can associate ourselves with Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. We let the praises of the people around us catch our attention more than the value that is already within us.. But as Samuel recognized and tuned into God's voice, he placed himself in a posture ready to listen and receive what God was about to reveal to him...and only him.
As I became hungrier in hearing God's voice, to find peace in the clutter of my thoughts, I have learnt to put myself in a listening posture by saying the words "here I am." By being present in His Presence, it shifts the atmosphere we are in wherever we are, whatever is going around us. When we are ready to listen, God never fails to tell us how valued we are, what a unique masterpiece we are, and how loved we are even with our quirkiness. When we let God reveal our true being to us, the eternal hold of internal affirmation trumps the temporary physical bearing of external validation.
take home notes:
Let us be A samuel wherever we go - ready to listen to god's voice.
be the type of girl who has a "here i am" than an "i'm busy, let's talk later" kind of posture.
2. There is a difference between being alone and being in isolation.
Being alone with God in order to know more of our identity in Him is different to isolating ourselves to fix our own problems without any form of help.
Trying to fix the problem alone made me believe in the lie that I was alone and eventually, I've disconnected myself from my friendships. But the truth is, as I opened my heart to the people I trust, I have come to realize that comparison has become so widespread that it has become so normal for women in our generation to find themselves in it. And I guess that's the good thing about it - you are not alone in facing this. But that's also where the issue lies - it has become so normal that there's far too many women doubting their value and worth because of comparison.
With God in the equation, a battle fought in the walls of our own rooms is one step to healing without completely isolating ourselves. The more we open up to God, listen to His voice and receive in truth our value and identity in Him, the more we find peace in our situation and open to the wisdom and truth from the people we confide to.
take home notes:
Keep two things in mind - 'reach in' to god and 'reach out' to people you trust. keeping digging deeper and inward to god's truth and be surrounded with a pack of girl friends who will hold faith with you.
be the kind of girl who prefers to do life together than alone.
3. Be courageous enough to break the glass and connect the gap.
When we start comparing ourselves to our friends and other people, we slowly build a glass wall between them and us. On their side, it seems like everything is fine but on ours, there's already been a war of comparison going on. We've been comparing everything we are from how we dress to the friends we are with against hers. So even though it seems like we are all fine and connected but in fact, we are FAR from it.
As I was ready to let the friendship slowly slip through the cracks, the Spirit have put the words "break the glass" in my heart over and over again. When I have mustered up all my courage, I confessed to her the reason why I have become so distant and aloof (yup, comparison did it). Once the words were out of my mouth, I felt a weight off my shoulders and the broken glass wall has given me a hunger for intentionality and connection, not just to her, but to everyone else. When we break the glass, we also give others the permission and ability to identify and break theirs.
To be honest, at first, I somewhat thought of myself as weak for admitting defeat and shied away, but now looking back into it, breaking the comparison glass wall is not a sign of weakness but of strength. It is a sign of grabbing victory from comparison's hands and claiming that you will no longer be their slave.
take home notes:
identify the people that you have been comparing yourself with and pray for courage to break the glass wall that you have encased yourself and your friendships in. When you are ready, share with your heart open from a place of strength, not of defense.
be the type of girl who doesn't let comparison limit who she loves
and how she loves.
4. Know how to celebrate other people's success.
As we scroll through social media, we see other people with their careers skyrocketing, going on holidays with their significant others, and with all the other things that do not look like our reality but wish it was. When we start to compare our reality to people's highlight reels, we start to think of our lives and value in lack rather than in love.
When it comes to comparison, we have the tendency to love others in their face and hate them behind their back. In their company, we celebrate with encouragement and affection but when they are out of sight, our comments turn 180 degrees to comments of hate, slander, envy and resentment. Yes, I have been guilty of this and yes, it is plain fake!
Breaking the glass walls and becoming intentional in our friendships allows us to celebrate genuinely and lovingly of people's success, their own beauty and their seasons of harvest. And I like to think that life is meant to be celebrated this way. Only when we are able to genuinely appreciate others without comparison that we start to celebrate our own beauty, success and seasons of harvest as something that is unique, valuable, more than enough and worthy.
We cannot be two faced when it comes to love - believing on our God-identity while soaking on every comparison thought and engaging is resentful competition with the girl next door. John 5:44 (MSG) says this:
"How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?"
take home notes:
when you find yourself being envious, immediately change jealousy into joy by being grateful of your own blessings. thank god for them and their success, and thank god for you, where you are now and your incoming harvest.
be the kind of girl who loves a person both in the spotlight and behind-the-scenes.
5. We have our own identifiers and own race to run.
Sometimes we wish to be so much like the girl to our left or our right that we try to erase any identifiers that makes us who we are, and that is one of the biggest things that comparison robs us of. When we compare ourselves, we become busy and consumed to becoming someone rather than being the only one.
Galatians 5:25-26 (MSG) puts it this way:
"Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us is better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original."
I love that line - EACH OF US IS AN ORIGINAL. Original is defined as created personally by a particular artist (God); not a copy. Do you know that the word masterpiece is derived from the Greek word poiema which is poem? You are God's poem - His love song - to this world, and every poem has a unique genre, a unique story that makes it stand out from all the other poems.
Our own uniqueness plays a part in God's Kingdom. Maybe you are created to be an organized person because you are able to perform administrative tasks like a boss. Maybe you are created to be a bubbly person because you can easily let people feel welcome and comfortable in a new community. Maybe you are created to be a creative because you are able to express God's beauty beyond words. Maybe you are created the way you are because that is the main thing that you need when it comes to reaching out to God's people.
In this journey, I am learning that you are allowed to be the quirky, unique and awesome real you while going through a God transformation.
take home notes:
Pray and ask God to reveal the original you and peel the coated 'second-hand' layers. With your daily actions, discern whether this is coming from your true 'you'
or just to make you feel that you are fitting in.
Be the type of girl who is not afraid to be raw, relevant and real. All the time.
As we go through life, we - even I do - often find ourselves comparing our situations to other people and hey, that doesn't mean you have failed. It means you are human. But let Proverbs 24:16 (Passion Translation) encourage you that:
"For the lovers of God may suffer adversity
and stumble seven times,
But they will continue to rise over and over again."
We may fall but what matters most is that we know who we belong to, how to get back up, who to run to, and have the courage to move forward and stay with God. When we keep choosing to team up with God on this, we will always rise above comparison. When we continue to seek Him in times of doubts, God will always be ready to tell you who you are in Him. When we choose to meditate on the truth in the face of trials, we will be clean but never empty and vacant.
As you continue to rise above comparison, you'll realize that friendships and girlfriends are becoming less complicated and competitive, and more reciprocal and legit.
So social media, huh? I am not saying it is a bad thing. When we start seeing social media as a medium of intentionality and connection, it becomes a place to provide inspiration than a source of comparison.
So, where am I in this journey?
Still journeying. I am with you in this too.