Unfortunately, it’s a problem every woman in the world has experienced at some point.
We hear we shouldn’t do it but we do.
We hear it will steal joy but it doesn’t stop us.
And we hear we should be happy with what we have and even if we think we are, it makes us doubt.
When we compare, we look sideways at those around us instead of looking up to the God who tells us “You’re mine.”
We focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do.
And we fall into a trap of “it’s never enough” because there will always be someone who’s prettier, smarter, wealthier, funnier, and cooler than we are.
Chapter Nine of Unglued is entitled “The Empty Woman” because, as Lysa says on page 132, “The more I compare, the emptier I become.”
The emptier we become through comparison, the more we are filled with jealousy.
As Lysa furthers explains on page 132, ” According to a Yale University study, social-comparison jealousy occurs when three conditions are present: 1) a person received negative personal feedback, 2) in a domain of life that is important to them, and 3) they believe another person is performing successfully in that same domain. Those in the study who experienced social-comparison jealousy were found to disparage the other person and experience feelings of depression and anxiety.”
Here’s what else we know about comparison and jealousy:
1. Comparison steals celebration.
2. Comparison and jealousy feed us so many lies we believe and eventually, our most precious relationships are negatively impacted.
3. Comparison and jealousy cut so deeply that eventually we bleed out and become completely empty.
So how do we end this crazy train? How do we stop comparing ourselves with others and celebrate their accomplishments instead of viewing it as a threat?
Let’s look at Galatians 6:4-5:
“Each one should test their own actions. They can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
Let’s look at those last few words: each one should carry their own load.
My load is different from her load. She’s carrying stuff God’s give her to carry and I’m carrying stuff God’s given me to carry.
Our loads contain different stuff and we all carry them at different times. It’s His plan for us and they’re all as individual as we are.
Once we understand this truth, we can focus on 1) seeing ourselves the way God sees us, 2) carrying our own unique loads and celebrating the loads others are carrying and 3) carry love to others by encouraging them to carry their own loads well.
In other words, we become secure in the load we carry and we cheer for the other load-carrying women.
Comparison and jealousy can infiltrate our thoughts, leaving us jumping to untrue conclusions and stinkin’ thinkin’.
On page 144, Lysa says, “We are to park our minds on constructive thoughts, not destructive thoughts. Thoughts that build us up, not tear us down. Thoughts that breathe life into us, not suck life from us. Thoughts that lead to peace, not anxiety.”
But how do we do that?
Chapter Ten includes three questions to ask yourself when you feel those nasty thoughts eating away the truth:
1. Did someone actually say this or am I making assumptions about what they’re thinking? Sometimes we can assume others are thinking something they really aren’t.
2. Am I actively immersing myself in truth? If we don’t spend time in God’s word, our thoughts become like sheep – they get distracted and stray easily.
3. Are there situations or relationships that feed my insecurities? If some relationships or situations feed our insecurities, maybe it’s time to take a break from them.
Speaking of thoughts . . . One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:2. Here’s the NIV version:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
But now read the same verse from The Message:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Yes. God brings the best out of you and develops well-formed maturity.
I’ll take it.
So here are the questions to reflect upon today (answers can be left in the comment section_
1. In what area do you/did you struggle with comparisons? If you have worked past this struggle, what worked for you?
2. Why do you think we live in such a comparison-obsessed culture?
3. On page 148, Lysa says, “I’ve discovered that the more love and joy I pour into others, the more I experience in my own life. But I have that overflowing joy – that super-abundant joy – only when I focus on God’s truth and His Word.” Have you experienced this? What did this teach you?
4. Share anything else that captured your attention from Chapters Nine and Ten.
Just one more week until we are finished with Unglued . . . Stay tuned – we’ll announce our next study next week!