I was in a car with a group of my college friends, and Jen was telling her embarrassing story about falling on her boyfriend’s ankle during a volleyball game. The ankle was sprained, the boyfriend was on crutches, and Jen was mortified.
I said jokingly, “What does it means if a 130-pound-girl can sideline him?”
Jen turned to me with instant horror and said, “I am not 130 pounds.”
Now it was my turn to be mortified. “Oh, sorry…” I said, with immediate embarrassment. I had not meant to offend Jen. I figured her to be about my size and I did weigh 130 pounds—which apparently was horrifying.
Over the next days, then weeks, I mulled over Jen’s response. There were times that I would recall her look of disgust and formulate a defensive argument, which I would present into my bathroom mirror: So what are you saying, Jen? Do you think less of me because I weigh more?
Other times I would recall Jen’s look of disgust and cringe, withering with humiliation. Is it obvious to everyone that I weigh more than Jen? Was I foolish to think we were the same size? What sort of fresh horror would coat Jen’s face if she found out what I weigh?
Now I must say, if the number “130” showed up on my bathroom scale today, I would probably dance with glee. That hasn’t happened in a couple of decades, but here’s what has: I’ve come to see measure-up comparison as a trap, which always pulls me back into me-focus.
It’s true that comparison starts with glancing sideways at a friend, a sister, or a stranger on Instagram. But invariably my attention returns to myself.
Not a Game
It’s interesting that we call comparison a “game” because our enemy thinks of it as a tactic to use against us. James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church, wrote a letter to some people who were comparing. In response to their jealous sideways glancing and their selfish, get-ahead agendas, James wrote, “This is not the wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (Jame 3:15).
In other words, these Christians were being influenced by wisdom—just not God’s. Friends, Satan is no dummy. He knows that if he can drive us to prove we measure up, or feel ashamed because we don’t, the last thing we’ll want to do is link arms together, roll up our sleeves, and get back to work serving the Lord.
Measure-up comparison distracts and divides us. It consumes our thoughts, eats away at our confidence, and keeps us from the life God intended. But thankfully, Jesus came to give us that life back.
When Jesus came, he encountered people who were comparing just like we do. He interacted with Pharisees, tax collectors, sinners and disciples who were all glancing sideways and measuring themselves. And how did Jesus respond to people who were elbowing past each other, or shrinking back in shame?
Jesus invited every single one to be part of his kingdom, where things stack up differently. It’s a place where lasts become firsts, and firsts become lasts. In Jesus’s kingdom the greatest is the servant, and the one who humbles herself will be lifted up. Jesus came modeling a life of great value in the kingdom. He invites us to follow Him and live as He did—emptying ourselves out and lifting others up.
This me-free living that Jesus invites us to is the only way to break free from the me-focused measuring of the world.
Three Me-Free Questions
Are you a Comparison Girl—always obsessing over a comment that someone made about you, or some detail that makes you wonder how you measure up? Do you long to sidestep the enemy’s comparison traps?
Here are three questions for the girl who wants to stop comparing and live me-free:
Am I just too focused on me?
When we compare, our focus inevitably boomerangs back to ourselves. Think of all the calories I burned, obsessing over what Jen’s comment implied about my weight. The truth is, Jen didn’t say a word about my weight; she reacted to something I said about hers. See how I took an offhanded comment and turned it into a self-absorbed obsession?
Next time, you’re tempted to stress, worry, or wonder, “How do I measure up?”, swap that question for this one and ask, “Is there a chance I’m just too focused on me?”
Simply asking the question takes the first set of plyers to the enemy’s chains of comparison.
How can I be vulnerable?
We usually keep our measure-up obsessions private. Whether we’re secretly enjoying the view from the top of the stack, or cowering in shame on the bottom, we prefer to do so from behind locked doors—which is where we become an easy target for the enemy.
Picture me there, locked in the bathroom, delivering my speeches to Jen in the mirror. What if I had chosen to make myself vulnerable instead, and shared my 130-pound inferiority complex with a trusted friend? Sometimes when we bring our measure-up obsessions out in the light and allow another Christian to speak truth, the situation shrivels up before our eyes. We realize how ridiculous it was to let our enemy taunt us with something so insignificant.
Measure-up pride will always keep us locked up in isolation. But if we humble ourselves enough to be vulnerable and invite help, it can turn the latch on freedom.
Who can I focus on instead of me?
We live in a measure-up world, full of likes, filters, and shares. Measuring ourselves and comparing is as natural as breathing air. But even though Jesus came to set us free, I think it’s interesting that he never said, “Come follow me, and I’ll teach you not to compare.” Instead he taught us how to start asking, “Who can I focus on instead of me?”
Me-free living is what guards us against me-first comparison. For when I turn my attention to lifting someone up, I naturally stop trying to lift myself up to be noticed. When I bend down to serve someone, I naturally forget to measure myself against her. When I put someone ahead of myself, I naturally stop trying to get ahead of her.
Christian Girl, are you tired of being consumed with measuring yourself against others? Jesus invites you to sidestep the enemy’s comparison trap and live me-free.
This post first appeared on the GirlDefined site. If you are a Christian Girl who wants to follow Jesus, you should follow Kristen and Bethany and their crew at www.GirlDefined.com or on Instagram! I’m super thankful for their encouragement and support.
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