for women only

What do all these women have in common? 

Women who are mums, women who are missionaries, women who are missionary mums, women who are making a difference in their workplace, women in church leadership.

Did you spot it?

Well they’re all women, yes. They’re all friends of mine. And they have all, at one point or another, struggled with the same thing.

What is it?

Comparison

 Comparison is something I have battled with on and off for years. Same problem, different issues. So in my teenage years it was all about looks and appearance. A few years later it was people who were married, or who had better jobs. More recently I have compared myself as a mother, a homemaker, a leader, even a disciple (oh, the irony). And the next step on this destructive journey is to start comparing my kids.

It is completely debilitating. Utterly paralysing.

In order to compare with another we make judgements. Often they are silent and internal and so all the more dangerous because of this. We make judgements of where we think we are in the pecking order. We judge the subject of our comparison and either conclude that we are superior or inferior. The former leads to pride, the latter leads to condemnation. It’s a lose-lose.When we make judgements we distance ourselves from those we are comparing ourselves to. It’s harder to be vulnerable, the barriers go up as we try to preserve our self-esteem. And we also distance ourselves from God as we try to seek our identity aside from Him.

When we compare, we are aware of our lack. What we don’t have. Or what we have, but don’t have in as greater measure. The gaps, the deficiencies.

Other women become our competition rather than allies.  Have you ever walked into a room and felt a chill in the air? Some of the “frosty” behaviour women can exhibit is a “fruit” of  comparison. If it was something we confessed to each other, and to God, we could create a very different dynamic. Sisterhood rather than rivalry, love instead of fear, encouragement instead of critique.

When was the last time you heard someone openly confessing envy?  It’s not something I readily admit. Envy is another “fruit” of comparison. I like to think I’m past the stage of envy and comparison. But it continues to lurk it’s ugly head at some of the most unlikely moments.

I know why it continues to lurk.

I haven’t completely nailed sonship. Or rather daughtership. I haven’t fully taken hold of the fact that I’m a daughter of the most wonderful Father I could ever dream to have. For much of the time I act like an orphan, not a daughter.  The orphan lives with a hole in their heart they are trying to fill. The daughter knows the pure, fulfilling , and complete love of the father.  The orphan never feels good enough, and somehow needs to prove their worth, measuring it against  another. The daughter knows in her heart that she is good enough, simply because the Father made her, knows her, loves her.

 

 I would love a few brave women to share a little of your experiences.

What have some of your struggles been with comparison, how you have overcome it or are in the process of overcoming it.  Feel free to write in the comments section or if you have a longer story please email me at mrsarobbo@yahoo.co.uk

posted by Anna

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14 thoughts on “for women only

  1. I think my struggles with making comparisons are much the same as you’ve listed here and I’m sure most women would say the same. Here, you’ve identified both the effects and the cause of these judgements:
    EFFECTS: “the barriers go up as we try to preserve our self-esteem. And we also distance ourselves from God as we try to seek our identity aside from him.”
    CAUSE: we “haven’t fully taken hold of the fact that [we’re] a daughter of the most wonderful Father.”
    That’s enough for me to ponder on for a while! Thank you x

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  2. I think that as women we have this great ability to sense and discern our responses to one another, but instead of using it as a gift to appropriately encourage each another, we let our awareness of how other women are feeling dictate how we see ourselves. I’ve been in situations where I’ve sensed other women feel threatened when I’ve shared something good that’s happening in my life and it’s made me feel let down because I want my friends to be pleased for me. I’ve also been in situations where I’ve desperately tried to have the right, positive response to someone else’s success, when all I could think internally was ‘why can’t I have that in my life.’
    I think Katherine’s right that it’s about knowing more of our identity as a daughter of the King. But I also think that the more we take hold of that identity the less our relationships revolve around us. It’s no longer ‘me and my feelings’, ‘my success’. Instead we become more focussed on those around us and able to enjoy what God’s doing in other people’s lives, without it shaking our identity.

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    • thanks Helen. Helpful reflections – especially love what you put here “I also think that the more we take hold of that identity the less our relationships revolve around us. It’s no longer ‘me and my feelings’, ‘my success’”

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  3. I know I am a bloke Anna, but just wanted to say how refreshing it is to read something like this. I am delighted that people are being real as it’ something I feel very passionate about myself.

    I pray that many women will be blessed by this and similar courage to start sharing about their difficulties. Bless you Anna..

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  4. Sorry that should have said, I pray that many women will be blessed by this and find similar courage to start sharing about their difficulties.

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  5. Hey Anna,
    I can definitely relate to what you and others have written. Only this week I have struggled with jealousy of others and their homes, relationship with God, marriage, appearance….
    I remember a particular time when I struggled with comparison with my brother (he said I can mention this), he would talk enthusiastically about his dreams and plans for the future and I would feel anxious and insecure about where I was going in life. The problem was, it was very hard to encourage him and celebrate what God was doing in him.
    Eventually, I shared this struggle with him and apologised for feeling jealous…The risk was that he may have felt uncomfortable sharing things with me in the future and hold back… He was really surprised and spoke of how he also viewed me as someone with passion and direction and often felt unsure himself and needed to be encouraged. I felt sad that I had missed opportunities to encourage him along the way.
    This showed me that we can have wrong perceptions of others when we put them on some kind of pedastal. I can think someone is all sorted and even secretly take delight or feel relieved when I find out that this is not the case.
    I long to be secure in the knowledge that in Jesus I am loved and accepted and I don’t need to compare myself with others (even if it can temporarily make me feel better about myself)…
    The tricky part is knowing how to take to hold of that identity as a daughter…any tips? xxx

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    • thanks for your honesty Sarah. I think some of what Pip has put in her comments is a way to tackle this stuff.
      Quoting Pip below ” So I have to choose to open my heart to Him, to confess where I’ve believed a lie and desired something that glistens but is not His glorious gold. I have to learn that His love is unconditional and that there’s nothing I can do to earn or lose His good gifts. And I choose to celebrate with and for others when something good happens, because I’m choosing to believe His truth that He has great things for me”
      It’s beginning to hear His voice that defines us rather than looking around us, or within us.

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  6. I struggle with comparison and envy too. When I look at what other women have and I don’t there’s usually disappointment and resentment that things don’t match my desires and expectations. I start to list the reasons that I deserve it because I’m more this or less that and it just doesn’t seem fair that she has what I want but I don’t! Which means I’ve forgotten that God gives good gifts out of unconditional love, not as a reward for getting it right. It shows that I don’t trust that God knows the desires of my heart and keeps His promises.

    It talks in Romans 1 about exchanging the truth of God for a lie. In the Message the passage reads: “They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us.”

    I don’t want that! I forget that often his best for me does not look like the things I think are good or arrive when I think they should. And I’d really rather have his best than my good. I want the true God with His real gifts in His good time. I want life to the full and not just life. I don’t just want water (which will keep me alive and quench my thirst) – I want His water of life and the wine that He turns it into. I want to trust that He will give me SO MUCH MORE than I can ask or imagine, even if I have to wait.

    So I have to choose to open my heart to Him, to confess where I’ve believed a lie and desired something that glistens but is not His glorious gold. I have to learn that His love is unconditional and that there’s nothing I can do to earn or lose His good gifts. And I choose to celebrate with and for others when something good happens, because I’m choosing to believe His truth that He has great things for me.

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    • thank you pip. I think that what you have written towards the end helps us have more of an idea of how to take hold of our identity as daughters of our heavenly Father.

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  7. I can so relate to the subject matter of this post. My husband is ill (and has been for 10 years) so I have to look after him, our 4 year old son and work full-time which leaves very little time for me to do anything else. I often find myself (somewhat destructively) comparing my life to those of my friends and longing for things to be different. I always wanted two kids and to be able to work part-time so I could take Alex to school, for example.
    It is all to easy for me to turn around and judge other women as having a life that is so much easier and better than mine, but who am I to make that judgement call? If God is in charge of my life then I should look to Him and not compare my life with others, behind closed doors they may be struggling in many different ways that I know nothing about.
    My Gran always quotes the passage from Romans to me: Romans 8: 28 ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ and she adds on at the end ‘even if we don’t understand it at the time’. I have to remind myself of this on a daily basis and to remind myself that God has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”) and I need to trust in Him and His plan and not to compare His plan with my hopes and dreams or with His plan for other people. It is a daily battle for me, but I choose to believe that despite the difficulties on the way there will be something wonderful in His plan for my life and to celebrate with others when things go well for them.

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  8. thank you so much for writing this Caro -it sounds like life is really tough for you. Choosing to believe that “God works for the good of those who love him” can be really stretching at times, and we can only do it by constantly looking to him. Keep running the race..you have a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on.(Heb 12:1) much love to you xxx

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