Monday, February 07, 2011

Compared to Whom?

One of the things I've noticed that we women tend to do a lot of is comparing ourselves to other women.  This is especially true in the home schooling community, but I believe it happens in our churches, in the workplace, and among friends.  I don't know if men do it as much as we do, but I think it's a serious problem for Christian women.  We compare ourselves both favorably and unfavorably with other women.  We do this in the areas of looks, weight, house-cleaning, children's academic and extra-curricular success, personality, career, handi-crafts, and I'm sure many other areas.  We either look at someone else and then put ourselves down:     
"She's so much thinner/prettier/more stylish than I am!"
"Her kids are so smart and accomplished. Why can't my kids do all that?"
"She's so nice and has so many friends. I don't know how she does that."
"Her house is like something in a magazine. I wish mine looked like that."
"She knows how to sew/knit/crochet/smock/paint/you-name-it, and I don't."
Or we look at someone else, and then puff ourselves up:
"At least I'm not as fat as so-and-so."
"Her kid can't possible have done all of that. I heard he's failing math."
"She may have lots of friends, but they probably aren't all REAL friends."
"She must not spend any time with her kids in order to keep her house so nicely. At least I spend time with my kids." OR "Her house is a total wreck! What a slob."
"I know how to sew/knit/crochet/smock/paint/you-name-it, and she doesn't."
Why do we do this?  I'm not the only one, am I?  In my case it tends to be more the putting-myself-down side, as in, "I'm fat, my house should be neater, I don't push my kids enough, etc."  

Our culture fosters this attitude.  Just look at the magazines as you check out at the grocery store.  Better still, DON'T look at the magazines, since the women on them are totally photo-shopped anyway.  Comparing yourself to them would be a huge mistake.  But those magazines all focus on making us feel that we must compare ourselves to some man-made standard of beauty, intelligence, or accomplishment.
So, what to do.....
I talked to one of my friends on the phone today, and she was encouraging me to take every thought captive, even sharing with me a circumstance in her life where she has been struggling to take every thought captive.  This really is a heart-and-mind issue, one which gets at the root of our very being.  As a Christian woman, I need to see what God's Word says
about all of this:
2 Corinthians 10:12  Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.ESV
Ouch!  Without understanding!  That rather hurts, doesn't it?  Paul was speaking in the context of defending his ministry and teaching, but I think there is a principle to be applied.  If we are not to compare ourselves to others, then to whom should we compare ourselves?
Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  ESV
Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [1] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, [2] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ESV
Over the next days, weeks, and months I'll be concentrating on comparing myself to the only One who really matters. 


Ciao Babe, what's up? said...

Well said.

Bethany in mid-MO said...

Excellent post, Alice!

Bethany in mid-MO said...

And Happy Anniversary too!

Alice C. said...

Thanks, Bethany!