25 Jul Comparison and Steadiness
I have a good friend who decorated her dorm room in college with all kinds of things: pictures, paintings, dream catchers, a Relient K poster, quotes and Bible verses.
One particular thing stood out to me, though. It was a sheet of paper attached to the bottom of her mirror with a Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I remember seeing that quote on her mirror, and thinking it was a great little saying I should probably hold on to. Since reading it way back during freshman year, it has faded in and out of my memories from time to time. However, today it came to mind when I was in a store whose new advertising campaign is about how they don’t touch up their models in photos. But as I looked around at every photo in the store, I saw perfection. None of the models were the slightest bit overweight and their hair and eyebrows were perfect. I thought to myself that these pictures might not be changed, but that the people themselves were probably “perfect” before they were even photographed.
“My life has been marked by an ongoing struggle to see my body as beautiful, lovingly and uniquely created.”
My life has been marked by an ongoing struggle to see my body as beautiful, lovingly and uniquely created. There are parts of my body I feel good about, but other parts I don’t really care for. And as I get older I start to see more. There is a crease on my forehead from concentrating. There’s an ugly busted blood vessel on my thigh that looks like a blue piece of string wadded up under my skin. The words of the Steven Curtis Chapman song I sang in my elementary school talent show ring true: “The person in the mirror doesn’t look like the magazine.”
But as I sat there in the mall and watched people walk by, I quickly realized that I’m not the only one who doesn’t love something about my body. You can see it in the way people carry themselves. Those small actions that seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things reveal what we really think. Someone might hold a purse over their midsection to hide it or wear baggy jeans and crouch down while walking as an attempt to mask an uneven gait.
There are a lot of reasons I could list for why I struggle to see my body as wonderfully made, but I think they all boil down to the same thing: comparison. Comparison is a way we let all the influences from the world get to us. We listen to those voices, no matter how deep from hell they come. I see the “perfect” bodies of people around me, and I immediately compare myself. In my experience, comparison leads to chaos, disappointment, toxic self-focus, and anxiety, all of which I could avoid if I would just fight the thief.
“Comparison leads to chaos, disappointment, toxic self-focus, and anxiety, all of which I could avoid if I would just fight the thief.”
We all have a million influences. Our past, our wounds, our family and friends, and the voices of the culture we live in, just to name a few. But I’m learning it’s truly my choice to absorb all those influences and let them dictate my identity. Influences don’t necessarily make us who we truly are. Joy. Steadiness. Jesus Christ. That’s what makes us who we are.
My sweet college friend has taught me a lot in the six years I’ve known her, and she’s walked me through some of my deepest valleys. Simply observing her, all her uniqueness, all her quirks, all her shortcomings, all of her, has taught me that despite the many influences around us that tempt us to compare—that tempt us to see ourselves as anything than beautifully, fearfully, and wonderfully made—we can have a steady joy that comes from knowing we are loved more than we can ever imagine by the one who died loving us and now lives within the hearts of His people.
“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful…” Song of Solomon 1:15 (ESV)
“The Lord not only created your body, He has chosen it as His dwelling place, and as His instrument to be used for His good purposes.” Body Matters, p. 35
Hannah loves going for a drive, being by the water, and learning about anything at all. Getting a new stamp in her passport is her favorite feeling and she loves to sit on the porch on warm summer nights. She loves to make people laugh and cook them some supper. Hannah attends our Powdersville campus.