Comparison. We all do it. Have you ever noticed yourself scrolling through your social media and picking out features on different women that you wish you had? This woman’s hair, that woman’s legs, this woman’s abs, that woman’s butt. Now you’ve made your perfect woman so you decide to go after your new goals – those completely unreasonable, unrealistic goals you have now attached to your self worth. Then you make reaching said goals a non-negotiable condition of loving yourself. We’ve all been there at some point, setting ourselves up for failure. Maybe you’re there now.
Let’s talk about what you really want. Do you know? I mean, do you really know? Those goals we set for ourselves are highly driven by our society and media. So driven, that we might not even recognize that those ideas have literally been covertly planted in our minds as right or desirable. Deep down, though, those things don’t feel right. So when we are working our booty off (or at least trying to) and we start feeling like we just don’t want to do it anymore, when we feel so much pressure but no motivation to care anymore, that’s because we don’t really care about the things we are working toward.
We feel like we’re supposed to look a certain way, but when it comes down to following through with our commitment to our goals, we just can’t get behind them. Why? Because they do not match up with what our hearts know. Deep down, our souls recognizes the artificial nature of those goals and desires and it shuts us down. Every time.
Should we even care what we look like?
I mean, who am I to say either way? I believe that a question like that requires some serious soul searching to figure out why you want to look “better” and why you think you aren’t good enough the way you are. Obviously, health is important but we’re talking about physical appearance. This is such a tough thing to get a handle on because, man, we all want to look “good” and that doesn’t feel like a terrible thing. But our physical appearance can become such an obsession when we get in a habit of comparison.
Let’s be real, the only reason we want to look “good” is because of other people’s perception of us. What is “good” anyway? When I say these things to people I get a lot of defensive responses like, “no, I care because it makes me feel better when I look better” or “it’s not about what other people think about me, it’s about how I feel about myself.”
You guys. If everyone on the planet lost their eye sight tomorrow except for you, I have to believe that you wouldn’t give a crap what you looked like anymore. Can you honestly disagree with that? The crazy crash diets, the overkill workouts, obsessively checking the scale every morning – would we keep those up if no one could see us?
My struggle with comparison
What I’m writing here comes straight from my internal dialog. I care what people think about me. I do, to a certain extent, I care. Despite my literal lifetime of claiming that I couldn’t care less, I have always cared. Sometimes in my life I have cared and compared more than other times. Every day I have to remind myself not to care and ignore the impulse of comparison. Every time I start to feel the stress of comparison I have to coach myself out of it with the words I’m sharing with you today. It is ingrained in us from the time we are born to be worried about what other people think and to compare ourselves to the “ideal” body type, behavior, income level, career, families, marriages, lifestyles, and more. Seriously, I get it. We all struggle with this at some point and to some extent. Especially in today’s Instagram society.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for eating a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts a day and going to work in your pajamas. I don’t think it’s bad to want to look nice and put together. I try to look decent every time I leave the house. Buying cute clothes and fitting in those cute clothes is fun. But the way we look – weight, style, people’s perception of us – can consume our lives to the point that we would rather die than to be seen the way we look when we wake up in the morning or carrying the few (or more) extra pounds we gained during the holidays. These are definitely not the type of things God wants us to concern ourselves with and an obsession with those things is idolatry.
What happens when we operate from comparison
This isn’t how we are meant to live. So when you’re on day 9 of that no carb diet, your energy level is a strong negative 32% and you are thinking about how you seriously give zero you know what’s anymore about losing those few inches in your thighs, that’s when your brain starts searching for your “why.” “Hmmm, that’s interesting,” your brain thinks, “I’m coming up blank. Let me check with our heart.” “Nope, nothing here”, from the heart. “Soul?” “Yeah, I’ve got nothing”, says the soul. And just like that, your no carb diet is so last week.
When your foundation is comparison and what you think other people want from you, whatever it is that your building will come crumbling down every – single – time, without fail. Speaking of foundation, let’s take a look at where your true and ultimately fulfilling “why” and purpose comes from.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Psalm 139:14
The word “fearfully” in this verse is translated from the Hebrew “to inspire awe.” So there you have it. You were created to inspire awe. YOU are a part of creation, made in the image of God himself. And guess what, not one time in the Bible is it mentioned that you must be fit, trim, and beautiful by the world’s standards in order to fulfill your purpose in this world.
When physical appearance matters
Our appearance can sometimes be a hint to the condition of our health. That’s when we need to be concerned about the look our of bodies. Only as an indication that we should be aware of our inner health and wellness. I am a huge advocate for exercise and healthy eating. Those things can improve the quality of our lives tremendously because they improve our physical and mental health.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. We honor God by honoring our bodies and taking care of them. But if you exercise and eat healthy just because you want to look good and fit in, then I’m afraid those things will have the opposite effect on your life. You’ll have a negative relationship with healthy food and exercise because it will feel like a chore, not a gift. In turn, you’ll accomplish nothing. At least not long term or with any peace of mind.
You don’t have to live this way
Working in the fitness industry, I have seen people struggle with this more than anything else. Ladies, we cannot continue to attach our worth or purpose to the opinions of others or the standards of our society. Take care of yourself, watch what you eat and exercise regularly because your body is part of creation. The God of the freaking universe, the creator of all of existence, made YOU. So take care of you. If you were renting a house you wouldn’t trash it, it’s not yours. You’re going to make sure that house is taken care. Your body is the same. Not to mention the energy and clarity it will bring to your life.
I promise you that the way you look will never prevent you from fulfilling God’s purpose for you unless you are so stuck on the way you look that you cannot move forward with your life. In the grand scheme of things, the way you look is nothing. Absolutely one of the least important things on the face of this earth. Find your worth in your purpose, ladies. Fix your focus on your purpose and push through this world’s standards and expectations like the irrelevant, waste of time that they are. You are made for SO MUCH MORE than that.
Giving up comparison
You have probably heard that you should picture your audience naked to calm your nerves while giving a speech. I want you to picture your audience blind. Every person in your life who thinks you should look a certain way might as well be blind anyway for as far as they can see. Us too if we don’t shift our focus.
I want you to pretend like they can’t see you and I want everything you do to improve yourself to be because you are working on your purpose and being the woman God made you to be. That is literally all that matters. If you believe that, give up comparison and begin working towards that right now. As hard as it is to grasp and believe in today’s world, your worth and your purpose have nothing to do with the way you look.
How do we do it? We keep our hearts and minds saturated in the Word of God. What we study, what we listen to, what we watch – those things line up with truth. So when we hear or see things that make us feel like we need to compare ourselves to the next woman, we can immediately recognize that as a lie. We stand up boldly against those lies so other women can learn the truth too. The answer is, as always, staying close to Jesus. Knowing him means knowing yourself. Your strength and courage to face the lies of this world come from the Lord. Get close to him.