Many of you have written that your beauty is an area where you are prone to believing lies.
Molly wrote, “ok well I’m tall and I get made fun of for it and I hate it. I have to keep telling me that it is a good thing to be tall but it is hard when everyone is laughing at you and calling you name for it. Any advice?”
Bri Anna wrote “Well I can relate to the whole appearance/ no boyfriend thing because I struggle with it myself. I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t need a boyfriend and that I am beautiful just the way God made me. I am learning to accept myself for who I am and that God makes no mistakes. So anonymous…hold on. God loves you and that’s all that matters.”
Britttney pointed out that one source of our struggle in this area is the standard of beauty we see portrayed by celebrities. She wrote, “I think that the reason girls think they are ugly, and fat is because of the models and celebrities on the cover of every magazine…”
We do feel the need to compare don’t we? Often that comparison leaves us feeling like we don’t measure up. When we start to use others as our standard for beauty and worth the results are often disastrous.
I bet you’ve played a version of the comparison game. Maybe you are constantly judging whether or not other girls are smarter than you, or more popular or more athletic. Maybe you find yourself in constant competition with an older sibling or the flawless celebrities that grace every magazine cover. Maybe you’re always on the lookout to see who is taller or shorter, better or worse dressed or more or less talented than you.
The irresistible need to compare seems to be a part of our fabric as women. In fact, most girls are masters at the art of comparison. The world around us urges us on. Magazines are a paper format for comparison. For around $4 an issue you can see who is better or worse dressed than whom, who is fatter or skinner than the noteworthy stars around them or how celebrity marriages stack up to the competition. You can take quizzes to see how smart, funny, or romantic you are. But the question is, compared to whom? And while it’s true that we all compare, most of us have noticed that it leaves us feeling unsatisfied…or worse. Often times, our comparisons leave us deeply wounded. Playing the comparison game is a dangerous trap.
This trap has been carefully set by our Enemy. He knows that comparing ourselves with others leads to feelings of discouragement, inadequacy and jealousy. He knows that if he can turn our focus toward those around us, he can easily distract us from the standards of God. One of the most powerful weapons in his arsenal is the sense that we are alone in these feelings. That we are the only one reacting this way. That no one else feels like they just can’t seem to measure up. Let’s face that lie right here together. Our need to compare wasn’t born in the 21st Century. It isn’t simply a result of media that pushes a version of beauty that is impossible to obtain. The Enemy has been setting this trap since the beginning. A return back to God’s Word shows us that many have been ensnared, often with terrible results. But once again we see that the keys to these chains come from God’s truth.
If we head back to the Garden we find Satan up to the same old tricks. The snake slithered in and convinced Eve to start comparing herself to others, specifically to God. This was dangerous indeed.
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4)
“You will be like God.” “What you are isn’t good enough.” “You need to be more like someone else.” These are the foundations of this lie. Eve had all she needed but as she looked around and noticed that God possessed knowledge that she did not, she let her heart play the comparison game and a nibble of sin followed shortly after.
Why is comparison destructive? Why would Satan tempt us to compare ourselves to others? The answer is clear when we study the results. In every single story of comparison in the Bible, comparison led to a focus on the wrong standard. Eve let a serpent define what was good for her instead of trusting God’s standard for what was best. The results were immediate and painful. She lost her home in the garden. She lost her intimacy with God. She scarred her legacy. Her son made a similar choice. Cain forgot to be grateful for the favor he did receive from God and focused on what he thought he was missing. He lost control. He sinned. He lost his brother.
Sarai put her hope in what she could create. Instead of resting on the promise of God, she tried to grab good things for herself. God’s standard for her life was better, his promises were enough, but comparisons muddied the waters. God’s blessings on King Saul’s life were many. Instead of being grateful, he was jealous. In the end it led to destruction. Jesus had enough love and purpose and ministry for all twelve disciples, but they wanted to establish a pecking order. They set out to outdo each other and forgot to focus on pleasing their Lord.
When we compare ourselves to siblings, to friends, to celebrities, the results are the same. God is our standard. He is our creator and his affirmation of our value is worth more than riches untold. When we seek the applause of man, instead of Him, we are focusing on the wrong standard and settling for a cheap substitute.
Note: Portions of this blog come from Erin’s book Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves set to be released this summer.