We compare our appearance, our education, our children, and our spouses. We compare our recipes at church potluck dinners and the decor in our homes. In nearly every woman's mind is a small voice asking
"Why can't I cook like she does?"
"Why are my children the only ones acting up?"
"How does she get her hair to do that?"
"When will I get my act together and get my house decorated like hers?"
"Why did she get credit for her project, but I didn't get any for mine?"
The devil has used this issue to harass and discourage me for as long as I can remember and I have followed him down that rabbit hole more times than I would care to admit. At what point did I stop listening to God's message of love and encouragement and begin hearing nothing but the voice of the enemy whispering messages of discouragement? How did I let myself become so deceived about what God really asks of me?
I blame adolescence. Hormones, high school, and home problems. That's the point where I stopped listening to the loving encouragement of my family about my true identity and started taking a serious look at the other females around me and how much better they were than me at just about everything. It makes me laugh to look back at it now, because I realize that most of them were looking around thinking the same things. We were all awash in the sea of adolescent anxiety, with its 50 foot waves of hormones, and rational thought was swamped! Surrounded by that intense experience of not measuring up, many of us began using the same defense mechanism--putting the others down through criticism and gossip in order to make ourselves feel better.
If those kinds of choices ended with high school, it probably wouldn't be so bad, but often that way of coping with comparison goes on for decades, ruining friendships and leading to superficial relationships in every area of life. Comparison becomes a way of life; a slow spiral downward of negativity and discouragement.
This is not the life God chooses for me, as His daughter. He speaks to me in the same voice he used with the Woman at the Well (John, Chapter Four), the Woman caught in Adultery (John, Chapter Eight), and Martha (Luke, Chapter 10). He offers encouragement based on truth. He doesn't condemn my mistakes; He encourages me to acknowledge them and then move past them. I can stop falling into the comparison trap when looking at the women around me. I can see each of us as who we really are. I am not a Barbie doll--perfect in a superficial, manufactured kind of way. I am His--and that is enough. That is the truth about who I am--I am chosen and I am loved; I am forgiven and I am redeemed.