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How can I stop comparing myself to others?

It is really hard to admit, but sometimes when we look around at our friends, we feel like we just don't measure up. Do you sometimes wonder if you somehow missed the "greatness gene"? I know I do. I look on FB, Twitter, Instagram and see these incredibly happy people accomplishing incredible things, going on incredible vacations, giving time and money to incredible causes...and I'm like, "Well, here I am, reading my book in my sweaty workout clothes and wondering if frozen pizza for dinner is too much work."

Nobody takes a selfie when they aren't looking their best or doing something "incredible." In fact, sometimes the "incredible" is actually just the mundane spun to sound incredible. Someone posts a picture of a plate of food that is getting cold while they get the photo angle just right, then text about the exotic Pinterest recipe they made for their grateful family, and the people go, "Wow! Amazing!" (Full disclosure: I have done this very thing.) But I'm sure most people are like, "Um, you've got dinner. Like everybody else. Get over yourself." No one takes a picture of their Totino's Pizza and posts, "I made dinner tonight!"

Comparing ourselves to others is a very dangerous activity.

Occasionally, you may find yourself looking at kids in your school, neighborhood, church, etc. and start thinking they have talents, clothes, skills, advantages, opportunities, friends, or traits that you don't have (or will never have). And, in some cases, you might be right due to any given factors. The truth is, we are all going to be different in many ways—and not only is that OK, but it is by God's design.

When we look around God's creation, we see flowers of all different shapes, colors, sizes, scents, and purposes. Likewise, there is not only one kind of bird, but thousands, in all varieties of characteristics. Some are huge and majestic like the eagle who glides on massive wings, others are tiny and flap their wings at the speed of light, like a hummingbird. Some don't even fly! Some trees grow very tall, while others remain low to the ground. Some trees produce nourishment while others provide shelter.

God could have chosen to make ONE kind of each thing in creation, but He didn't. Variety is what makes everything work together. Variety makes life interesting and beautiful. When it comes to people, of course he wouldn't make only one kind of person! (See Romans 12:4-8.)

If we were all gifted athletes, who would sing? If we were all talented visual artists, who would discover cures for diseases? See where I am going? God created everything for a purpose—including human beings. The Bible says we are all uniquely and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God tells us He made us with a plan and purpose for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

God specifically designed you and created you to be who you are. He only made one of you, and you are the only one who has the specific plan and purpose He created you for.

God gave you skills and talents. Some may know from a young age what direction we are meant to go; others may spend a large portion of their lives discovering what that might be; yet others could spend time developing skills, traits, and experiences only to find they are meant to carry out God's plan in a totally unexpected way. Or any combination of things could happen in your lifetime.

Joseph in the Bible (the one with the colorful coat; Genesis 37) had a prophetic dream as a teenager that one day his many brothers and family would bow to him as a king. Like many teenagers might do, Joseph taunted his older brothers with this juicy information, and (surprise, surprise) they didn't like it (or him) too much! He spent the next several years in a range of very un-king like predicaments—getting thrown down a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned, and finally made into the king's dream interpreter. Not exactly the life Joseph envisioned for himself after that dream.

Yet all those years of working in a humbled capacity shaped a mouthy, obnoxious youth into the man God had created him to become. Joseph did end up becoming a wise, kind king. During a famine, when his family came to his palace, bowing before Joseph and seeking assistance from the brother they didn't recognize, instead of taunting them that his dream came true after all, Joseph was moved to humility and compassion for his brothers.

Biblical Examples of Flawed People Who Changed

The Bible has plenty examples of people who started out much differently than they ended up. Often, their lives didn't turn out the way they originally thought they would either. You won't find one flawless person. Yet God used them to do amazing things. God always, always uses people who have great difficulties to overcome before they can do anything that benefits God's kingdom. (HINT: That is literally everyone.)

  • Moses had a speech impediment and dark past (as a murderer).
  • Jacob was deceitful and tricked his brother into giving up his inheritance.
  • Esther was fearful and hid her Jewish heritage.
  • Peter pridefully claimed he would never deny Jesus, then denied Jesus three times.
  • David was a terrible father who shamed his raped daughter.
  • Jonah ran away from God and was mad that God was merciful.

Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, is the only person who has ever stepped foot on this earth who never sinned. Absolutely everyone else sins, struggles, and fails. You, me, your family, your friends, your neighbors—everyone.

What should you do when you compare yourself to others and feel inadequate?

Stop it! LOL I know, that's easier said than done, but ask God to help you stop giving in to the self-sabotaging practice of comparison. The Holy Spirit can help you to appreciate the gifts and talents that God gave your friends while also helping you discover and develop your own.

Those friends you are comparing yourself to? They also struggle and have self-doubts. They fail, they sin, they fear. They look at others and also feel they don't measure up. One of your friends may even look at YOU and think, "Why do THEY have it so good?" This is human nature.

Healthy Humility vs. Crippling Inadequacy

Realizing we aren't all that has good and bad consequences. Good—in that we rightly realize that we are sinful, we need a Savior, and we thank God for providing what we can't do on our own. Bad—because sometimes we cripple ourselves into inaction and social isolation because we lose sight of (or never find) the hope in Jesus that makes up the difference in our own shortcomings. When we take the time to study the Bible and pray, we come to a healthy humility. This is an understanding that, no, we aren't great at everything, yet God equips us to be enough when it comes to doing what He has planned for and purposed us to become.

Take heart. God is nowhere near done with you yet. You may not have it all figured out, but neither does most of the world. Learn about and love the God who created you. Build a relationship with Him. God created you to be the only you in the whole universe—flaws and all. He will reveal your purpose and equip you to ROCK IT in His perfect time. In the meantime, keep practicing!

TL;DR

God specifically designed you and created you to be who you are. He only made one of you in the whole universe, and you are the only one who has the specific plan and purpose He created you for. If you find you are comparing yourself with people around you, remember that they also struggle and have self-doubts, fail, sin, and fear rejection—same as you. Study God's Word and talk to Him, ask for a healthy humility, an understanding that, no, we aren't great at everything, yet God equips us to be enough when it comes to doing what He has planned for and purposed us to become.

By: Rhonda Maydwell

Rhonda is an author, wife, mother, and mentor. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in English and Religious studies. She loves studying God’s Word for truth and wisdom and uses it as a compass and roadmap for her own spiritual journey. Rhonda believes in sharing the Good News and the hope found in Biblical truths with others. She uses her writing and mentoring opportunities (often with a pinch of humor) to do just that.

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