We hear from such a young age that we are all equal. We're not supposed to think about how well other people are doing because we all have different strengths, we're all smart, we all have purposes, and we're all beautiful in our own way.
But we still compare ourselves. Every day.
I mean, half the reason that girls spend so much time focusing on their appearance isn't because they want to impress guys (sorry boys). It's because they want other girls to think they have nice clothes/shoes/hair/eyelashes/nails/etc. We all want to hear "you look so pretty today!" or "where did you get your shoes?" or "oh my goodness your hair is perfect" because the positive reinforcement feels good. It encourages us and confirms that other people think we're 'good enough.'
We're afraid if we don't have the right hipster-looking outfits or a classy-but-not-too-fancy dress we'll get weird looks or not be part of 'the right crowd.'
I know these seem like problems that only happen in junior high, but that's not the way it is. So many girls have the same insecurities many years later, but the worries are just hidden and the judgement from others is more discreet.
It's such a struggle.
How many times have you seen a girl at school or in the mall or somewhere else and you just think "she has the most perfect hair" or "I love her outfit"? It's such a natural and easy thought. But the problem is that it automatically makes you compare yourself. You start thinking about your own hair and your own shoes and your own eyelashes and you wonder if other people think those things about you.
And then there's the profile picture problem. There are those girls who get hundreds of likes on their profile pictures, and it makes you wonder why you don't have that many. You wonder if everyone likes those girls better, and that maybe that's why you only have 43 likes. But why do we define ourselves by the number of likes and hearts and followers we get?! It doesn't even make sense.
We also overthink everything (example: we go from "oh that guy is cute" to "I wonder if he wants kids one day" within 8 seconds) and we can't even help it. We walk past a group of girls whispering and immediately wonder if they're talking about us. We say hi to a guy and then wonder if he thinks we're weird. We join a conversation and then wonder if we talk too much. And for me personally, I turn red when anyone looks in my direction even though I'm not embarrassed, but then I start thinking about the fact that I turn red and it makes me embarrassed.
If only girls could turn off their thoughts for a few seconds to get rid of the constant comparison and the obsessive overthinking.
This morning I was reading in Genesis 29. That's the chapter where Jacob goes to Laban's house and works for 7 years so that he can marry Rachel (side note: how amazing would it be to have a guy work for seven years just because he wanted to be with you?!). For those of you who don't know the story, Laban ended up not keeping his end of the deal, so on Jacob's wedding day it was actually Leah (Rachel's sister) who he ended up marrying. Leah wasn't the 'beautiful' sister that Jacob wanted (Leah had weak eyes), so he worked for another seven years so that he could marry Rachel as well, his first choice.
A couple months ago I read this story in my sister's children's bible, and it changed my whole entire view of the story. I always thought that it must have been frustrating for Jacob. I felt bad for him. I mean he worked so hard and didn't even get what he was working for! But in my sister's bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible) it highlights the story so differently.
It made me realize how hard it must have been for Leah, the unwanted sister. She probably compared herself to Rachel all the time . Her sister was the one with "a beautiful figure and a lovely face" (verse 18). She probably had a lot of insecurities. And it would have been even worse when she finally got married, only to realize it was a mistake because Jacob never wanted her. Or maybe she knew what was going on. Either way, if I was Leah I would probably not feel too great about myself.
The beautiful thing about the story is that it makes it so clear how God sees the unloved.
Not only did God enable Leah to have children, but her line of children would lead directly to Jesus, the Prince of Heaven. She was in the line of royalty.
God made her a princess.
Rachel was the beautiful sister. The one who was wanted. The one that Jacob worked fourteen years for. But Leah was the one who God saw, and chose to use in an incredibly special way.
So here is what I have learned about comparing myself:
It's completely pointless.
Our stories are all so different. We have different purposes, different eyes, different hair, different strengths. And yes, that is what we have all been told for our whole lives. But it's so clear from the story of Leah and Rachel that God uses us for those differences. Leah was the one He chose to be in the line of royalty, and it's because she was Leah. Not because she was Rachel. The story would have been so different without Leah in it. We are all needed for a purpose.
It doesn't change anything.
Where has comparison ever got you? Do you feel better about yourself after spending hours comparing your hair type to your friend's? Probably not. You feel unworthy and unwanted and not good enough for anything. If Leah did compare herself to Rachel, it didn't make a difference. God still used her for the purpose He made her for. She didn't become any different by comparing. So just choose not to compare. Focus on who you are in God. That's where your identity is found.
None of us are perfect anyways.
When we compare, we always compare what we think are 'bad' qualities to other people's 'good' qualities. "She's so outgoing and I'm so not." "She has perfect hair and I don't." "She's a size 2 and I'm a size 6." The problem with that is that everybody's opinion is so subjective. Of course you're going to see your own flaws. And of course you're going to see that other people don't have the same flaws as you. But they feel the same way! They aren't perfect either, and they criticize themselves just as much as you criticize yourself (whether they will admit it or not).
Above all else, you are beautiful.
You have beautiful eyes, beautiful hair, a beautiful smile.
Let yourself radiate with God's love. That is what stands out.
Let Him shine through you, and be the most beautiful you that you could possibly be.
Do not let a guy, a friend, a sibling, a stranger, or anyone ever define your beauty.
Your Creator is the Only One who has the right to tell you whether or not you are beautiful.
And He says that you are.
|Katie Cottrell Photography|
Her worth is far more than diamonds