People’s experience of you is not who you are.
Many people think comparison causes insecurity, which is why many self-help and self-esteem books try to use positive affirmations to help you stop comparing yourself with others. But affirmations don’t work long-term because they don’t address the root of the problem.
Comparison does not cause insecurity; comparison results from insecurity.
Insecurity causes comparison because when our identity is secured to the unstable, ever-changing opinions of others, we think the only way to increase our value is to become whatever they think we should be.
- Your mother says, “Your sister always does so well in math. Why are you struggling?” You respond by setting your sister’s performance in math as the benchmark for academic success.
- Your friend says, “Maybe more squats will make your legs more toned like Barbara’s.” You respond by setting Barbara’s muscular legs as the benchmark for fitness success.
- Your husband says, “Your mother takes such great care of your father. She irons his clothes and always has a hot meal ready.” You respond by setting your mother as the benchmark for being a good wife.
You begin to secure aspects of your identity based on the good things people say about others and then measure how far you are from their standard.
To please your mother, friend, husband, and manager, you give their voices credibility in your heart. You believe what they say and compare yourself to the ideal person in hopes of being more like them.
God, on the other hand, says this:
- [You are] fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
- Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5)
- People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
God says all this without the qualifier of comparison, which raises the question, “Which voice will we believe?”
The voices of other human beings or the voice of God?
Insecurity emerges when we believe the voices that diminish our value in comparison to others. Security and insecurity both begin with the voice we choose to believe.
The voice we believe becomes the voice we obey—whether people’s voice or God’s voice—and the voice to which we ultimately secure our identity.
*For further reflection, listen to Psalm 139 today.
- Psalm 139
Taken from Killing Comparison by Nona Jones. Copyright © September 27, 2022 by Nona Jones. Used by permission of Zondervan.com.