If you struggle and find yourself comparing your story to someone else's story, you're not alone. Approximately three scrolls into Instagram, I all too quickly sink into thinking things like:
"You really should be doing more ab workouts. Or just workouts in general."
"If you took more time to get ready in the morning, your makeup could look like hers."
"Your thrift store tank tops do not even come close to that woman's wardrobe."
"She's so much holier than I am."
"She has everything I want and she looks so happy."
It's then that I have to check my thoughts and ask myself "What am I looking for here?" Because my sisters' success is not my failure. My story will never be exactly like hers - thank goodness. If it was the same story, the world would miss out on the beauty that my life brings.
As women striving after the heart of Christ, we can rejoice in each other's lives without questioning the goodness of the God who holds both of our lives in His hands.
So what are some concrete things you can do when you feel the temptation to compare your story to your sister in Christ's story? Here are three practical tips that I've implemented in my own life to fight against the sneaky lies of comparison:
Log off for a while
"If your Instagram account causes you to sin, log out of it for a while. It is better for you to lose some of your social media followers than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your Pinterest board fills you with jealously, uninstall the app on your phone. It is better for you to miss one or two pins than to have your whole body go into Gehenna." (Mark 5:29-30 . . . ish).
With how tech-orientated our world is today, it can be easy to be swept away and never log off anything at all. Ever. If you (like me!) find yourself being tempted to compare your story to others or struggle with jealousy every time you click on a certain app on your phone, log off it for a while.
It sounds simplistic, but logging out of Facebook on my phone browser makes me stop and think before punching in my password. I stop and ask myself what I'm looking for - do I have a purpose for logging on, or am I just wanting to waste time? Am I using social media as an escape from the 'real world'? Will I find myself sitting there 20 minutes later with a head full of lies or a heart full of truth?
Call out truths in your life
Just like we have to call out the lies of the devil whispers in our ear, we also should revel in the truths that the Father sings over our lives. I first heard of this idea when listening to the Abiding Together podcast.
What are ways that the Lord has made your story beautifully unique? What are characteristics He's given you, gifts He's blessed you with, that make you you?
Call them out. Write them down. Talk to a friend about them. Those unique unrepeatable aspects of your personality aren't accidental - they were planned by the Father since the beginning of time. He knows that I dip my french fries in my frosty and that sometimes I just need to get in my car and talk to myself out loud to process things.
The truths that make you who you are aren't accidents - they're intentional ways that God has made you. So rejoice in those truths!
Don't be ashamed of your story
When I compare my story to the story of other women in my life, I'm tempted to think one of two things: a) My story is too much and if people knew the reality of my heart, they'd reject me, or b) My story is not enough and I don't have anything to offer in comparison to the stories being shared around me.
Neither of those lies do my story justice. I'm enough. I'm not too much, and I'm not too little.
"Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, to even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now," Henri Nouwen wrote. "We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!”
Your story isn't her story - and that's okay. Your story is the one that our good, good Father is writing. It's a story where He shows up and keeps His promises - and, believe me, He's the best story-writer.