The Comparison Trap

This is the second in a series of guest blog posts by Melissa Harrison, sharing how God has been using the book Self-Image: How to Overcome Inferiority Judgments by Dr. Lou Priolo in her life.

I was on the last quarter-mile when I saw them.

Two men on their bikes, probably about to take the same trail that I’d just exited. As I continued toward them, they began to laugh. My initial thought was that they were laughing at me. My shoulders tensed up almost immediately. But in spite of my reaction, I bid them each a “good morning” as I walked past.

In reflecting on my reaction in that moment, I realized two things: 1) I’d assumed the worst, and 2) I presumed they’d judged me as inadequate. But my reaction had also reminded me of something that a dear sister in Christ, one of my walking sisters, had said to me earlier in the week, “Melissa, then give them something else to remember you by.”

That conversation was the first time she and I had gotten together since my surgery about five weeks earlier. I’d asked her if she would meet with me to discuss of the book on self-image that I was going through, which suggested asking someone close to you their opinion of you. So, I proceeded to make a list of things that I perceived were “wrong” with me. After catching up for a few minutes, the two of us got down to business. I showed her my list of perceived “faults,” to which she offered me counsel.

A couple of things were practical, such as where to store toys for little ones when we have a family visit our home, and how to rotate things in the freezer so that nothing is wasted. The rest of the list shared a common theme, however, which was this: the comparison trap.

As I compared myself to other women, I found myself lacking. My good friend reminded me that if I believed that the Lord was sovereign—and I do—that I had to also believe that He not only has me where I am right now but, more importantly, how I am for a reason. My mom would often say when I was younger, “God don’t make junk!” She’s right, He doesn’t (Genesis 1:26-31). Indeed, if God Himself said it was very good, it must be true regardless of what my feelings may tell me.

There was one thing left on my “fault list” and I blurted out, “But I just hate my smile!” If I’m honest, my smile is the thing that I hate the most about my physical appearance. I feel like people judge me because of it, and that they judge Darrell because of it, too. I feel like it’s the only thing people notice about me. My friend then leaned forward and spoke these freeing words of life to me, “Melissa, then give them something else to remember you by.”

She was right.

As I pondered my friend’s words, 1 John 2:15-17 came to mind.  Verse 16 says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is in the world.” Everything that is on my fault list rises from one of those three things—lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Verse 17 gives me hope and reorients my purpose and affections, “And the world is passing away, and also its lusts: but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”

And where does this all lead me?

It leads me back to that morning when I gave those two bikers on the trail a smile. It leads me here to year 45 of my life and my recovery from surgery. It leads me here, where after we meet, I hope you can recall my encouraging words more than my smile. It leads me here, free to walk in the good works that God has prepared for me. It also leads me here to you, dear sister. Let me encourage you, and I’m preaching this to myself as well, we must view everything in light of Scripture—including our very selves.

Though I may not have the perfect smile, I can still “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Conversely, my being short in stature doesn’t excuse me from speaking the truth in love or from gathering together with the body of Christ.

Don’t fall into the comparison trap, my sister. No matter where or how you find yourself, embrace it!

I have.

This is 45 and this is me.

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