Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Becoming a woman of no comparison

I recently finished listening to Daphne du Maurier's mysterious book Rebecca. The story is about a young woman of no importance, means, or value to society who meets and falls in love with a handsome, wealthy, and powerful widower Maxim de Winter. Amazingly to her, Maxim asks her to marry him after a whirlwind courtship and takes her back to his large estate called Manderley. The young woman, who is telling the story first person, spends much of the book feeling inferior to Mr. de Winter's first wife, the mysterious Rebecca de Winter who has died almost a year earlier. Rebecca, as she is portrayed through different characters' memories of her, was beautiful, accomplished, and loved by all who met her. Whereas in contrast, the new Mrs. de Winter (according to herself) is plain, unaccomplished, inexperienced, and painfully shy. Because of her personal comparisons to Rebecca, the young Mrs. de Winter (we never know her first name) is never truly comfortable in her role as wife. She and Maxim have many problems early on in their marriage. And of course, she is completely uncomfortable with being the mistress of Manderley...until the end, when we find out the true nature of Rebecca and her mysterious death (I won't ruin the surprise in case you decide to read it!).

What struck me about this story is how relatable the young Mrs. de Winter is to most of us. I mean we all compare ourselves to someone. Usually, it's other women who are in the same life phase as us (career, wife, mother, etc.). We look at that other mom and think, "She sure has it all together!" Or we look at the successful, career woman and think, "Wow! She's so smart and accomplished." That other young wife is prettier and happier with her husband. That mom's kids really behave/eat their vegetables/sleep through the night. This woman has a more important church ministry. That woman has a nicer house/car/etc. On and on and on we go....where we'll stop? No one knows!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my goals for 2013. I mentioned that one of my goals is to lose weight. Isn't that pretty much everyone's New Year goal?? :-) Anyway, I also mentioned that the biggest obstacle standing in my way is myself. The mental and emotional battles are the hardest to overcome. I think it's the same for most people.

And one of the biggest mental/emotional battles is the game we play of comparison. Except it's not a game. And it's very damaging.

Think about your goals. Why are they your goals? Is it because you've been comparing yourself to someone else? Do you feel like you have something to prove?

Women are lonely and hurting. We run ourselves into the ground with our extreme busyness. We are exhausted (believe me, I know! I have a newborn!). We do so much for others...and yet we still feel like we are not good enough. We feel like we will never live up to the standards placed on us by ourselves and others. We go through life lonely because we can never quite be open and vulnerable to potential friendships or intimate relationships. We're afraid. Afraid that if anyone knew the real us, we would not be accepted. We even begin to wonder if God can accept us. How in the world can we ever live up to His standards?? Yet we go on trying to prove to everyone and ourselves that we can do it all.

It's a slow, downward spiral. And one that many of us have experienced at one time or another. In fact, this was my own downward spiral just a few short years ago. I felt all of the things I mentioned above until I got to a point where I was angry and bitter. My anger quietly grew while I was unaware. If someone hurt my feelings or said something negative about me, I would tuck it away. Try not to think about it. If I felt some unfair standard was being placed on me, I would try to ignore the pain and frustration I felt. If I worked hard at something only to have it criticized, I would give up. And slowly but surely the quiet anger grew inside me. Until suddenly one day, I realized that I was very bitter. God was the one who showed me that day that I had unresolved anger in my heart, and that it was keeping me from becoming the person He wanted me to be.

Can I share with you what God showed me through all of this? What He's continuing to show me?

That my perspective was all wrong. That I was focusing on the wrong thing. That He just wants me to rest...to breathe. To relax. He wants me to stop comparing myself with others. He wants me to stop trying to live up to all these standards that are out there. To stop trying to prove my value to others...and to Him. Just let all of those cares and burdens that I take on myself drop to the ground. And don't keep picking them up.

He wants me to focus on His love for me. His grace. He wants me to see Him as my loving Father. That He's smiling down at me, and that He's pleased with me. There's nothing I can do to make Him love me any more or any less. My value to Him is priceless. I am His and He is mine.

Here's what I believe. Living the Christian life is not all about what WE can do. It's not all about how WE can become better. The key is instead to try to get a glimpse of who God really is and what HE can do...to sit at His feet as Mary did and stare in wonder at His face. To see Him in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son, who gave up everything...everything...for us.

If we could discover even in the tiniest ways God's powerful love and grace for each of us...if we could experience it on a very real and personal level, I believe our lives would be changed. We would never again compare ourselves to others. There would be no need, because our hearts would be full. We would know true acceptance and love. We would know forgiveness. We would know peace and joy. We would not be afraid. We would go forth victorious! And those goals? We would have the right perspective about them. And we'd know that because of Him, we can accomplish those things.

The title of this post is a bit misleading. Rather than becoming a woman of no comparison in the sense that we are the best and no one else can be compared to us (or striving for that), let's focus on becoming a woman who does not compare herself to others. And who does not compare others to herself. Who accepts and loves others as she herself has been accepted and loved by God. Who extends the same grace she has received to others.

Let's focus on these things as we start out this year's journey and as we work toward accomplishing our goals in 2013.

Blessings, friends!





2 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite books! I'd never made this connection though to comparison. This is something God has been working on in me as well. Of course one of my resolutions is to lose weight and He has been teaching me to want to do it for my self and for Him (He wants us to be healthy! we are His temple! gotta take care of it!) and not for others. Great thoughts! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete