One perk of my job is getting to spend a lot of time around women. These women come in lots of different varieties, which has exposed me to a wide range of life stages, struggles, wins and losses. The same arms that have hugged new mommies, newlyweds and go-getters have also held the grieving, lonely and broken. I think all women would agree that being a woman can be hard.
To varying degrees, we all seem to struggle with striving for some level of perfection that can never be attained. Consequently, when we fall short of perfection, we often grab on to comparison. We look to other women either to make us feel better about ourselves or to wallow in our shortcomings. When we do that, we turn to created things to bring satisfaction that only the Creator can provide.
The Danger of Perception
Comparison often plays itself out in the form of false perceptions. When our identity is not found in the Lord, filling in the blanks of another woman's life is a way to protect ourselves from our own perceived shortcomings. Especially in the large church setting, it’s been my experience that we know a few women and perceive the rest. Sometimes these perceptions are innocent and maybe even true; it isn’t realistic to think we can know everyone. But often, they are assumptions that we use to bring comfort to ourselves.
Perhaps we long for relationships with certain women; we compare ourselves with their friends and wonder why we haven’t made the cut. We may fantasize about being in a different friend group or Home Group than our own. First, we should examine why we’re experiencing this longing. Why do we want so desperately to be friends with this person? Most likely, our reason is itself a false perception. We fail to realize that these false perceptions are keeping us from creating and cultivating authentic relationships. The reason we don’t have that relationship we envy is because we’re so caught up in our comparisons. Being carried away by comparison reveals that our identities are not rooted in the Lord.
The Danger of Methodology
Comparison is not only confined to our perceptions, but also revealed in our methodologies. These are the ways in which we have chosen to order our lives and homes. They come in all shapes and sizes: parenting, health, career, etc. There are plenty of great methodologies rooted in biblical theology and conviction from the Holy Spirit. The danger lies in elevating methodology above theology.
Social media is a dangerous platform for this elevation. We churn out post after post about our own methodologies, while pointing out the inferiority of others. Social media has made it far too easy to self-publish our opinions without giving them sufficient thought. We post things for all to see without taking the proper time to consider how our words will affect others. This is often unintentional. Our methodology isn’t necessarily wrong, but before we know it, we have compared our convictions to those of others and have found ours to be superior. Exalting our own methodologies diminishes the value of another sister’s Spirit-led choices.
Sometimes we purposefully avoid face-to-face confrontations, choosing instead to engage in conflict on social media. We like to hide behind the computer screen as we critique and criticize. Above all, this reveals idolatry in our hearts. We’ve idolized our particular methodology instead of focusing on the theology in which it is rooted.
Perceptions and methodologies that lead to comparison produce pride, envy, self-loathing and even cursing (James 3:9-10). And to be sure, what is in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths—or keyboards (Luke 6:45).
The Necessity of Confession
Think back over your recent interactions with the women in your circles. Was there gossip or slander in your heart or words as a result of comparison? Did you envy what others had, wishing you had it too? Were you able to rejoice when you saw, heard or read about something good happening to a woman in your church?
Similarly, look back through the last several items you have posted on social media. Were they edifying? Did they build up the reader? Were your methodologies lovingly put forth, or were they rooted in pride and self-exaltation?
Sisters, where we have used our words and platforms to wound other women, we need to confess. Where we have exalted our methodologies and let our perceptions reign, we need to confess.
Thankfully, it’s Christ’s kindness that lovingly leads to our repentance (Rom. 2:4). It’s through the blood of Jesus that we can find forgiveness for our sins. It’s in His resurrection that we find hope in His return and restoration of all things to Himself. Do not despair; repentance and confession are evidences of the Holy Spirit in you.
Replacing Comparison With Kindness
Just as our words and actions can wound, they can also heal. Proverbs 31:26 says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
Because being a woman is hard, let’s endeavor to be in each other’s corners. Let’s combat comparison with kindness and encouragement. With the Lord’s help, we can use words of wisdom to bless our sisters and kindness to instruct them. We can use our social media platforms to encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thess. 5:11). Today, write a note, point out a strength, speak gospel truth to a struggling sister. Instead of perceiving, let’s strive to know the women the Lord has placed in our lives and pray blessings over those we only know from afar. For our collective good, let’s hold up each other’s arms as we seek to replace comparison with kindness.