As I watched her from across the room, I thought she had to be perfect.
The way she dressed, the way she handled herself in public, watching her interact with other people---family and friends, all I could think was, “Why can’t I be more like her?”
To a certain degree, it wasn’t a completely bad thought. All of us can learn from godly people in our lives and follow them as they follow Jesus. The problem was that I took an unfortunate detour when I started devaluing myself next to her.
I’d moved from simply admiring her and wanting to emulate her to actually feeling inferior to her and wondering how I could have any worth next to a godly woman like her.
Slowly I could feel myself sinking into a shell of insecurity.
I could tell you everything that was wrong with me, every reason you shouldn’t like me, and every reason that God shouldn’t use someone like me.
Looking back, I can see that the wise thing would have been to talk to God, pray through my insecurities, shake it off, and move on with life.
This wasn’t my wisest moment.
Instead, weeks later, I still found myself wondering, “Why can’t I be more like her? Why do I have to be clumsy, bumbling, crazy ME when I could be graceful, demure, and put together HER?”
I was constantly criticizing myself thinking, “Why did you do that? Why did you say that? Why did you write that? Can’t you do anything right?”
Then, one day in the car, while I was once again replaying this thought pattern in my head, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me (quite sternly)
“Or…Maybe you could just be you. Maybe you could just live the life I’ve called you to live in the circumstances I’ve placed you and let Jesus shine through you.”
I’m not sure why those words in that moment struck me as so profound.
(It’s like hearing the old adage about “everybody else jumping off a bridge” and thinking “that’s genius, I never thought of it that way before”)
Still, no matter how crazy it seems those words from the Holy Spirit went straight to my heart like a laser beam through darkness.
Why not just be me?
Why not stop comparing myself to a woman that I barely knew and once again accept and even love the work God was doing in my own life?
Once again I was reminded of the verses in 1 Corinthians 12 that says, “Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.” (15-18)
I love the last part of that “God placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”
Maybe God didn’t want me to be her.
Maybe God wanted me to be me.
Maybe God has a plan for my life that requires the parts of my personality and the circumstances in my life that I would like to see changed.
Perhaps it’s time to remove the “maybe” from these sentences and accept that these statements are true. Not just about me---but about all of us.
As women, one of the most difficult traps we fall into is the deep hole of comparison.
If only I had her…… And we fill in the blanks from there.
We have an infinite ability to list all of our shortcomings, all of our faults, and all of the reasons that God can’t make anything good out of the messy fabric of our lives.
As we swim around in this sludge, we forget two very important things:
First, God specializes in making beautiful people and purposes out of the most unbeautiful and unlikely things. That’s the story of redemption: He takes all of our sin, all of our mess, all of our inadequacies, and all of our shortcomings and remolds and reshapes them into a beautiful testimony of His grace.
It’s actually in our weaknesses and through our weaknesses that He shows Himself strong.
When God created you and I, He had a unique plan and purpose in mind. Each of us has a unique kingdom destiny that He has called us to fulfill. As we were being shaped in our mother’s womb, He designed each of us with a unique personality, gifts, abilities, and even appearances exclusively for the purpose of fulfilling His plan for our lives.
We are exactly the way that God wants us to be so that we can do what He wants us to do.
Psalm 139:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Just as God created the woman across the room exactly the way she needed to be to fulfill His plan for her life, so He created you and I exactly the way we need to be to fulfill the purpose He has for our lives. That’s why it’s important that I just be me---using my own unique personality, gifts, and even my quirks to bring glory and honor to Jesus.
It’s why she has to be the woman God called her to be and you have to be the woman God called you to be---because that’s the only way all the needs of the kingdom are met.
The second thing I needed to remember is: None of us really know what is going on inside the heart and mind of another woman.
Who knows that the woman I was admiring wasn’t struggling with her own issues of insecurity or inferiority?
There’s even the faintest possibility (although it’s hard for me to imagine) that someone in another corner of the room could have been having the same feelings of admiration toward me. (Like I said, I find it really hard to imagine…but it is possible).
The point is that none of us really know about the struggles of another woman. We don’t know what she likes or doesn’t like about herself, what she’d like to improve, the obstacles she’s overcome or the hard work she’s put into being the woman she is today. Although there’s nothing wrong with being inspired to develop the Christ-like character found in another woman, the truth is that you can’t really know or understand her race.
You can only do the best job you can running the race that God has put before you.
Insecurity, jealousy, and devaluing the work God is doing in your life only serves as a distraction from becoming the woman God has called you to be.
As women who love Jesus and want to fulfill His plan for our lives, we need to make the choice to overcome the temptation to take this detour in life and instead obey the words of Jesus to Peter in John 21:22, “Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Or as the Holy Spirit said to me, “Just be you. Live the life I’ve called you to live in the circumstances I’ve placed you and let Jesus shine through you.”