I recently read an article by Elisabeth Elliot in which she said, "It is for us women to receive the given as Mary did, not to insist on the not-given, as Eve did." Mary received God's call on her life. Eve looked at what she wasn't given, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and wanted it. When I compare myself to another, in a way I am wondering: Why wasn't I given that in the way that she was? A good starting point in reflecting on this is to accept what Elisabeth Elliot encourages us in: Receive what God has given you. This is lovely. A woman was created to receive- and our loving Father, who knows what we need, has given us good things! When a woman is distracted by comparing herself to others, she is unable to focus on receiving what God has given her.
My next encouragement then is to consider the unique woman God created you to be and what He has given, and is giving you, to receive. Take a moment to reflect on these questions:
How has God created you?
What gifts has He given you?
What call has He given you?
How can you receive what God gives you?
I believe that comparison can be a weapon of the evil one. Satan uses comparison to distract us from what God has given us and what He has called us to do. Satan uses comparison to cause division in our relationships with the women in our life. However, I believe that God has defeated Satan and given us power and truth.
No matter where you are in your struggle with comparison, my guess is that you can relate to one of the stages of comparison I have experienced in my life.
1. Physical appearance
3. Measuring up
As young women we are sometimes especially aware of our appearance. This should be a good healthy awareness, so that we can learn to take care of ourselves and care for our appearance. In this time of life though we often also compare our appearance to others. We are paying attention to how beautiful or not the other women around us are. And we are wondering, constantly measuring: Am I prettier than her? Am I smarter than her? Funnier? More popular? Why are we measuring? BECAUSE WE WANT TO BE VALUED. We are insecure and want our worth to be affirmed, so we try to affirm it ourselves by comparing ourselves with another. Remember that first truth: MY IDENTITY IS IN THE LORD. I need to understand that my worth comes from the Lord. I need to live as a new creation and learn to know myself as He sees me: His lovely daughter.
When I was in college my focus changed from outward appearance to inward beauty: Is my heart prettier than her heart? Am I holier than her? She is way holier than me! I experienced my college years as a grace-filled time to grow in my relationship with the Lord. Holiness and being set apart for the Lord was a huge focus for me, and slowly comparison crept right into that area of my life as well. Satan tried to discourage me with comparison. I had to remember that second truth: GOD GAVE ME MY SISTERS TO CALL ME ON AND ENCOURAGE ME. During college, I was called on especially by the women around me who knew and loved the Lord. By their example I was encouraged to begin praying daily and forming a deeper relationship with God. The witness of the way they lived their life as daughters of the Lord also encouraged me to make changes in my life and live fully for God.
Now, as a married, stay at home mom, I still find myself in the comparison boat as I examine whether I am measuring up to other mothers and wives. Am I doing as much as she is? The third truth: I NEED TO DO WHAT HE ASKS OF ME. God has given me a specific call. I need to listen to what He asks me to do and do it faithfully. I need to receive the call He gives me!
God loves you so much! He has given you good things. Know and receive what He has given you. We need to live with confidence in our identity as daughters of God. If we truly know our worth from the Lord we will not look elsewhere for it. The Lord wants us to be blessed by the women in our life and encouraged. He has a specific plan for each one of us and we need to discover what that is. We need to know what God is asking of us and focus on serving Him. Receive what God has given you!
Come Lord Jesus! May I know your truth and may it set me free. Thank you that my identity is in You! Help me to know this more and more and to live it out. Thank you for the women you have given me in my life to be my sisters. Help me to see them in this way. May I be an encouragement to them and be called on by these women. Thank you Lord for your call upon my life. Help me to know what you want me to do and to do it by your grace! Free the hearts and minds of all women from the lies of the evil one. Come with your power and truth. Allow my mind to be transformed by You.
- Stay tuned next week for Part 2! I will get a little more practical and talk about transforming comparison into something lovely. -
Jacqueline is joyfully married to her husband, Peter, and so grateful to be staying home with their two children. She attended The Ohio State University, where she studied Human Development, Family Science and Spanish. She became an active member of Saint Paul's Outreach (SPO), a Catholic group on campus. Being a part of SPO has shaped her understanding of and the way she lives out her Christian faith, especially with regard to daily prayer, scripture, relationships, continual conversation, community and relational evangelism. After graduating, she worked for YouthWorks-Detroit and later worked for Kairos. Jacqueline enjoys making her home smell like fresh baked bread or curry and eating both. In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors, exercise, play guitar, paint and read. She is passionate about building God's kingdom. Jacqueline resides in the beautiful state of Michigan and is a member of the Work of Christ Community, a community in the Sword of the Spirit.
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If you'd like to read the full article by Elisabeth Elliot that the quote was taken from, click here.