Thursday, March 15, 2012

comparison & perfection

Comparison kills.  I heard it described once (and I'm totally paraphrasing) that if a girl walks into a room with other girls around she will automatically compare herself to all of those girls.  She'll eventually end up deciding that she is equal to some, better than others, and not as good as some too.  The sad thing is that this is all too true. 

What is it that makes us do this?  Girl or not, I'm sure everyone has struggled with comparing themselves to others when it comes to their relationship with God.  This too is a grievous thing.  We start to analyze our relationship with God and then we see others who we think are better at it than we are, and we get discouraged.  Suddenly, this newly established standard of "near-perfection" is unobtainable and results in a few different responses.  We can become despondent and apathetic, thinking that our faith will never be that great or that inspiring and we slide down the slippery slope of self-deprecation.  We can become angry and frustrated, blaming God for our own lack of zeal and motivation.  We can become drastic, thinking that, at this point in time, we are not what we should be so therefore we never will be, which can lead to giving up.  Or we can see the inspiration that someone elses walk with God can be, latch hold of it, and use it to fuel a desire for deeper devotion to the Lord.

This last option is of course the best response, but isn't always the easiest.  There have been so many times in my life that I've seen someone else react to a bad situation with such hope and strength that I've been tempted to respond like the prior three.  There have also been times where I've gotten to know someone and thought, "I wish my faith was as deep and genuine as theirs - I fear I'll never be that devoted to God".  It's easy in those situations to compare my situation or my faith with theirs but what a ridiculous thing to do.  If I were to be advising myself in the situation I would have said something like, "Really?  You're comparing your faith to someone who has been a Christian for at least 10 years more than you?". 

When I really stop to think this through, I almost laugh (almost) because, no matter the situation I'm in, someone has probably gone through something similar to it and more than likely they responded poorly the first time.  I hype these things up in my mind and think, I'm hopeless because my first response wasn't what it should have been.  Praise God I even recognized that it was a poor response!  The right reaction and response, I believe, comes from responding poorly the first time.  This may not be the case in every instance, but how do we as humans learn?  We fail, and then we adjust the next time by His grace. 

I am saddened to see myself fail or to see others fail as well, but that doesn't mean there isn't hope for the future!  When we compare ourselves to others we are setting a standard for us that God never intended.  I think we forget one BIG truth that supersedes all of this - Who should we really be comparing ourselves to?  Christ!  And, if we all were compared with Him, we'd all fall short (Romans 3:23) so that puts us all in the same sinking boat!  It's only by God's grace that any of us is saved or that any of us can respond in the correct manner and that is a huge relief!  When we realize this, we are no longer convicted by others faith that seems 'greater' than our own but instead we are inspired. 

I guess this has just been heavy on my heart recently.  My eyes have been opened by conversations with women who I would have initially thought were perfect but, when it comes right down to it, struggle with the exact same things I do.  It's a danger when we feel as if we need to appear like we have it all together.  It creates this false sense of security for ourselves as well as a false image for others.

The only Perfect One is Christ.  By His grace He has allowed some to be a little 'further along' in their walk and that should never been seen as a hindrance but rather an encouragement!  Paul said, "I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children...I urge you, then, be imitators of me." (1 Corinthians 4:14,16).  Let's be real with one another, encourage one another, and not let the shame of our own failings seep in and cause us to disrepair.