When You Feel Like A Failure – Self Comparison and Criticism

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved being in front of people. Talking to them, teaching them, leading them, loving them. On stage, off stage, side stage, no where near a stage. (With the exception of them singing Happy Birthday to me.) In fact, there are many personality traits that I can look back on throughout my life that have been shaped and molded into things that are serving me (and ultimately God) well. What’s interesting, though, is that I feel this need to conform to whatever the person beside me is doing to make things work instead of conforming to the gifts and talents and abilities God has given me which are working just fine. At it’s core, this issue seems so elementary. “God made everyone unique. Everyone is special in their own way. You’re beautiful just the way you are. Your value is in Jesus.”

But it’s not that simple. It’s just not. Maybe in theory, but not in practice. When I truly look at myself, I can see the ways that I’m unconsciously looking around me and trying to keep up. Meanwhile, God saying is, “When you want to adjust your life and make changes and follow me, don’t look beside you. Look in the mirror. You’re not living their life. You’re living yours.” Where God has placed me and what He has me doing is different than where He has any other given person. And to think that I have to be where they are in order to be doing things right is to neglect the gift that God has placed not only directly in front of me but also within me and the life He has called me to right now in this moment.

My life is not going to look like the person beside me, because it’s not their life. It’s mine. It has a different calling. I have a unique skill set that doesn’t require the same type of training and preparation that their calling may require. My valleys will be different than their valleys. And God forbid I tap into believing the lie that they don’t walk through valleys of their own because they somehow manage to keep things picture perfect on the outside.

I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s true. I exhausted myself running and trying to keep up, even though I couldn’t be more thrilled with where God has me. Yet, I felt this need to also be where He has those around me. The need to be where others are in their life was stealing the joy God has given me where I am. Being where God has placed other people will not satisfy me because it’s not for me, it’s for them. It’s so easy to be so self-critical when our lives don’t appear to line-up. Note to self: I don’t have to look like everyone else. I’m not supposed to. My life doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s life. Embrace the adventure.

Wherever you are, be all there. – Jim Elliot

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