Do I Measure Up? The Deadly Comparison Game

Do I measure up?

My name is Beth and I am a comparison addict.

My given name is Beth, not abbreviated from Elizabeth, so I have often introduced myself as “just plain Beth”.

Without even thinking about it I tend to rank myself against everyone I meet. Who is the most beautiful woman here? Clearly that woman with the gorgeous voice singing up on the platform. I can’t compete with either her talent or her drop-dead gorgeousness. Who is the smartest? Probably that heart surgeon, or maybe that industrial engineer. Clearly not me.

The longer I play this deadly game the more acutely I feel my just plain-ness.

Comparing ourselves is instinctive. Our school-age kids know their rank in every possible category. Unfortunately we don’t easily grow out of this. Playing the comparison game robs us of gratitude for what we have and focuses our attention on the deficits.

The comparison game was a gift from the father of lies. Playing it leads to misery.

comparison game image

Comparing ourselves makes us feel like crawling in a hole somewhere, which is exactly where our evil enemy would like to keep us.

There are many kinds of intelligence. Every person is strong in something.

This idea was revolutionary for me. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences helped me see that  every student I ever taught is intelligent. Some people will never walk into a prestigious university but they instinctively know how to meet people and make them feel at ease. That is a kind of intelligence.  Others know how to put things together, or move with grace, also kinds of intelligence.

What part are you?

The apostle Paul said we are distinct parts of one body. I must be a thumb. Possibly I am a heel. Heels are rough are almost never the center of attention. Rarely does anyone comment on how special a particular heel is. When I was a kid I remember the adults saying “he is such a heel! It wasn’t a complement. Yep. I might be a heel. Every body needs thumbs and heels. It wouldn’t be complete without them.

We are as we were meant to be. It is unfair to compare our own weaknesses with everyone else’s strengths.

I actually am good at some things. Sometimes I win the comparison game. Winning the game is as deadly as losing it. Personally stealing credit for talents we were born with or gifts God gave us is pride.

The funny thing is, when I actually get to know the beautiful, talented woman on stage, or the brilliant woman I find I do have something in common with them. They too play the comparison game and lose.

Since each of us is utterly unique, the only fair comparison possible is to ourselves. We can and should compete with ourselves, and only with ourselves.

Do I love God with all my heart? Am I better at loving the people around me today than I was a year ago? Am I learning how to be the best heel I can be?

That is healthy competition.

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2 Responses to Do I Measure Up? The Deadly Comparison Game

  1. Merrie Lea January 10, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    I am in tears, you hit my heart. So much truth. Why do we do this to children, comparing all of them, when they are each God’s masterpiece. Why do women struggle with this so much? I have recently had some progress with only comparing me to me, it is like a healing balm for the heart.

    • Beth Ratzlaff January 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

      I’m not sure why we are all prone to compare. The funny thing is we all do it and each of us seems to feel like we are the one who comes up short. It is heartbreaking when children begin to compare themselves.

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