By Lori Beard
Recently, I was standing in the check out line at Walmart on a Sunday right after church (I know, I know….really). But here I was. And in front of me were two ladies practicing great patience and kindness with the cashier who was not really happy to be there. They had clearly just left church too. They were dressed in flowered skirts to their knees and their hair was neat as a pin. I immediately thought of a much younger; much more arrogant me.
I remembered seeing sweet ladies like this when I was in my twenties and feeling like I was so much more able to love and connect with broken people around me than these pious stick-in-the-mud ladies (as I walk into church in my shorts and tank top). I remember believing that, because I dressed less stylish and less “obviously Christian,” lost people could surely connect to me better. I was so sure of that. So arrogant. On this day, standing in Walmart I remembered how broken my own soul was that I would even have those thoughts. Years later, my life was significantly changed for the better by two ladies who wore dresses to their knees and never considered less than that when attending church. What a lesson for me.
This walk down memory lane led me to think on what divides Christian women the worst. What causes us to rise up against each other. What causes us to tear each other down.
It is comparison.
We compare ourselves to other women in connection to, well, everything. And the result of comparing is always a couple of things; jealousy and envy or arrogance and pride. If we compare and find ourselves wanting then we experience horrible jealousy. If we compare and find ourselves better, we are eaten up in arrogance and pride. And the result of both of those is division.
It makes me sad.
Christian women need one another desperately. We are aliens in a foreign land. We are not designed for the place we are living in. We are set apart. Weird. Out of place. If ever anybody needed anybody, it is other aliens. We need each other to get through this alien world until we reach home. But we are so busy comparing, cutting, finding fault. We walk alone often because either the other women are not in our caliber OR the other women are so much better than us (in our mind) that our envy keeps us from loving or being loved by them.
Just stop it.
I don’t know how biblical sounding that counsel is but God gave the same counsel when He wrote proverbs. If you are doing something foolish – stop it! He told the woman being stoned: who condemns you? Neither do I: now go and sin no more.
So just stop it.
Listen, this thing we do; this comparing…
It is not humble.
It is not right.
It is not good.
It is evil.
It is a tool of Satan to kill, steal, and destroy. I have seen it destroy friendships between sisters who are grown up in Jesus. I have seen it destroy the friendship between sisters who truly love others. It is wicked. If you are practicing it: just stop it.
Beg God to help you. Talk to other women who are not struggling in this. Talk to your pastor.
This sin is insidious. It will keep you isolated and alone and afraid for your whole life.
Hiding behind fake smiles. And fake great marriage stories. And fake great kid stories. And fakehomemaking stories. Get it? Comparing ourselves leads to fake because we can never tell the lady who seems to be perfect what is hurting us. That we are not all together. That we are wearing capris to church but all broken at home. Our sorrows never get shared enough to find out the lady in the dress hurts too. She hurts just like you. Oh, this breaks my heart. I beg God to break this ugly sin from the church who loves Jesus. Break it!
Some common areas of comparison that should bind us together but tears us apart:
- Schooling. Oh, a big one. Homeschool. Public school. Private school. Charter schools. Online school. The absolute craziness over these camps makes my heart sick.
- Breastfeed or bottle-feed. New mommas are struggling to sleep; struggling to get through colic; struggling to learn how to cope. And we draw up sides on how we feed our kids instead of crying together over exhaustion, fear and being crazy busy.
- C section or natural birth. One of the most beautiful experiences of womanhood to be shared and we draw camps over it. We insist it matters. It does not. Stop it.
- Skirts or pants. Truly. Who cares. Who cares!
- Gifts & Talents. Instead of celebrating our different gifts and thanking God he blessed us by gifting a sister who can help us in our weakness, we secretly find ways to tear down those gifted differently than us so we feel better about our own. So then we never get to be helped by those with different gifts. We are too busy being jealous while hiding behind our smiles.
- Married or unmarried. Well, of course married women are better. God loves them more. (Camp #1). Well, unmarried are more holy because Paul said, “Hey, wish you could be me!” (Camp #2) So never the two shall meet. So incredibly sad.
- Mommas or not. Women who want babies are so sad and broken that often they compare the way they would mother with the way Christian sisters do mother. They lose out on the chance to support sisters who need them. Who desperately need them. Women who are mommas only do playdates with other mommas. It never crosses their minds to share their beautiful family with the lady with no kids.
Unbelievable division that God never intended.
Stories of women who hated other women abound in the Bible but the one that breaks my heart the most is Rebecca and Leah. Years of comparison. Years of envy. Years of jealously. What did it lead to? Generations of jealously. Envy. Hatred. Thousands of years. Read the story. God did not intend this sweet sisters.
Just stop it.
Beg God to help you see women as the gifted amazing people he made them. Stop being afraid you cannot measure up. Stop posturing because you are infinitely better. Just love one another. We have so much to offer one another.
The two are not coexistent.
Here is the verse that blows comparison up and stops it on its tracks: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).
My motive should never be sizing up the competition to be better or to be good as. My motive should always be the glory of God alone. Now apply that to the list above. What does that look like in your life? Your circumstances??
Do what brings glory to God. Only that.
God bless our sweet sisters to seek Gods glory and be FREE to love one another without this yoke of comparison.
PASTOR’S NOTE: We are blessed to learn from Lori’s godly wisdom. As Christians we all need to learn to discuss the various issues she mentions above without allowing our hearts to become judgmental or to fall into the comparison trap. May the Lord give us grace to know how to agreeably disagree when the gospel and the primary truths of God’s character are not at stake. Far too often in our culture, Christians either choose churches or leave churches over tertiary matters that fall more under Christian freedom or mere preferences. We need to seek God’s grace to unite around those first-tier doctrines that matter most!