Monday, January 13, 2014

How Comparison Almost Destroyed My Life by Barbie Swihart {Comparison Series}


Today, my guest in our "Comparing Ourselves to Others...and what it does to us"  series is Barbie Swihart. I first "met" Barbie in 2011 when I submitted a guest post to 5 Minutes for Faith and she was the editor. Since then, I've considered her a dear online friend. Barbie blogs at My Freshly Brewed Life and recently released her first devotional book, Coffee Talk With Jesus. I had the privilege of reviewing an advance copy of her book which you can read here: Coffee Talk with Jesus {Book Review}. Please make some time to visit Barbie on her blog, and join me in welcoming her here. ~Laura

I am not exactly sure when it took root in my heart. It’s something that, for as long as I can remember, has always been a part of me.

When I was a little girl, I was flanked on both sides by those who were more beautiful and more talented than myself, or so it seemed. I did all I could to conform, to be like those who I admired. Perhaps if I made myself look like them I would be accepted. Even as a little girl I wanted to dress to look like her, or walk like she did, or dance like that one.

God came into my life shortly after I graduated from high school and for the first few years, I was on cloud nine. I loved the Lord, and He loved me and life was perfect, or so it seemed.

Marriage came, and motherhood followed and for a while I was doing okay. But no one knew the deep depression and anxiety I experienced about not measuring up, about how I hated my body, about how I felt I could do nothing right, and how, no matter whether I heard it from his lips or not, my husband could never truly love me.

My displeasure with myself manifested in poor attitudes, angry lash outs and in shutting out the people I loved the most. Deep inside I was crying out for attention, yet I would push away those I loved because I felt unworthy of their affection.

In a matter of months, it all was about to come crashing down. 

It was an innocent attraction. I was in a very low point of my life and although I carried myself as one who was secure and loved on the outside, I was empty, lonely and dissatisfied with my life on the inside. All of the comparing I had done through the years leading up to my marriage was finally manifesting in ways I never knew existed. Why was her husband more affectionate? Why was her husband more gifted? Why did her husband bring her gifts? Why did her husband call her just because? Why couldn’t my husband do those things?

I had internalized all of the places of lack in my soul and made myself believe I was unsatisfied with my marriage, when in fact my eyes were turned to what I thought everyone else had, and onto what I thought I lacked. My vision was blurred and I could not see the blessing that God had put right in front of me. There was nothing wrong with my marriage. But there was something wrong with me. I had taken my eyes off of the one I loved and went in search of something, anything to satisfy my weary heart.

And there he was. This friend, this married man. At a point in my life where I felt misunderstood and longed after the life that others had, he paid attention to me. He told me things I longed to hear about myself. He put me up on a pedestal and made me feel special. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter what I felt about myself. He saw me differently. This attraction turned into an almost daily email connection with this man. What I didn’t realize was that deep down I was unsatisfied with my marriage, not because there was anything wrong with it, but because I was comparing it to what I saw, or appeared to see in the lives of other couples. I so desperately wanted more. This emotional affair lasted for about a year. Although I opened myself up in ways I should never have to this man emotionally, nothing physical ever happened. But the scary thing is, that it could have. I was so wrought with my own dissatisfaction in life that I almost turned my back on those I loved the most, for the momentary joy of gaining a life that I thought I wanted.

Comparison. It comes to kill, steal and destroy. It almost destroyed me.

During this time, I fell into a deep pit of despair. I was ridden with guilt and my vision of the real world was cloudy. I could not see the good in anything, especially myself. I remember one day driving across the bridge to go to work. I wondered, would anyone miss me if I drove the car off this bridge?” Anxiety and depression took over and I had to be put on medication for about a year just to function. In counseling, I realized that I was looking at a warped view of the world. “Things aren’t always what they appear to be, the counselor had told me. “You do not know what is going on behind the walls of those people you continue to measure yourself against.” 

Thankfully, with God’s help and the love of my family, I was freed from the pit of despair. 

The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. But God’s desire is that we would live a rich and satisfying life, free of comparison. God is the only one who can satisfy the ache in our hearts.

Do you ache to be loved?
Do you ache to be accepted?
Do you ache to be known?

Will you pray and ask God to come and fill the ache that lies deep inside your heart? You are one of a kind, my friend. There is no one like you. You need not compare yourself or your life to others. The God of the universe sees you and leans over the balcony of heaven just to hear your voice. Turn your eyes to Him and allow Him to give you the rich and satisfying life that you desire.

*****
Barbie resides in Northern California with her husband of 25 years and four children. She works full time while juggling faith, family, ministry and writing. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, reading, painting and spending time with her family and friends. Barbie is the author of Coffee Talk With Jesus: Intimate Chats With The Savior and blogs at My Freshly Brewed Life, where she shares glimpses of His love and sprinkles of His grace for everyday living.   

Linking up with Sharing His Beauty and Soli Deo Gloria

18 comments:

  1. Dear Barbie
    You are such an amazing woman and in this year and a half that I have known you, I have been encouraged so often by your honesty, your vulnerability and you just being you. I for one cannot imagine you being anyone else but just you. Besides, you are such a beautiful lady.
    Blessings XX
    Mis

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    1. Mia, you bless me. You've encouraged my heart so many times on this journey. I am truly thankful for you!

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  2. Oh wow, Barbie. We really are so much alike. While I've never had an emotional affair there are times it would have been so easy to do so. Comparison is a kill-joy. It twists everything that is good and right and turns it upside down. Thank you for sharing your heart here. My prayer this year is to not only believe what God says about me, but to truly love myself the way He does. And in turn, love those around me the same.

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    1. That is my prayer too Alecia! Thanks for stopping by to read.

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  3. Oh, no! It looks like my comment didn't post! Sorry about that!

    Thank you for your transparency, Barbie! I so appreciate all that you wrote and I can relate to it as well - it is amazing how when we take our eyes off the Lord, how easily something seemingly innocent can slide down that slippery slope into pain and sorrow, isn't it? But our God is full of grace and love! When I was at my lowest, thinking I could never be forgiven, I looked up and saw Him right there...waiting for me to grab His hand again! I'm keeping my eyes on Him and will never let Him go again!

    Blessings, Joan

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    1. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, and not on ourselves our our circumstances truly is the key. Thanks for reading Joan!

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  4. Barbie, your honesty is priceless. And yes, I understand the way needing to be accepted and loved, and comparing our lives to the lives of others, can lead to despair.

    Fortunately, God is there - always with open arms and a tender heart. He compares us to no one. For He created each of us unique in such a way as to be uniquely cherished by Him.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Thank you for your encouraging words Sharon! Blessings!

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  5. Barbie, thank you for hanging out here today and for sharing your heart with us. God is using your words to touch lives!

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    1. Laura, thank you for allowing me to bless others with my words.

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  6. Hey Girl. The truth is in the reality. He knew your heart and allowed this "thing" to go only so far...far enough for it to happen, but close enough for Him to use it for His glory. I HATE Comparisons. They are so detrimental to our unique, beautiful one the Creator made - the masterpiece He molded, planned and treasures. He made some diamonds, other emeralds and me a daisy. But that's okay. As long as I stretch forth in all my "dailyness" into the sunshine of His Sonship I'm going to be just fine. Some might shine, others might send out a sweet fragrance and others might be beautiful, but all of us are His own. As I always say, "He treasures His treasure and His treasure am I (and you too.)

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    1. I love you, truly! I'm stretching forth into the sunshine of His Sonship! I know He's got me! Thank you for taking the time to read and encourage my heart.

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  7. Oh sweet friend. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Your honesty has touched me so much. I loved you already but love you even more. Your words are such an encouragement. You give us a beautiful reminder to never take our eyes off of Him. {Hugs} to you. I really, really want to have coffee with you. XOXOXO

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    1. I really, really want to have coffee with you. I missed you today!

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  8. Just wanted you to know you are not alone. The more we share our hearts, the more we realized just that. Thanks for sharing your dark moment. Love you & your sweet heart, friend!

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    1. Larri, thank you so much! I am encouraged to know that I am not alone. Thank you for reading!

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!