My guest today in our Comparing Ourselves to Others...and what it does to us series is Denise J. Hughes. In my early blogging days, I remember Denise was one of the first people I didn't know to comment on a post I wrote, and I was tickled pink. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Jumping Tandem Retreat. Denise is the author of two books on writing and blogs at DeniseJHughes.com. Please welcome her here today by leaving a comment. ~ Laura
The summer before my sophomore year of high school, I went to camp with the rest of my friends from youth group. And the first camp activity was an ice-breaker: Brunettes to one corner. Blondes to another corner. Black hair to a third corner. Redheads to the fourth.
Out of 200 teen campers, I stood alone in the redheaded corner. Different from everyone else.
As a teenager, I didn’t like being different. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to be with my friends when they lounged by the pool slathered in coconut oil. I wanted to wear tank tops like my friends and not have to worry about my shoulders getting burned.
So I went to great lengths to defy my God-given design.
Back home, a commercial for Coppertone Sunless Tanning Cream caught my attention. This had to be the best invention known to man. Forget Thomas Edison and his light bulb. Coppertone promised the cure for all my problems. I couldn’t wait to try it.
I rode my bike to the local pharmacy and then rushed home with a bottle in a bag and a hope in my heart. This was the answer I’d been waiting for.
The directions said to leave the sunless tanning cream on my legs for no more than twenty minutes. But since I am really white, I figured that I better leave it on longer. So I carefully spread a towel across my bed, liberally applied the lotion from toe to head, and negligently proceeded to take a long nap instead.
(Mind you, this was the 1980s, so the formula was likely still in the “research and development” phase.)
When I woke up, I ran to the bathroom to discover a hideous discoloration overtaking me like some alien life-form. Beyond awful couldn’t begin to describe the reflection staring back at me. But the worst part? I had to go to school the next day.
Needless to say, Coppertone did not hold the cure I’d been longing for. I had to face the truth: No genie in a bottle could ever make me look like everyone else. I had to accept that I’m different.
Trying to be someone other than who God made me to be is futile. He didn’t design me to look like everyone else. So I might as well stop comparing my white legs to my friends’ tanned legs.
Comparison kills. Comparison tells us that we need to look like everyone else to fit in. Comparison says we need to be doing what everyone else is doing to be liked.
Comparison steals. Comparison takes the unique design we were given and measures us as less than. Comparison tears the fabric of our beings and shows us how we don’t match the fabric around us.
Comparison destroys. Comparison draws our attention to others and stirs our pride to want what they have. Comparison holds a distorted mirror in front of us and demolishes our hopes of belonging.
Comparison kills, steals, and destroys. Does that sound like anyone we know?
The more we try to be like those around us, the more we refuse to be who God created us to be.
Freedom from comparison comes from the growing desire to be the person God wants us to be. And the more we embrace God’s design for us, the more we can celebrate the beauty, success, and talent of others.
More than ever, I just want to be like Jesus. And the closer I draw near to His heart, the more freedom I have from comparison.
How have you found freedom from comparison?
Denise believes in the power of a well-told story. A blogger since 2009, she appreciates the conversational quality of online writing and considers blogging an excellent medium for exploring and improving the craft. She holds an MA in English and teaches writing at Azusa Pacific University.
Denise is the author of On Becoming a Writer: What Every Blogger Needs to Know and Passport to Prose: A Simple Editing Guide for Bloggers. She’s a Community Group Leader at (in)courage and a contributing writer at Allume, HelloMornings, Raising Generations Today, and Missional Women. You can find Denise at her website — www.denisejhughes.com — and on Facebook and Twitter.