You guys — I crave connection, like I crave chocolate. Or sushi. 🙂 But I have gone through SERIOUS seasons of drought when it comes to relationships. You, too?
We all long for meaningful relationships – with friends and with God. But where do we start?
Start here with this book: Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement. It’s a brand new book, curated by the incourage.me community! I have a chapter in this book, along with other authors you might recognize including Annie Downs, Deidra Riggs, Holley Gerth, Renee Swope, Lisa-Jo Baker and more.
Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my chapter in the book – a chapter that tackles something that sabotages our relationships: Comparison.
But that’s not all, I am partnering with incourage.me to give away FIVE COPIES of this new book. If you long to go deeper with people and with God, this is the book for you.
Read on, friends! And be sure to enter the giveaway!
A new girl showed up at our exercise class. I knew her—we’d been in a Bible study together several years earlier—so it was so fun to see her walk through the door.
“Yay! You’re here!” I said, and gave her a little side hug.
She pulled me aside. “I’m so nervous, Jennifer. I haven’t been in an exercise class for years, and I feel so out of shape.”
I put a hand on her shoulder, and reassured her, telling her we’d all been there.
I quickly shared my own story: One year earlier, I couldn’t do more than five burpees in a row without feeling like I was going to lose my lunch. In fact, I didn’t even know what “a burpee” was. I thought it was the sound one makes after a satisfying meal. (It turns out that a burpee is a move that is a progressive combination of a jump, a squat, and a push-up.) Power cleans? To me, that wasn’t a weight-lifting move. It was what I did to whip my house into shape before guests came over.
And then, the workout began.
Within minutes, the new girl was doing what a lot of us do when we’re in a room full of other women: She started to compare.
The only newbie, she had fallen behind the group. “You’re going to lap me!” she said.
I prayed a small prayer for her, that she could stay focused on her personal best. But then, about a half-second later, I did something:
I started to compare, too!
I noticed out of the corner of my eye as two of our most skilled athletes were doing burpees in graceful synchronization, like they could seriously star in a CrossFit promotional video.
The Temptation to Compare
My exercise partner and I are not alone, are we? Comparison is a chronic condition for so many women I know.
We compare our jean sizes, cleverness, Fitbit steps, marriages, success, competency, sophistication, ab-flatness, hustle, and more.
It’s the kind of behavior that can damage the way we feel about ourselves. But it can also damage our ability to cultivate healthy and lasting friendships with other women. If we are so focused on how we measure up, we’ll always find ourselves in one of two positions—feeling better than or worse than someone else. Either way, that kind of comparative analysis is like poison in relationships.
When we compare, here’s what happens:
1 – We fix our eyes somewhere other than on Jesus. We are either looking at ourselves, or looking at someone else, and we miss the main event—Jesus at work.
2 – We will always find someone doing life “better,” so we fail to see the good that God created in us.
3 – We will perhaps find someone not doing life as well as we are, and we can become bloated in our own self-image. When we do that, we become like the Pharisees, who pridefully compared themselves to other people.
If we’re going to compare ourselves to anyone, it better be Jesus.
What We Can Do About It
There’s good news. We have everything we need within us to overcome comparison. As Christians, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, combined with the authority of the Scriptures that guide us toward right living.
Some important instructions are tucked into a letter than Paul wrote to the Galatians:
“Pay careful attention to your own work, … and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else” (Galatians 6:4).
God has called us each to our own work—in the office, the gym, the home, everywhere. And Paul is telling us that when we keep our eyes on our own work – when we “pay careful attention” to it—we won’t need to compare anymore.
I was back in the gym the other day, and let me tell you what: I had my floppy-fish form on display, got tangled in the jump rope, and nearly tripped over my own shoelaces. We were doing a timed workout, and this girl right here came in dead last place.
But you know what?
I got my personal best that day, I felt strong on the inside, and I left the gym with an extra spring in my step — and that was all that mattered.
Excerpt from my chapter in Craving Connection.
About Craving Connection
We all long for meaningful relationships, the Colossians 3:14 kind that fulfill our desire for unity and connection with God, our friends, and our community. But where do we start?
The (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull a chair up to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.
Find out more by clicking here.
I love the stories, challenges, and prayers in this book so much, so I am giving away FIVE copies of Craving Connection.
To enter, simply let me know one area of your life where you desire more connection—or where you are feeling meaningfully connected already!
For additional entries, share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each “share” will count as an additional entry. Be sure to let me know in the comments where you’ve shared, so I can tabulate all of your entries! I will draw FIVE WINNERS on Friday and notify you by email. (U.S. residents eligible only.)