I remember that, as a child, I was so confident in who I was. So sure of my purpose. So utterly okay with myself, so much so that I would do crazy things, things like speaking, things like traveling, things like writing. I was fearless in the best possible way.
But over the last few years, fearlessness was lost. I have spent the last three years desperately trying to find it again. Trying to figure out if it was just a mirage childhood paints over each of us, or if it was truly a quality my creator endowed into my spirit. As I searched and prayed for this quality again, I tried to understand how I lost it. What had severed my connection with the bravery of having an understood identity? This is the conclusion I have come to:
Fearlessness was lost when I started associating who I am with where I measured against other people.
Comparisons were sucking the life right out of me.
As I grew into an adult, I taught my heart ever so subconsciously that other people were doing bigger, better, grander things and gosh darn it, if I couldn't top it, my life was pretty much a big fat failure.
I became a comparison junky. I stopped placing my identity in the person God had called me to be, and started placing it in the fact that people were out to overshadow my success. When we do this, other people become a threat to us and we slowly start to lose our sense of purpose.
You might not struggle with this....but in a world of social media craziness....it's kind of hard not to. We get bombarded with people's "best" 24/7, and for a person who struggles with perfectionism, I set a standard over my life that is impossible to fulfill. And when I can't fulfill it, I get mad, I get fearful, and I get lost.
Some ways to tell if you're stuck in comparisons?
1. People who compare become upset at other people's success.
You might not understand why. Your head might even know it's wrong, but your heart can't help but to feel twinges of misery when you see someone's amazing Instagram pictures, or FB statuses, or awesome tweets. It's the "ugh" feeling of.....'cool for them, but why not me?" You might not be visibly or actively wishing for their demise, but your heart is not rooting for them. This is dangerous, because God does call us to root for other people. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love others. There in and of itself lies hints of our identity and our purpose. If we aren't rooting for other people, half of our identity is lost. When half your identity is lost, you're going to be walking around wondering why you have no joy, why you have no strength, why you have no fearlessness.
2. People who compare are not willing to give credit to others.
Let's face it. You work hard. Really hard. And when someone compliments you, it feels good. It gives you a sense of self assurance, a sense of worth, a sense of satisfaction. What happens when someone compliments someone else for something you might have had a part in? That can be really rough. Those moments are when I learn the most about my character. Along those same lines, are you actively looking for ways to point to others, to honor others, to give credit to how they've attributed to your wins? Hey look, if we aren't willing to admit that others had a part in our success, we will lose every time. If you don't pay honor to those who helped build your success you might get ahead, but you are also going to go horribly and utterly alone.
3. People who compare place themselves in circle of friends where they can be the top dog/the smartest/the best, rather than aligning themselves with people that can teach them, grow them, and have gone before them.
When you suffer from the comparison game, you often position yourself for the short term win. And when I say 'short term win,' I mean that you position yourself to win a small footrace, rather than training for the Olympics. I love a quote from John Maxwell that says something along the lines of, "if you're at the top of your class, you're probably in the wrong class." It can be scary moving to a new class where everyone is more experienced, more intelligent, and wiser than you. Don't let it threaten you. You will grow more than ever before and growth will lead you to purpose. You were meant to run in the Olympics, so stop running that silly footrace.
4. People who compare suffer from discouragement, exhaustion, and the feeling of always wanting to give up.
It's because you are running the wrong race that secretly goes in a circle. When we compare, we run the race of accomplishment, a race that goes nowhere. But we are called to run the race of purpose. A life ran toward purpose understands that no other person is in their race. Hoping for another’s success does not diminish your own success, just like insulting another’s success does not increase your own. We are called to a purpose that no one else can fulfill. It might take us quite a while to run it, but that's okay. When you're running toward purpose and you know that everyone's rooting for you [not competing against you] running hard becomes a whole lot easier (and more fun too!). If you can understand this, you'll be confident in your steps. Sure in your stride. Understanding of your identity.
Nothing illustrates a life lead with purpose like the life of John the Baptist. Called from a young age to be the forerunner of Jesus, proclaiming his name and preparing hearts for his grace, it could have been pretty easy for John the Baptist to become jealous and give up his purpose. He had a pretty good thing going with publicity and crowds and all that jazz.....and then Jesus came on the scene and John's ministry got smaller and seemingly less awesome. How would we have reacted to something like this? Someone taking our name, taking our crowds, taking our ministry, our position? The little fame we've got going on through Twitter already has us freaking out.......so how would we have dealt with John's situation?
You see, John knew his true purpose. He just keeps pointing to Jesus. He actually says "He must increase, but I must decrease." Holy mackeral, can I just have this quality please?? How do we start to attain the sense of destiny and humility that John the Baptist has? Here are a few quick things I've noticed about John the Baptist that are helping me deal with comparisons in my own life:
1. John the Baptist never stops giving honor where honor is due.
John knows who gave him the word to preach and he attributes none of it to himself. If it's not his, he can never lose it. Eternal destiny can never be taken from us. God gave him his gifting and John points it all right back to him. John never compares himself to others or to Jesus, John knows exactly who he is and what he's there for, and that is enough. Let's give honor to Jesus for what he's given us and then honor those around us who have been part of our success.
2. John the Baptist knows his purpose and his purpose is to point to Jesus' success.
His purpose is to make the way for Jesus coming after him. His purpose rested solely on the lifting up of another. Is that not what we are called to do on this Earth? Can we start to position ourselves to point to Jesus and point to others.....and stop always jumping up and down, yelling "me! me! me!"?
3. John the Baptist was bold, John the Baptist knew he had a unique message, John the Baptist was fearless.
The above two points allow us to be bold and from this boldness, we will reap joy and fulfillment. You know why John could afford to be so bold? Because he gave honor where it was due and he knew what his purpose was. John wasn't afraid of another's success, because he knew that within that person's success was his destiny. John positioned himself to point to God and to point to others...... and this yielded boldness. Out of this boldness comes joy and fulfillment, worth and fearlessness.
As we each discover what our purpose is, we must understand that at the core of it all lies our calling to love God and love others. If our lives do not exemplify this, we have missed our purpose. When we love God and root for one another, we free ourselves from the threat of comparisons. Fearfulness will cease and we will begin to live a life of growth, joy, and of purpose.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3