Do you have a friend who wakes up looking angelic before she even washes her face? How about one who lives off of donuts and never lifts more than her purse, but somehow maintains the body of a supermodel? Maybe you have a friend who always gets what she wants, and everything seems to go her way. Perhaps you have a funny, charismatic friend who can light up a room and make even a stranger feel like they’ve been life-long friends. Have you ever admired your friend’s beauty, gifts, talents or life as a whole, and then suddenly felt like you got the short end of the stick? I have. I have at least one friend who easily fits into each category above.
Thankfully, I realized one day that my insecurities were growing into some things that were not very pretty: envy, jealousy, competitiveness, and even, at times, an underlying level of bitterness toward the very people I love most. And that realization broke my heart, but it also caused me to ponder over the dysfunction of it all.
They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and in my case, the old saying proved true. Except, in this situation, comparison was stealing so much more from me than I even realized. Comparison was stealing my opportunity to genuinely celebrate with my friends over the good things in their lives. Comparison was causing me to be the type of friend that I wouldn’t want to have, and one that I certainly don’t want to be. I want to be a good friend, and I want to celebrate my friends well.
Comparison stole my ability to view myself correctly. All I saw were my “deficiencies”—the ways that I did not match up to someone else—but I missed the fact that I wasn’t created to match everyone else. I was created mindfully, with my own set of gifts, talents, and even areas worthy of admiration… But insecurity and comparison blinded me of that truth.
What I’ve come to find, is that there are things I have been given, areas of expertise, natural abilities, and special wirings that were placed within me and my life—qualities that others don’t have—not to make them envious of me, but for their good. And perhaps I am unable to notice those things in my life and myself because they have always been there—they don’t seem unique to me. But other people notice…
They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and in this case the old saying proved true. Comparison was causing me to be the type of friend that I wouldn’t want to have.
My good friends, who are beautifully confident in who they are, have given me a sweet gift. They have shown me how to cherish the gifts that other people have. They have taught me how to truly delight with someone I love. They compliment my gifts. They encourage me to use them and build me up by explaining how the things that I categorize as normal, they see as a gift. Sometimes they even ask me to use my talents to help them.
This opened my eyes to another beautiful concept… If we all “matched,” there would be nothing to admire in one another. The world is beautiful because it’s filled with variety and complexity. We humans take that variety and complexity to a whole new and thrilling level. So instead of trying to match, let’s focus our energy on complementing one another for the betterment of us all.
Rather than seeing your friends’ gifts or talents as something enviable, look at them as gifts that were given to them for your sake. Your loved ones were placed into your life for your benefit, and vice versa, but ultimately for the world as a whole. Individually we all have unique specialties, but together we enhance the capabilities of one another, and ultimately make the world a more beautiful, purposeful place. When we combine our gifts, we can do exponentially more.
I would love to challenge you to discover your own, unique gifts and talents. If you don’t know where they lie, here are some things to consider:
- What kinds of things do your friends ask you to help them with?
- Ask the people who love you what they believe your strengths are.
- What do you enjoy doing that other people seem to dislike or struggle with?
- Consider taking some personality or giftings surveys and tests. (I recommend the free Myers-Briggs Personality test, located at the following link: www.humanmetrics.com.)
- Consider taking the Strengths Finder test. Learn more here.
For more encouragement in this area, listen to our podcast episode, How You Can Stop the Struggle with Comparison – 002
You will also like True Beauty is Found in a Woman’s Strength, 9 Marks of a Beautiful Woman (on the Inside), How to Live Out of Your Strengths, Not Weaknesses, 10 Ways to Boost Your Confidence, People Are Becoming Increasingly Lonely: Here’s How to Fight It, When Her Yes Feels Like Your No and Take It Easy – On Yourself.