I did it again.
In my defense it started innocently with a status update, then an Instagram photo followed by an eloquent tweet. I cheered. I smiled. “Awe, so cool” I said.
But it lingered.
And then it moved to real life and it met me in the dressing room trying on swimsuits. And then again at the restaurant across from that chic.
I would brush it off with a casual flip of my hair, and a stiffening of my upper lip. “I got this, I totally have it all under control”, I thought.
Until it started to eat me for lunch. It ravished the peace in my friendships and then it gnawed at the tender joy in my marriage. Finally silencing the truth in my faith.
I got caught up in the tantalizing web of comparison.
I totally fell victim to this crap-trap of lies and twisted perceptions.
I let it eat at the inside of me until the process of being authentic was juxtaposed with false representations of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’.
You see, I know better. I know better than to allow comparisons to turn to evaluations. I even wrote (and spoke) about it here. Umm, I know those evaluations brought on unwarranted shame. Like quicksand, I began to fear all sorts of things. Things like, rejection and insignificance and I doubted connection, fearing transparency. Oh, it was ugly.
But an echo from a book I once read came dangling down in front of me, just as I was about to go under.
“If I search around long enough, I’ll find insecurity beneath my grandiosity and arrogant expectations beneath my self-contempt”. -Terry D. Cooper (quoted in So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore)
Pride. Pride was seeping in all around my tender soul masked as insecurity. And the spark that started it all was a simple moment of comparison.
Beth Moore goes on:
“Pride talks us out of forgiving and steers us away from risking. …Pride is a slave driver like no other, and if it can’t drive us to destruction, it will drive us to distraction.”
Can I sum that up in two words: Social Media.
I sat there on that fatefully dangerous day and compared their success to my perceived short comings. I lined up their haves next to my have-nots and promptly declared myself as inadequate. Friend, don’t you dare tell me you’ve never done that, and hold the platitudes please. You and I both know this epidemic is rampant.
Pride was shouting, “See there, I don’t have as many followers as they do, I am not as important or valuable.” “She got more likes than I did.” “I wasn’t asked to join them because I am not enough”. “I’ve been passed over.” “It will never happen, I don’t deserve it.” Because according to pride, it’s all about me and my abilities and my worth.
“Pride is the result of mistaking the eternal for the temporal. We end up looking in to look up instead of looking up to look in. We get fixated on every self-gain and every self-loss until, in our inordinate self-protection, we end up liking our wounds to the point they can’t heal.” (Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity)
And thus, the struggle to be authentically me.
I was too busy trying to make me like everyone else. Distracted I was, striving to make my journey just like theirs.
No, the truth is I am authentic, I am of undisputed origin, made in a way that faithfully resembles The original. I was created in His image.
Proverbs 11:2 says: When pride comes in, then comes shame. But with humility comes wisdom. And boy, am I ever familiar with shame; we were roommates for far too long. What I do want is humility, an unassuming position, a manner that avoids impropriety. Because I want the real, authentic me to be what shines, it’s the only thing that brings true meaning to the air in my lungs. And I don’t have air to waste chasing someone else’s validation.
“We must stop affirming and reaffirming to ourselves how inferior we are. It is the furthest thing from God’s concept of humility.” ~Beth Moore (So Long Insecurity)
In my quest for the shears to shed this unwanted shame and stifling pride I landed in Galations 5. Paul said it best and so I’ll quote him from the Message Bible, but seriously – you should go check out the whole chapter.
“I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”
“You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect.”
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”
Galations 5: 4-10, 25-26
Oh how I want the kind of deep down confidence from the Master, so that no amount of yeast can overtake me. I will work out these implications, daily. I surrender to find meaning, I bow low in humility to fulfill my praise to You, God.
Yes Lord, walking in the way of your (word), I wait for You. Your name (Your name alone) and Your renown are the desire of my heart. (from Isaiah 26:8 Parenthesis mine).