God's Word tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that outward beauty is deceptive and fleeting while inward beauty is unfading and of great worth. It doesn't take long to look at today's media and see how the world is trying to convince us otherwise! Read uplifting and encouraging real life stories from Christian women about true beauty and health. Start seeing yourself as the women God created you to be!
A simple scroll through my newsfeed sent me deep into self-doubt. I studied one proud-momma picture after another, absorbing every detail. Each post was accompanied by a caption, explaining the importance of the moment. “My baby won the art contest today… Our team placed first in the tournament… So proud of this girl’s accomplishment… Love watching him do what he loves!” And on, and on, and on.
I wanted to join in the happiness. I wanted to cheer them on and be an encouragement. But with every passing post I heard the voice of comparison grow louder, saying my mothering skills didn’t measure up to hers.
Sharing from this vulnerable place leaves me open to criticism. I get that, but I’ve also learned that I’m not alone in my compulsion to compare myself to others. Talking to women about comparison, I’ve discovered many of us have listened to this pesky voice. The question is: What can we do about it? Is it possible to overcome comparison?
The answer can be found in God’s Word through studying the lives of some pretty cool women in Scripture. One of these women walked in the shadow of someone else – someone important, as a matter of fact. No doubt it would’ve been easy to compare herself to this super-woman. Through her circumstances we find three steps we can take to conquer comparison in our lives and enjoy contentment like we’ve never known. Her name was Hagar.
Step One: Get alone with God.
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?’” (Genesis 16:7 NLT).
Abraham acquired Hagar as a slave and gave her the job of maidservant to his wife Sarah. Hagar lived in constant turmoil with Sarah. When her circumstances overwhelmed her, she chose to run away. In the middle of the desert, she had an unexpected visit from an angel. Hagar didn’t go to the desert knowing she would encounter God, but He found her there.
I often pray and then fill my life with so much noise that I can’t hear God speak. My busy schedule doesn’t make it any easier. That’s why step one is so critical. God often speaks in whispers. We must be silent to listen. And we can’t hear God if we don’t make time to get alone with Him daily.
Step Two: Cry out to God for help.
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“But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, ‘Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there’” (Genesis 21:17).
Hagar made not one, but two trips into the desert. The second journey was not her choice. But in this second trip into isolation, the angel visited her yet again. He came because God heard Hagar’s son Ishmael crying.
So many times I find myself in a situation where I have no idea which path to take. I’d like to say I’m one of those people who hears God’s audible voice giving me specific answers, but that’s not always the case. I often pray for weeks, sometimes toiling over a decision instead of trusting Him to guide me.
In those desperate times when we scan the horizon, and the path in every direction looks bleak, only one thing will get us out of our mess – crying out to God. His ways are more complex that our own, and He will answer in the most unexpected ways.
Step Three: Realize God’s plan.
“The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.’ Then he added, ‘I will give you more descendants than you can count.”’ (Genesis 16:9-10).
How hard it must have been for Hagar to return to Sarah and submit to her authority! Hagar dreaded the thought of continuing in her role as slave. This may not have been Hagar’s idea of a good situation, but God sets the plan in motion. Our job is to accept it.
We may not always be thrilled with following what God tells us to do. God is holy, and our human minds can’t always rationalize how He works. God sees the end result. He knows the plan, and He gives us everything we need to take the first uncomfortable step. And sometimes one uncomfortable step leads to a lifetime of contentment.
God saw Hagar and her son. He sees us and our kids, too. So let’s learn from Hagar’s story today. We can take these practical steps toward conquering comparison. And when we do, we will live out the plan He created just for us. So when the voice of comparison begins to speak the words You don’t measure up as a mom, let’s claim this truth from God’s Word instead.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
Excerpts from this article are taken from Kristine Brown’s book Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan. For more information about the Over It book, visit www.morethanyourself.com/over-it. A portion of the proceeds benefit the More Than Yourself, Inc. scholarship program.
Publication date: April 26, 2016