“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Over the past three months I’ve been putting in a lot hard work at the gym in an attempt to gain muscle and shed some pesky fat. I’ve made significant headway and I’m pretty pleased with where I’ve come thus far. Yet still, I find myself feeling anxious, judgmental and impatient. There is always somebody at the gym whose stronger, thinner, or more toned, and by the same token there’s always somebody whose weaker, thicker, and less toned. Does this give me the right to judge myself or others? Does this justify shaming myself into believing I’ll never be good enough? The answer is no.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Lately, I’ve felt my attitude change. For whatever reason I’ve been focusing on the positive things I see in myself and others. Observing people I encounter on a daily basis, whether at the gym or walking around the city, has become fascinating. I’m beginning to see the beauty in the people I come across, rather than the small imperfections. Where as before, I had a tendency to judge and/or compare myself to others. Oh, she’s skinnier than me, she has better legs, her skin is clearer, her hair is the perfect shade of blonde, she can lift more than me. Or, sheesh at least I’m not carrying around that much extra wait, my hair doesn’t look as bad as that lady’s, at least I’m lifting more than her. I know, not nice at all! Not fair to me and certainly not fair to the people I’m judging. I think it’s natural for humans to want to compare themselves to other humans. We feel we have to place ourselves in categories that society has laid out for us. I’m not perfect, some of these thoughts still sneak up on me, but I’m making a conscious effort to redirect my thoughts and it seems to be working. It’s a process of self discipline, it takes practice and consistency.
Take this field of Saguaros for example. Sure we could carefully analyze each one and characterize them by their beauty, symmetry, shape, and size, but we don’t. We sit back in awe of their beauty recognizing each one for its uniqueness. Yes I know, humans are not saguaros but you get the idea. It’s not each and every detail of a person that makes them beautiful and worthy of being loved, it’s the person as a whole.
“Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:4)
In God’s light harmful thoughts tend to shrink and shrivel away. (Sarah Young) Judgmental thoughts, confused ideas, temptations, cravings, “icky” feelings, all seem to fade away when I focus my thoughts on Jesus. With God by my side I need not be troubled by the chaos of the world. I need not worry about the accomplishments of others and how they measure up to mind; but rather, ask myself: How does my life measure up to God’s will? How does my life compare to Jesus’ life?