A couple of times a week I find myself at Publix doing my grocery shopping. Shopping at Publix is a pleasure. I know this because they tell me so. I know this even more because I occasionally go to Kroger. I always walk away from Kroger thinking, "Now, why did I choose to come here?" But that's another blog....
When I am checking out at Publix, I sometimes see the women's magazine covers that tell me all about how I can wear the 10 best hairstyles, drop those last 10 lbs, cook 10 easy meals, know the 10 tricks to flawless skin and score the 10 best deals. As a woman I need to know these things because if I don't stay on top of it, someone else will have better hair, be skinnier, cook better, look flawless-er, save more by buying cooler stuff and generally beat me out in every area of life.
Since I am a human being and a woman, I fall prey to this crazy kind of comparison. There is the God part of my heart that wants to be lovely and there is the dark part of my heart that compares myself to others to determine if I am lovely. The magazine covers target that good desire to be lovely and twists it. The moment that comparison begins, the loveliness leaves.
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
Another word we could use for comparison is jealousy--a dissatisfaction with how God has made me, gifted me, and called me because I want more. This is not about wanting to steward what God has given me by investing my time, gifts and talents for what He has called me to. This is about the hunger to be the center of attention.
I am not looking to bless my family with a good meal, but to be declared the best cook in five counties. "Well done" and "Thank you" are not enough. It's not enough to be found attractive to my spouse and neat in appearance to those with whom I come in contact. I must turn the head of every man I pass. I must be the center. Taking care of myself through exercise and eating healthy is really an afterthought. I must do Crossfit seven times a week and eat four almonds a day until everyone notices how incredibly in shape I am.
I must have more. More praise. More attention. More. More. More.
If you haven't experienced this pull, I'd like to meet you in person to make sure you are a living and breathing woman. The struggle is real and it's a recipe for disaster. Maybe that's what the magazine covers should say: 10 Great Tips for Becoming Shallow, 10 New Ways to Focus on Things that Don't Matter, and Take Our Quiz: Are You Most Dissatisfied with Your Skin, Your Hair, Your Body, or Your Spouse?
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me
from this body of death?
The good news is there is a remedy.
Thanks be the God---through Jesus Christ
our Lord! Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The remedy for measuring up to others (jealousy) is taking hold of the measurelessness of God's love for me. His love doesn't change as I lose my youthful skin, abs of steel, and super shiny hair. He gave me some of those gifts in the first place, but He didn't love me for them. They were just part of the outward package at the time. God knew those would be fading and dying. He never looks at me and thinks, "She would be really pretty if she just wore her hair this way." No, that's not Him. He is all about loving me completely because I am His. God looks at me and is satisfied with who I am. I am in Christ. What more is needed?
From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love
is with those who fear Him.
From everlasting to everlasting--that's something I can't measure, something beyond knowing, beyond any greatness I can understand. When I allow God to stretch my mind around this concept, two things happen. One, I recognize who I am. I am a daughter of the King. I can stop striving to be the center and rest in the One who is the center. Two, as I rest in His measureless love, I see you differently too. You are no longer sized up according the the magazine standard of the day. I see a soul for whom God gave His Son. No longer are you a threat to my security. Now, I may be able to know you as a friend.
Next time you go grocery shopping, I recommend Publix. But don't buy the lies the magazines are selling you. Your worth and value are found in the One who created you.