Comparison. It’s the plight of all mankind, this evaluating the person beside us to see how we measure up. We’ve all done it. It starts when we are quite young, even though we would not have the language or perception to identify what we are feeling. It’s just the sense that someone is outranking us in some way. And so the battle for identity begins.
For children, it’s about who has the best or latest toy or gadget, or the grandest backyard for adventures, or the most and best of companions. And as we become more aware of ourselves, we develop a grid for our value by comparing beauty or brilliance. It doesn’t impact all of us the same way, to be sure. Some of us wilt and live life by default, knowing that we don’t measure up and never could, no matter how hard we tried. So we don’t. We are defeated without having ever left the gate. For others, that sense of deficiency makes us driven, competitive, desperate to perform and prove, though deep down we know we could never work hard enough to become what we deem the epitome of worth. We are never enough, and neither are our efforts.
I’m guessing I’m not alone here when I say this doesn’t change as we get older. It just becomes about different things. We look at someone else’s marriage or children or bank account or waistline or ministry and cannot help but think to ourselves, “Poor me.” And thus, the enemy begins to highlight the evidence, to point out definitive proof that we are right to despise our own miserable selves and therefore despise the God who made us. Our offense at ourselves becomes offense toward God, who surely missed the mark on Day 6 when he created man.
But here is what has happened to me. As I hit the years defined as “middle age,” I suddenly realized I no longer yearn for the life I see lived by others. I don’t need nor want what they have acquired or accomplished. The fleeting nature of external beauty has become secondary, no longer the basis for my value, because I’ve realized it no longer packs a punch. Less and less do I point to certain personalities or gifts or talents and think, “That’s the one.” Because the burning cry of my heart is this: I just want to be the me I was born to be. I am completely comfortable in my own skin.
I’ve been attempting to evaluate myself and my life objectively with the Lord. And it’s strange. I’m not sad about all the hard times, the days or months or years that nearly felled me, for I see now their importance in forming me into who I am. I could surely list for you all of my faults and weaknesses and shortcomings, but I could just as easily tell you my successes and victories and strengths. I’m perfectly okay with who I am and who I’m not. My worth is not based on anyone’s opinion, including my own. My worth is based solely on the fact that I belong to Christ, who formed me in my mother’s womb, and I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
And here is what happens. As we begin to embrace who God has created us to be, we give others permission to do the same. It’s not arrogance, but rather contentedness with where and who we are at any given moment that bears a peace that surrounds our very being. As we get honest about our wrestling, those around us watch us walk two parallel paths, the one where we are fully and completely aware of Christ in us and the one where we are fully and completely aware of us in Christ. It is the most beautiful of journeys, the place where our hearts and lives become rich and full to overflowing. Not perfect, but precious.
When I draw my last breath, I want to know that I didn’t miss a thing that God intended for my life. I will have lived a life that is rich and full and free. Not devoid of hardship or struggle or angst or even failure, but one where all of those things were lived out with and by and for Christ alone. This is peace. This is contentment. This is the truest reality we will ever know.
You formed my innermost being,
shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.
You saw who you created me to be before I became me!