Are you trying to blend in or stand out? Either way, you’re comparing yourself to others in the process.
Some of us like to blend in. We don’t want extra attention. We don’t want to stand in the spotlight. We want to be pretty much like our peers. Think back to high school days. Girls go on shopping trips together to get the same shirt in different colors. Even as they get older, they call each other to find out what type of outfit the others are wearing, so they’re not too casual or too formal. Women choose the trendy haircut over the most flattering. They’re willing to go to the movie of their friends’ choosing because they don’t want to create waves. They don’t want to bring up a concern or question in a meeting or small group study, because they don’t want to sound dumb or draw attention to themselves.
Some of us like to stand out. We don’t want to blend in. We want to be noticed for being different. Think back to high school days. Some girls didn’t set the trends; they rebelled against the trends. They determined their own style. Women choose what they wear because they like it regardless of what anyone else plans to wear. They’re not uncomfortable when they show up in something less casual or more formal than everyone else. They get the haircut they want even if it’s a different color, length, and style from everyone else. They’ll sometimes speak out just to speak out. They won’t be silent for long, and they definitely won’t hesitate to ask a question or voice a concern.
What’s your default setting?
How are comparing yourself to others – either to blend in or rebel?
We think we’ve grown beyond such high school tactics, but I think we just get trickier about it.
Do you shop where your friends shop?
Do you feel bad (or good) about your weight when you’re around your friends?
How often do you respond based on what others might think? (Remember your response might be to create no waves or purposefully create waves in a situation.)
Do you do things “because I’m independent, and I can,” or do you yield to what you assume someone else’s expectations are before you even ask?
Of course, we should have respect for others, and we need to consider what’s appropriate for various situations and relationships, but God doesn’t require us to compare ourselves to others. If he did, we’d never be good enough next to someone like Mother Teresa but never be as bad as Adolf Hitler. The truth is we respond in love and service and in selfishness and disrespect. God sets the standards; we don’t. No human authority trumps God.
Compare yourself to God using his perspective. There will always be room for growth, but he won’t overwhelm you with conviction of what you’re doing wrong or puff you up with what you’re doing well. Neither is consistent with his character. He knows just what you need to hear and see in order to be challenged to grow. Faith is definitely a challenge, but it will not be overwhelming even when it feels as if it is. God will keep you humble without squashing you. When you’re guided by his Spirit, you will experience life in the timing and way best for you – not your best friend, sister, mom, or mentor.
You were created in God’s image. He wants you to blend in to his identity. He wants you to stand out as a witness to others. Stay in his presence. He’ll clothe you in his righteousness, and you will glow with his beauty.
So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. (Genesis 1:27)
Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)