The thought, “Is that what 34 is supposed to look like?” went surging through my thoughts as I stared at the Instagram photo before me. The influencer had just turned 34 and naturally had to post about how gorgeous she looked on her birthday. I turned 34 recently, and instead of looking like a mature woman, I feel like I could pass for a geeky, 18-year-old kid. Instead of rejoicing that the influencer looked beautiful on her birthday, I found myself irritated that I couldn’t look the same way. Looking back on those foolish moments, I laugh to myself that I was ever jealous in the first place, but selfishness is a constant battle. The comparison trap is no laughing matter.
…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7b ESV
Social media enjoys showing me photos of what my life should look like, everything from perfectly imperfect styled food photos, succulent planters, and influencers who seemingly display perfection. This tends to make me discontent and unhappy that I do not have whatever my "current desire" is. My outer shell is not perfect. My home does not look like a magazine, nor do I have any sort of popularity. So envy starts slowly, seeping into the darkest corners of my heart.
It is amazing how women can get so easily caught up in the comparison trap. It doesn’t matter what the perceived disparity is. We often compare ourselves to other women. The comparisons can come in many forms; looks, wealth, possessions, creativity levels, cooking skills, motherhood, etc. There are even Christian ladies who struggle with jealousy in ministry.
We often look to the world to find answers on how we can overcome this issue, and we are directed to love ourselves more. If we look at the pattern of Scripture, it says the opposite. We already love ourselves too much and think we deserve better. If we are emptied of ourselves and focused on Christ and serving others, we wouldn’t have the time to get jealous over other women. We would rejoice in what the Lord has given us, but we should also rejoice in how other women have been blessed. If we take our eyes off of our King and allow the world to dictate our mindset, we will be unhappy and discontent.
While I struggle with jealously over physical appearance, my biggest struggle is comparing myself with women who have a deep knowledge of God’s Word and a gift of expression. I often feel sorry for myself when I read articles written by women who are deep thinkers and who can discover the hidden manna of the Bible. I long for that depth in my walk with the Lord.
What does the Lord expect us to do with these feelings of insecurity? The account of Peter’s conversation with the Lord in the book of John always pricks my conscience:
Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’John 21: 20-22
This conversation reminds us that it does not matter what anyone else has or does; we have to decide to follow Him regardless of what we see around us. What is wonderful is that when we stand before Him at the Bema, He will not judge us by the standard of others. He will judge us by what He has given us to do.
Here are some practical ways to combat the sin of jealousy:
I pray that we will seek to cultivate a heart of gratitude, a thankful and happy heart for what we have, and rejoice in the gifts that others have in Christ.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”Psalm 16:11 NKJV