A few years ago, I went to visit a dear friend. She’d given up a lot to be where she was for the sake of pouring into a cause greater than herself. As she introduced me to people she worked with, one of them said to me, “You’re prettier than she is.”
The words might as well have been bullets, and though I was not the target, I was the surface the speaker used to steady his hand as he pulled the trigger. I feel partially to blame for the deep wounds that remark opened in my friend. That’s made this a hard situation to write about, but really, that comment wasn’t about me.
It wasn’t about my friend, either. She’s given of herself in sacrificial, beautiful ways. If anyone was beautiful in that room, it was her.
The comment really said the most about the person who put it out there. My chest gets tight as I relive that exchange and condemn him for hurting her that way.
But, in reality, don’t we all compare people all the time? Sure, we generally don’t come right out and say it, but don’t we pick which strangers to talk to at conferences, events, or even in the checkout line based on how they look?
Yet our Creator made each of us with loving care. When we stand before him someday, he won’t be concerned with our outward appearances. After all, we look the way he ordained us to look. It’s the beauty of the heart that matters to him.
But even there, we lose ourselves in comparison. We see beauty in someone’s work ethic, kindness, or bubbly demeanor, and we quickly turn it into a comparison. As we wonder why we’re not more like some other person, we belittle our own talents. Or, we see ourselves as better than our friends or family.
None of this builds a foundation for a healthy relationship with another human being.
Can I just say this once and for all?
You are not beautiful like me, and I am not beautiful like you, and that is by design.
We are different but equal. Because of our differences, we can build each other up, fulfilling a mission greater than obtaining the thickest eyelashes, the skinniest waist, or the most sparkling personality.
Let’s put a stop to comparisons! First, recognize when a comparison enters your mind. Second, put conscious effort into ensuring our differences give us more to celebrate, not less. Next time you’re tempted to envy someone, instead find a way you can help each other. Rather than dismissing someone, remember every single one of us has a story worth sharing. Listen to the stories around you and share your own, secure in the knowledge that you, too, have beautiful value.
In the name of celebrating each other, use the comments to tell us about a beautiful woman you know. Let’s go more than skin deep!
P.S. This is a Beauty Rewrites post. I’m thrilled to be joining forces with Christina of Creative and Free and Ludavia of Nifty Betty for this 12-week series on body image, true beauty, and how to celebrate what you’ve got. Visit every Tuesday for the latest installment. If you’re just tuning in now, check out the definition of beauty and Ludavia’s three tips for achieving it. Christina’s post on what being homecoming queen did to her body image is also a must-read.
I agree. One day a friend said I was beautiful, and I quickly responded, "Oh, please don't." And she said, "I meant inside." I was so used to hearing compliments from people on how I looked. I heard it so much that my focus was on my outward appearance rather than my heart. 2 Cor. 10:12 says it isn't wise to compare ourselves to each other. And like God, we should look on the heart. My friend who said that to me was following God's pattern, instead of the other friends around me, and that has struck with me ever since. Today she is a strong mother of littles and is fighting cancer. Yet she's encouraging every one around her through the strength she receives through Christ. Thanks for your post!
It certainly is a beautiful friend who looks to and encourages the inside! What a blessing. I'll pray for her in her fight with cancer. Thanks for sharing!
A beautiful woman I know is a mama of two kids who are friends with mine. She lost her husband last year and I'm just amazed at her joy and strength. I don't feel one ounce of comparison from her or around her because I know what she has been through. Her story changes everything and helps me to have compassion for others too because we just never know until we ger inside someone else's life.
I was just talking with a friend about how we really have no idea how much others are going through. When a person's life is such that a glimpse inside it has the power to change others for the better, that's true beauty, isn't it?
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