“I did the same amount of work as he did, why didn’t I get the award?”
“I’m as pretty as she is, why didn’t I get complimented?
“I’m as talented as they are, why didn’t I get picked?”
“I’ve served in this position for years, why have I never been recognized?”
Our human nature instinctly reacts with jealousy, defense and frustration when someone gets praised or recognized and we don’t. Personally, I’m left feeling discouraged and inadequate. What we often don’t realize is that the root of these thoughts is pride that comes with wanting to be the best.
It is only when we take a step back from life that we remind ourselves our value doesn’t come from others’ opinions, it comes from God’s opinion. People may criticize or judge your opinions based on incorrect facts or may never praise you because you serve the Lord in secret (which, in fact, is what He commands us to do anyways). However, the whole “find your value in God” thing is much easier said than done.
This past winter I spent a whole discipleship weekend talking and thinking about how to find my identity in Christ. That very same weekend, one compliment someone received that I thought I deserved suddenly leaves me feeling two inches tall. Am I really that swayed by the world? Why can’t I just have this deep sense of knowing God’s approval and knowing His eternal perspective for my life is better? Because we are all ingrained with a strong sinful longing to be loved by the world. In fact, it is only through relying fully upon the Lord and His strength that we can find peace within our spirit.
If you’re anything like me, my thought process of comparison and “being the best” goes something like this, “Well, that person knows so-and-so and is related to so-and-so, therefore I MUST make a good impression on them with my awesomesness otherwise so-and-so might not think I’m that great anymore…..” Who cares? Overthinking never solves anything. Can you add even an inch to your height by worrying? No. Yet it is these destructive thought processes from the devil that cause us to daily stumble and that cause division within the church. If I resent a sister in Christ because she happens to be better at me than something or gets recognition for something when I don’t, what does that show the world? That I’m selfish, proud, and jealous. If I recognize strengths within others and encourage them in that, what does that show the world? That I’m kind and encouraging. So really, by pushing someone else and their abilities down, I reveal myself to be a more unpleasant person, but the whole purpose of me pushing them down was to build myself up—essentially I’ve gotten nowhere.
This issue is even more difficult when you are trying to impress someone you have romantic interest in. Women especially struggle with thinking questions like this: Does he think I look pretty? Do his parents approve of me and my major? Am I talented enough? Am I kind enough? Am I special enough? Does he like someone else more than me? What if I don’t have everything he’s looking for? Why is he upset today, did I do something wrong? What do his friends think of me? Do I “fit in” with his group? What does his family think of me? On and on it goes. We ask these same questions about popularity with friends, acceptance at work, approval from family, and all the worldly forms of adoration. But before long, we have dug ourselves in this deep pit of self-doubt, self-abasement, and anxiety.
The thing is, God doesn’t call us to live in these patterns of anxiety, comparison, and pride. God calls us to live in freedom because we have been saved by the mighty and majestic blood of His Son, Jesus. Friends, we don’t have to compare and compete anymore! Jesus already wants you and cherishes you more than you will ever know. He has given you new life—a life he doesn’t want you to waste pursuing people and opinions that will never satisfy. We must TRUST our Father to provide the right friends, the right opportunities, and the right recognitions at the right times.