31 May 2015

Overcoming the Tendency to Compare -- By Tamera Alexander





Guest Post by Tamera Alexander
I was recently asked to share what I would say to my younger writing self if I could go back in time, and one of the things I’d share with the Tamera of 2006 (the year my first novel was published) is this:


Determine to truly rejoice with fellow writers when they achieve success, no matter what comes your way. Rejoicing with themversus being jealous, hurt, or begrudgingwill add exponential joy to your journey. And to theirs.


It’s taken me years to learn that truth, but doing so has completely changed my perspective. I’m not saying I have it mastered. Not hardly. But one thing is clear: envy is a slippery slope. And comparing yourself to others only feeds that veritable monster.


Envy is one of the few sins that offers zero pleasure to the sinner. Envy leaves you empty, brooding, and bitter. And there’s no place for it in a believer’s life. Why? Because in Hebrews 12:1-2, the Creator of the universe tells me he’s mapped out a specific course for my life. Just as he’s done for yours.


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."


The race God has set before us. The race I’m running is by his design. His sovereignty.


And yet…


Have you ever found yourself glancing at the lane next to yours only to see the gal running beside you—who, incidentally,  is slimmer, more attractive, has to-die-for calves, and doesn’t sweat when she runs (don’t you wish triple latte calories on women like that?!)—and you think, "Why can’t I look more like her when I’m running? Why can’t I be running her race? Her path looks so much smoother than mine."


I have. And that’s the definition of comparison.


Remember the poem Desiderata that was popular back in the 70s? This particular line has stayed with me all these years:


If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.



Comparing ourselves to others either leaves us with an overinflated ego or bitter with envy. God revealed to me years ago that the seed of my "comparing heart" was rooted in a lack of gratitude and I asked him then to make me more grateful. And he has. But the process has been painful.


But one thing that’s helped me—and notice the scripture above gives us this answer—is to keep my eyes on Jesus. Not on the others running around me.


Yes, I’m to help you when I see you stumble or fall, I’m to cheer you on when you’re doing well (and hope you’ll do the same for me). But bottom line, I’m to keep my eyes on my eternal champion. And not so oddly, it’s next to impossible to be jealous of others’ accomplishments when my eyes are firmly on Christ and I’m grateful for the race he has me running.


Do you struggle with a comparing heart as I still do on occasion? What helps you to keep your focus where it needs to be?

CFP: Thanks for being with us, Tamera, especially considering how busy you are right now! I wonder how many authors out there are comparing themselves with you?

Giveaway: We're giving away two copies this week of Tamera Alexander's new release from Zondervan, To Win Her Favor. (Void where prohibited by law. Includes international readers if Book Depository ships to your address.) Answer Tamera's question to enter. We announce the winner in a week in the upper right hand corner of this blog so come back to check!

39 comments:

  1. As I've gotten older, I've learned to care less about what others think of me than I do of what God thinks of me. So what if I'm in my 60s and I want to wear orange jeans. I like them, they're comfortable, and they're decent. Let others think I've lost my marbles, if it makes them happy. Big earrings or a t-shirt that has a Bible verse on it in big letters. I've learned to be me!

    The same in my writing. I write what I believe God's led me to write. If someone tells me I shouldn't touch that topic or gets their feathers ruffled, I have to stay true to what God's put on my heart.

    I spend very little time comparing myself or my work with others because I don't have the time. I'm too busy being the person and the writer God created me to be. I just wish I'd learned this 40 years ago!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen to wishing I'd learned this earlier too, Sherry. It's so freeing! You're free to be the writer God has fashioned you to be, which also "frees" you to write your book for an Audience of One. For him. Yes, we want others to read it and hopefully enjoy it (or love it!), but ultimately... It's about pleasing him and bringing him glory through our words.

      Delete
  2. What a beautiful post and poem, Tamara - thank you so much!! Since I renewed my relationship with God a number of years ago, I have far less occasions of comparing myself to others. The answer to that problem is truly just as you commented - keeping my eyes on Jesus. Being human, I'm not perfect and will always be a "work in progress", however, I find myself more often asking "why not me??" - when faced with trials. We are all equal in His eyes and should be in each other's - as well - regardless of accomplishments or physical attributes. We were made by Him, each of us unique - with one's own unique qualities and abilities.

    I've read numerous wonderful reviews/comments on "To Win Her Heart" - I can't wait to read it!! Your God-given writing gift shines beautifully in each of your novels, as well as in your online posts. I'm grateful for the inspiration you share through your writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P.S. Just realized the title of Tamera's novel is "TO WIN HER FAVOR" rather than To Win Her Heart. Sorry, Tamera!!

      Delete
    2. LOL, Bonnie. No worries! As a preacher friend of mine used to say, "the ground at the foot of the cross is level." We're all rotten sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ, and by nothing else. Loved what you shared, and appreciate the heart with which you shared it.

      Delete
  3. I still struggle with comparing myself to others. I am thankful for His Grace to overcome. Thank you for this encouraging post. I am looking forward to reading To Win Her Heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Praying for you right this minute, Caryl, and asking God to show you what you look like robed in the beauty and sinlessness of Christ. You're one gorgeous daughter of the King, woman! Appreciate you sharing.

      Delete
  4. Tamera, your post is something we all have experienced (or still do at times), I am sure.

    Years ago, I would compare myself with others wishing I was more like them, but one day I realized that God made me-ME and not that other person I was comparing myself with. He has given me gifts that are for me to use to glorify Him, which is hard to do if I am constantly comparing myself to others. I am content to be me, just as God made me. By keeping my eyes focused on Jesus (just as you said), I then don't compare myself to others.

    Have to tell you, I love your books Tamera!

    Blessings,Tina


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Tina! Hugging you from Nashville—and thank you for those kind words!

      Delete
  5. Hi Tammy,
    Thank you for sharing your struggles so beautifully. It's true that even when we try not to compare ourselves, it creeps in at times. Now with my first Bethany House historical coming out, I am trying to keep any sort of comparison with other BH authors out of my consciousness. I have to trust that since God brought about this book in the first place, that it will do as well-or not-as He deems fit.
    I sincerely love the generous hearts of the Bethany House (as well as other Inspirational) authors and try to focus on giving encouragement as they do!
    I'd love to be in the draw for your book, as I haven't got it yet.
    Warmest wishes,
    Sue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Something else I learned long ago is that God is the best publicist and marketer. Yes, we need to do "our part" (as he leads us to do, each in her own way) but he will get your book (and mine) into the hands of those who need to read it. Not that they'll all like it (hard as that can be to understand, LOL!). But our goal is to glorify him and to write the story he puts on your heart. Something else I recommend, Sue, don't read your online reviews. I encourage readers to post them because they're so needed these days (and can be all over the map because everyone has an opinion). But I also tell them that if they want me to read them, to please send them to me. Most do, and I respond (though it takes time to answer back). That advice was for free. Take or toss! :)

      Delete
  6. I used to compare myself to other Christians who were "doing more for the Kingdom" or who seemed to have a "perfect" life (family, spouse, kids, etc). But no more!! God got a hold of my heart and, if I remember correctly, I read something somewhere that just changed my whole perspective. I wished I could remember what that was, but I know God made me who I am and with the abilities and talents He has given for me. There is a scripture that comes to mind: 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 where it talks about different giftings each person has, and just because one person has the gift of prophecy doesn't' mean they are more important than the person who has the gift of healing. God puts his church together as ONE body with many members...and we ALL play a vital role! So comparing ourselves robs us of the joy of serving God in whatever capacity He has given us. There's always going to people who are supposedly better/prettier/more spiritual than us, but God expects us to shine in the way He made us to shine :-) And He loves us just as we are :-)
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of "To Win Her Heart" and for the great post today....very encouraging!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Trixi, for sharing your heart. And for doing it so beautifully. I love I Cor 12 when God talks about the body of Christ. We all need each other and everyone has their role to play. Different roles, but all vital to the kingdom. Bless you!

      Delete
  7. Thank you for your openness and willingness to share your heart. I do struggle with comparison to others even in my old age. I'm learned though that God has called us to different ways and talents to share Him and His word with others. As believers we are all on the same side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Karen. So well said. He's the potter, we're the clay. And we're all cracked pots (and Patsy Clairmont is fond of saying!). Much love, friend.

      Delete
  8. I'm totally guilty of comparing myself to others and their situations. I do pray about it, though - very often! I pray for joy in the Lord, regardless of my circumstances! It's a daily battle, struggle, and prayer time!
    Susan in NC
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a scene in TO WIN HER FAVOR when Maggie, the heroine, contemplates the same thoughts you share, Susan. And I found my own life lessons and struggles mirrored in that scene. It's a daily battle. But we can be victorious through the strength of Christ. My own strength falters and fails but his never does. Better for us to rely on his endless power supply instead of our own weak one (that's a daily reminder for me too). Hugs!

      Delete
  9. I am sure that I compare myself with others quite without thinking about it. I remind myself to Choose Joy each day! The Lord is my strength and helps me in my daily battle to remember that my Joy is found in Him!
    bettimace at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. With age comes wisdom. I have long stopped comparing myself to others. It does no good at all.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Tamera for sharing your very wise and encouraging post here on OWG today!! I think we have all experienced this in varying degrees! Anytime I find myself comparing my review writing, I try and use that to improve my craft, rather than letting it take hold of me in the form of envy or bitterness. Haha need to do that especially after reading fellow OWG reviewer Diana's reviews lol. But then she says the same about mine! ;) It's important in pushing ourselves, that we do it for the right reasons. Not to be like someone else or better than, but only because we want to grow and learn for ourselves. And in doing the best we can with whatever gift God has given us! God bless. Absolutely loved To Win Her Heart, I hope you can come by to read my review on Tuesday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly will, Noela. And I'll link to you too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. We can all relate! Hugs, friend.

      Delete
    2. Oh pls forgive my terrible error re your book title! To Win Her Favor, everybody, is the correct name!!

      Delete
  12. I still have problems with comparing myself with other people. The thing I try to do is pray to God and ask him to help me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Praying for you now, Tammy. Through Christ we are more than conquerers, and he'll enable you (His power, not yours, not mine) will overcome this tendency to compare. Just watch him work in your life! Love from Nashville...

      Delete
  13. Hello Tamera. Nice post you have for us. I think this has been a problem with all at some point in their life. I know I have said things like wishIng my hair could be curly when others I know have such pretty curly hair. But I always need to roll my hair.. Next thing I know they are wanting straight hair. They use those straightening irons. Crazy how no one seems satisfied. And, I often wish I could be as healthy as some of my friends. But then I realize that they may have lots of hurts too. And, most of those who can still do so much has always been active people and then I realize I wished I had been more active too. I think that is a big part of staying healthy, unless it's bad things like cancer, etc. One thing I think is that I'm happy without a lot of new things. I don't need new furniture as long as what I have is still good. I have a roof, tho a leaky one, over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a car that will get me to where I need to go. I must admit to wishing my car was better for I'm always worried about trouble on the streets. But, at the same time thankful to GOD that I have it. And, tho I hurt a lot, I can still do most of what I need to do, and when I complain I also tell GOD I'm thankful it isn't worse for it is for many. I loved your post and would love to win your book. And, will try to not wish I could still do some things others can do healthwise. GOD bless you all.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maxie, I sooo relate to what you said here "But at the same time, I'm thankful to GOD that I have it (the car)." So true. I constantly ask God to make me more grateful—and he does. Sometimes in painful ways. But I truly believe the root of so much of our discontent (with ourselves, our spouses, our lives, our careers) is because we're not grateful enough. We take too much for granted. I know I do. Praying for you now, and asking God to encourage your heart and soul, friend. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  14. Thank you so much for being with us this week on OWG, TAMARA! I have loved your books since forever! What an insightful, wisdom-filled post! Us women are very bad about comparing. I love what you said about envy leaving one empty, brooding, and bitter. I have never looked at it quite like that before. How many times have I envied a neighbor/church friend who seemed to have it all, only to find out I wouldn't want her life at all once I find out more! We never know what another person is going through sometimes.

    Yes, I do compare my reviews with Noela's (above) and mine always come up lacking. lol So I have learned not to read hers first or I will really have a struggle writing mine! But I'm envious in a good way -- happy that God has blessed her with such great writing talent! And thankful He has blessed me to write also, albeit a different style than others. Now how not to be envious of the lady down the street with the good figure and all her energy! haha I'm a work in progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true what you wrote: "...only to find out I wouldn't want her life at all once I find out more! We never know what another person is going through sometimes." Oh yes! Be careful what we pray and wish for! God knows best what we need and He's the giver of joy. And pain. Whatever our souls require to be drawn closer to him. Thanks for sharing! Appreciate you and how you use your gifts for him.

      Delete
  15. I think women have a much greater tendency to compare themselves with others. As I have gotten older it has gotten less, but still have to squelch those tendencies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So agree, Patty. Now that I'm in my 50s, I'm much more comfortable in my own skin, as they say. I know me. I know who I am—and who I'll never be. All things are possible with Christ, but "all things" is not necessarily what Christ has in mind for me. So best to follow his lead and keep in step with him. Hugs, friend, and thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  16. Thanks, Tamera for this interview which was very interesting and I appreciate your references to Scripture. I seldom revert to comparing myself to others, although I do on occasion when one of our Sisters gets an award or acclamation. At those times I have to tell myself that what I do is important and that I , like you, am doing God's will for me, and no one can do the ministry that I do with the elderly. Thanks for this wonderful contest. I loved your book "A Beauty So Rare" and sure would love to win this book as well. Sincerely, Mary Lou K I shared on Facebook and Twitter and tried to share on google.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I fall into the comparig heart all too easily. Often it's before I realize it, and then I'm awash in discouragement. It's my prayer that I will see myself through God's eyes, rather than through the lens of others.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Tamera, great post! Thanks for sharing your heart and at times for me is is really hard to watch those around me have success but I have to keep reminding myself that I'm on my own journey and no one else can travel that road. I have to keep reminding myself of that over and over! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks so much for visiting with us this week, Tamera, and sharing this guest post. I think for me the hard part is wanting to know how well my books are doing and part of that is looking at rankings. And also, with proposals, authors are asked to compare their writing to other authors'. As a psychologist for 25 years I've seen how harmful it can be to compare yourself to others -- and God doesn't like it either. Life's so short and we each have our own missions to focus on.

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's generally when I fall short of my own expectations (which are far higher than that of anyone else for me), that I will fall into the comparing trap. Half the time I'm not even comparing with someone else--I [stupidly] compare my end product with what I think it ought to have been. It's definitely something to work on. [sigh]

    ReplyDelete
  21. Well I did write something but it disappeared! Grrr I cannot find it!

    This is a great post, Tamera! I am going to try and remember all I wrote. And then try to write it again! I think I'm going to copy what I wrote before trying to publish it.

    I do remember saying something about where we need to seek Him more instead of comparing or judging ourselves to others. It is so easy to do in today's world. That's all I remember.

    Please don't enter me in the contest. I have the books on my Kindle.

    ReplyDelete

Google Analytics