Yesterday, my daughter and I met my friend Kim for coffee. For context, Kim was wearing an adorable exotic, boho caftan and I was wearing black leggings, a Run DMC muscle tee, and a jean jacket. I hadn’t showered or washed my hair. Kim looked fresh and fabulous. I am very tall. Kim is not-so-tall. I am not preggo in the least. Kim has the cutest baby belly on the planet.
The contrast was striking.
At one point in the conversation, my daughter had a really on-point observation to contribute to our conversation, “My mom doesn’t care about what she wears AT ALL.”
I’d love to say this was offensive, but the truth is the girl was a truth-teller. When I got ready to leave the house that morning I literally told myself, “Just wear whatever. It’s all fine.”
Hence the let’s-leave-the-house-in-an-It’s-Tricky-tank-and-leggings-with-pockets-situation.
Contrast can make space for comparison pretty quickly if we aren’t paying attention. We can easily get swallowed up in defeat if we aren’t living with our eyes wide open to the word of God, fighting to live awake to our purpose and to God’s great love for this world of people, full of differences and so incredibly diverse. I have begun to believe the Holy Spirit is around constantly, saying the same thing again and again and again:
“Stay woke, God-people.”
Case in point: I posted something on Instagram a few weeks ago about comparison. It wasn’t a photo I personally took. It was a letterboard that I found and saved months ago that read, “We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated by purpose.” (Note: I’d love to tag the person who created the image, but I don’t know where I found it. If you know who made it, LMK!)
This image traveled around the world and back again, getting many times more traffic than any of my other recent posts. It’s just a letterboard, and I post those every week, so I know the image itself wasn’t the hook that grabbed everyone. The message of the words exposed that we are a people plagued by comparison. We are constantly facing the contrast of our “80s lyrics muscle tee lives” sitting beside the backdrop of the lives of other people that seem infinitely more attractive and interesting.
It’s tricky to stay awake to our purpose when we’re sucked in by comparison.
Comparison lies to us and tells us that the opinions of our daughters or the loveliness of our friends prove our greatest fear may be true: we are less significant than we long to be. We have given up and donned our stretchy pants in defeat. We have been sucked into the meaningless world of “It’s fine.” We may never show up fabulous again because maybe we didn’t have what it took to start with.
But comparison is a liar.
We are all more than caftans or leggings. We are more than introverts or extroverts. We are more than a job title or a personality type. We are more than any label the world offers us because we are God’s image-bearers and justice-bringers. We are his glory-singers and storytellers. We are all full of life in different ways, regardless of our current obvious lack-of or proof-of fertility or fruit. We are all birthing God’s glory in this world when we live fully awake to his call on our lives to believe what he says about us is more true than the contrast created by our circumstances in this world that is so often less-than-gracious.
The tricky thing about believing we are significant is that so many hours of our days seem mostly insignificant.
I woke up this morning before everyone else. I had early morning responsibilities that took me out of the house while it was still dark. I pulled on leggings and made a quick cup of coffee and slipped out into the not-quite-awake-yet world. This is not the morning routine I would choose. I’d like more time. I’d like more beauty sleep. I’d like to care more about what I wear than my 6 am alarm allows. I’d like to wake up to big mountains to climb and exciting possibilities instead of dutiful minutiae that no one even knows is happening.
But all around me is the voice of God, waking me up to all he has been doing while I have been sleeping. He has been reaching out to the broken. He has been speaking his purpose into the lives of people who are done comparing themselves to anything except God’s word. He has been weaving us into his great, big plans for the world and right now I am the woman in leggings, doing what must be done so her family can grow and thrive and learn to love God and others better and better.
My part in God’s plan is small, like the pockets in my leggings. But smallness has never equated with insignificance in God’s Kingdom. We are all small compared to God. God’s love builds a bridge between our small lives and his great purpose for us. The question is, are we brave enough to follow Jesus across that bridge and find out what it means to get closer to a whole world of people who are so incredibly different than we are? Will we set our hands to helping and healing what we know is broken around us? Will we listen to the voices no one wants to hear? Will we love the outcast and the marginalized?
Sure, it’s tricky. But in John 17 Jesus prayed we would have joy and protection in this world. He asked the Father to make us all one with him. He said he was sending us into the world the same what the Father had sent him.
The contrast between Jesus and us all is quite shocking. May the sight of him wake us up and teach us how to love everyone as he does, including ourselves. In the end, what can compare with that?