incourage.me

I read her words and they were hot embers to my heart–

they burned glory, only glory, but in my humanity, I received them as a vicious personal assault.  The enemy hissed lies and I lapped them up like a ravenous kitten, allowing them to press into tender places, old scars, fresh bruises.

“You aren’t as good as her.”  ”You can’t write as well as she can.” “Why do you even bother?”

It happens in a heartbeat, in an unguarded moment, when I’ve allowed myself to forget Whose I am.

Waves of inferiority crash over me, knocking me off certain ground, threatening to pull me under, into darkness, away from light.

And it’s 100% true:  I will never write like her.

That’s how the enemy of our heart works–he mingles truth with lies and wagers we’ll believe the latter at the expense of the former, because there’s just enough truth to lend credibility to the lie.

Or at least this is his modus operandi for me.

It’s effective, isn’t it?

You might not be a writer, but I bet there are ways your spirit receives a similar assault–

I’ll never cook like her…

or dress like her…

or deliver a public address like her…

or perform and excel at work like her…

or be as pinteresty of a Room Mom as her…

or be as successful at [____________] as her.

We torture ourselves with unfair comparisons because they don’t tell the complete story.

When we do this we’re only comparing one aspect of another’s life to the whole of ours.  It’s illogical.  

No, I will never write like her, but the glory in that?  My glory in that?  God’s glory??

I’m not supposed to.

I am a unique creature of God’s careful design and He thinks I’m wonderful.

(So are you.)

I am the only me who has ever existed, who will ever exist.  When God made me, He broke the mold.

(Same for you.)

There is no one else who got to be the mother privileged to bear my children, no one else who can be the wife I’m destined to be for my husband, no one else who embodies all my quirks, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies.  No one else who thinks just like me, speaks just like me…and yes, writes just like me.

Some of you might be sick to death of this message.  I know several of my (in)courage authors have penned versions of this very thing, how comparison is the cruel thief to joy; not to mention the countless other places wise writers and speakers address “consent to inferiority.”  But it’s a particular vulnerability to women, I think; or at least we admit it more often.  Maybe that’s because images of perfection and “better” or “ideal” versions of The Perfect Woman / Wife / Mother / Writer / WHATEVER slam us EVERYWHERE– grocery store check out, internet, towering billboards, film and TV.

You and what you have to offer – your “Little Drummer Boy drummings” – have immense and intrinsic beauty, value, worth and desirability because, as is so easy not to remember, you are created in the image of God.

Have you ever thought of it this way?  If you withhold what only you have to offer, you’re withholding it from the Body of Christ – 

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”  ~ Romans 12:4-6a, ESV

Sometimes…sometimes Christian clichés infuriate me.  How many times have I heard or read (or said!), “To [do whatever you do] for an Audience of One.”  Maybe that’s true in some cases but it made me feel like a liar when it came to writing.  If it were true, I wouldn’t share my words in public places.

But…b u t…what IS true for me is to offer all I do to the glory of God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

* * *

The wave of inferiority from reading my friend’s beautiful, lyrical prose crashed over me…but almost as quickly, subsided.

Logic reminded me her words, talent and giftings were no assault or indictment of my inabilities. When I released comparison and let go of any imagined need to write like her, I was able to learn from and be inspired by her.  A funny thought struck me:  if I wrote just like her, it wouldn’t be nearly as appealing; instead, ordinary and familiar.

What if, when God made the rainbow, He made only bands of red?

Yes, it would be beautiful – how could an arc of color streaking across the sky not be?  But, oh, how we’d miss orange’s flame, yellow’s smile, green’s signs of new life, blue’s strength, indigo’s charm and violet’s majesty!

Rainbow’s pleasure to the eye is its colorful diversity, true.  But it’s treasure to the soul is its origin, author, its reason for being: a promise by a King.

The Body needs us to live our respective stories as only each of us can do.  Our broken world needs us to live our respective stories as only each of us can do.   If you sense a sinking spell where you’re starting to feel like “you can’t do it like her” remember this:  

She can’t do it like you.

T h a n k  God.

by Robin Dance

p.s.  Don’t Cry for me Argentina is an important post I’ve written with all women in mind–a battle cry for some, an encouragement to others. Do visit if you haven’t yet seen my new site? xo 

 

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  1. 1

    Robin, thank you.
    This is my first time of publicly writing this: last summer I went on an individual guided retreat. Whilst there the Lord prompted me to ask Jesus why He loved me. I asked and this is the response I received: I love you because you are made in the image of my Beloved Father.
    Your post this morning is a very much needed reminder of that interaction with Him.
    Thank you so much for writing as you do. It touched my heart and jogged my memory.
    Bless you xx

    • 2

      Ruth,

      What a special time this retreat of yours must have been; I’m honored for you to share about it publicly here, and also to affirm the significance of the message you received. Beautiful.

  2. 3
    Jasmine Wilson says:

    I’m glad you wrote this post, it struck so many chords with me, I like the way you write. It’s as if you wrote this just for me:) I especially like how you said:
    It happens in a heartbeat, in an unguarded moment, when I’ve allowed myself to forget Whose I am. Whose I Am, that’s all I needed to hear. Thank you God for this post, please bless Robin and her writing xx

    • 4

      Jasmine,

      “It’s as if you wrote this just for me” — a gift to me for you to say this, the very blessing over me for which you’ve prayed :) .

  3. 5
    Melanie Vanlaningham says:

    Robin, your message this morning is one I need over and over hoping one day it really sticks. I’ve spent way TOO MUCH of my life losing miserably in the comparison game. It steals joy, dashes dreams, and can completely immobilize a life. Recently I’ve seen myself as a little bird in a cage. The door is wide open but I can’t fly out because of fear that comes with the lies – “you’re not enough”. I do know they are lies, but as you said, the enemy knows to use just enough truth to tangle up our hearts. Thank you for sharing the TRUTH once again. I think today I’ll just be me. Blessings to you!

    • 6

      Melanie,

      One day at a time…sometimes minutes at a time, yes? Can we hear the essence of these truths too often? I think not! If I waver in my affections at all, if my mind starts to shift toward myself and not Christ, those are the times I begin to sink.

      Praying for YOU in this great hope, for you to always remember Whose you are! :)

  4. 7

    Thank you for this reminder, a boost to my morning :)

  5. 8

    Robin-

    Thank you for sharing this post….I have been in that same thought process that I couldn’t write like someone, however, through GOD’S gentle touch of grace, HE gave me the courage to continue writing. I realized that GOD’S word never comes back void, and so I trust that my hand guided by HIM, will touch and impact someone who reads. Yes, don’t compare yourself with anyone else, it is always a losing battle…..we are all made in HIS image. We are HIS beautiful daughters and we all bring something different to the table. KEEP WRITING!

  6. 9

    Love this! Just last week over on Velvet Ashes (an online community for women living abroad) we looked at the subject of “voice” — and having and using our own. I wrote about the importance of sounding like ourselves (http://www.messymiddle.com/2014/01/17/when-you-feel-deflated/) and can stand up and clap at the importance for each of us to sound like ourselves. Not always easy though, that’s for sure :) !

  7. 10

    Amen, sister! Thank you for YOUR words….oh, how they resonate with me.

  8. 11
    Heidi Beck says:

    I SOOOO needed this today! Thank you!

  9. 13

    Preach it, sister, because I’m listening.

    Love you, your heart, *and* your amazing talent with words. MUAH.

    • 14

      Kristen,

      You know my Achilles, right? :)

      And it hit me today, I HOPE NO ONE THINKS I was talking about an (in)writer!!! The person I’ve referenced has never even submitted a guest post to incourage (as far as I know)… :)

  10. 15

    This was so good. Thank you for sharing.

  11. 17
    Cindy Rogers says:

    I love this, how do I share it on Facebook?

    • 18

      Hey Cindy,

      Thank you for asking! You can share on Facebook a few ways–

      1) Below the post there’s a Facebook “Like” button; click that and add a comment (I THINK it allows you to say a few words, too.

      2) The other way is to copy and paste the link as your status; and you may do that by a) Sharing a quote from the piece or your thoughts on why people should read it, and then b) pasting the link. Some people insist more of your friends will see it if you put the actual post link in comments, not your original status. But I do both :) . Here’s the link to share:

      http://www.incourage.me/2014/01/when-you-arent-like-her-but-wish-you-were.html

  12. 19
    Leana Olivas says:

    Wow! Did this one open the floodgates or what? Very emotional because it is SO true,. When you have been told in several ways your whole life your NOT good enough …it is hard to not compare, or at least envy. The wounds of childhood and even as a young adult do not just go away, even IN Christ.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • 20

      Leana,

      I appreciate your honesty and candor; you’re right: we cannot erase our past nor the harm inflicted in time. Sometimes I think we do a disservice to the Body–pretending scars disappear because of Jesus! So…what good are they?

      To me, my scars are reminders, signposts. Sometimes for what was; sometimes to show me why I never want to go back. I can’t help but pray for your healing, that God will redeem those tender places in your life for his glory and your good, sweet sister.

      And thank you for encouraging me!

  13. 21
    Leana Olivas says:

    PS: Thank you for YOUR writing!! <3

  14. 22
    Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. I feel this message was intended for me at this very time. I have been holding back my gifts because I keep comparing them to others. For some time I have been feeling as though God is urging me to begin something important that requires abandon. I want to do what is right- what has been given to me- without comparing my methods or results to another. Thank you so much for these strong words- my heart is blessed.

    • 23

      Elizabeth,

      Do come back and share with me when you FOLLOW THROUGH? Let this be a holy nudge to encourage you? Just say yes?

      THAT will be a precious gift to me!! :)

  15. 24

    WOW….I want to copy ALL of your words to my journal….that’s A LOT of wonderful words that you have knitted together to form a most beautiful masterpiece!! So much of what you wrote really hit home to me. There are some areas of my life that I continually compare myself to others….it was so wonderful to read your outlook on this (hurting) area that we all go through. I know that your words have really made me rethink some of my comparison thoughts and wishes. I am thankful that I am ME. thanks for your encouraging words !

    • 25

      Deb,

      I debated writing this because it HAS been written about by so many, in places I’ve read all over the internet and beyond. But since I need to hear it in season, I hoped, trusted, believed it might be important for another to hear. Thank you for letting me know it was. I’m thankful to have been obedient in this instance :) .

  16. 26

    Wow! Just what I needed today! Comparison and , yes, jealousy have always been the things I struggle with! My customized lie is that I’m not enough- good enough, spiritual enough, pretty enough , likeable enough… And the list goes in. Thank you for your words ! They’re healing to my heart !

    • 27

      Bettina,

      Customized lies…one size does not fit all! I so hope your “not enoughs” are shrinking away. Healing comes in stages, and when you’re luckiest, quickly (rarely the case for me).

  17. 28

    Robin, this is so powerful. Yes, the message has been heard many times in many ways, but we need to hear it again. I needed to hear it again and I needed to hear it in your beautiful words. Thank you!

  18. 30

    As a pastor’s wife I am looked to and leaned on…for answers and comfort and encouragement and prayers. And I stand, sometimes weak and weary myself, pointing to Jesus. We each know so very well our internal voices and struggles, but rarely and oh.so.carefully share those with the external community. We compare our insides with others’ outsides…and if you are like me, it’s messy in here! My tangles won’t ever measure up to your tidy. But we’re comparing apples to oranges. Each of us are valuable, unique, cherished, His beautiful imperfect creation and the apple (&orange) of His eye! So, I try to swing open the front door of my messiness and invite others to come on in…it might be a bit messy in here, but it’s where I live. And Jesus lives here too!

    • 31

      Wendy,

      “We compare our insides with others’ outsides…”

      “My tangles won’t ever measure up to your tidy.”

      Are you a blogger? Because you’re one whale of a writer.

      xo

  19. 32

    Wow Robin, THIS really jumped out at me…”When we do this we’re only comparing one aspect of another’s life to the whole of ours. ”
    I need reminders such as your words here to live my life to its fullest, not comparing my gifts and talents against those of others. Thank you!

  20. 34

    Almost speechless here. Your words speak VOLUMES to my heart today! Celebrating our individualism MUST happen! We have to throw off the lies of the enemy and bask in the fact that God made us exactly the way we need to be in order to fulfill His plan for us. And an all-red rainbow wouldn’t be a rainbow at all!!! Things just wouldn’t be right.

    Love love LOVE this!!!! :)

  21. 36

    Great post! What an encouraging reminder. Yeah, maybe others have written on this, but like you’ve said, they haven’t said it exactly the same, and you said it for me today. We so easily slip into the delusion that the other woman’s life is picturesque because what you admire in her is rose colored glass for your eyes. I listen to the writers who are vulnerable enough to tell all the women it is a lie: they don’t have perfect – and this is something we ALL come gather together in.

  22. 37

    I’ve been struggling with envy for a long time, but your post reminded me that envy is a poison that kills the well of the Holy Spirit. There are many gifts, but only one Spirit (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact biblical passage).

    By celebrating our unique gift (even if it’s a similar gift to that of another), we give glory to God.

    And that’s our purpose in life. To glorify him!

    Thank you for sharing God’s glory.

  23. 38

    I’m so glad you posted this cos my writing is like no others and to be honest, it’s not even good. I just write what the LORD is speaking at that time and it’s not eloquent … no … nothing. Just fact. It happened. When I see other’s blogs that look so good, I have this inferiority about my own blog and then just … let the thoughts go. I need to proof read my stuff as well. I just type without looking. Thinking and just post. Encouraging post. :) For me as well.

  24. 39

    My precious grandmother, Neenie, always said for me, “Mollianne, remember who you are and more importantly remember WHOSE you are!’ Then she’d add something about being sweet {because she knew I wasn’t}. Your words reminded me of her today, as well as things I know in my head but need to know more completely and certainly in my heart. Thank you, sweet Robin, for this!

  25. 41

    Thank you so much. I just made my first offical website live. As a Theater artist and writer I have been striving to follow Gods leading and believe this is it. But the moment I announced the website live I felt attacked right away. Doubts, fear, anxious thoughts.

    All of this comes right at a time I need it!
    Thank you!

  26. 43
    Lynn Morrissey says:

    Robin, I have struggled and do struggle with this, so I don’t think you can say it enough–and you’ve proven that because God has made you uniquely, you may be singing the same theme, but in reality, you are singing a variation on the theme, just like composers write variations on themes, even in one work. Not that long ago when I was lamenting the talent of another author (NOT because I didn’t love her writing or enjoyed basking in the beauty of it and praising her work to others, but rather because I was lamenting that there would be no place for my writing), God spoke into my heart as only He can…….saying, in essence, that each author (or musician or artist or mother, etc) is but one small reflection of one small facet of the multi-faceted, multi-dimentional Diamond–the glory that is He!!!! Even if all the saints in all the world would be faithful constantly to reflect His glory, they simply couldn’t begin to capture His breathtakingly expansive nature and glory and beauty and truth. So *each* person’s God-given gifts are needed just to begin to reflect Him. Thank you for re-emphasizing this truth with a most meaningful, beautifully written, and heartfelt post. I see it streaking in God’s rainbow-regality across cyberspace straight into hearts.
    God bless you!
    Lynn Morrissey

    • 44

      Lynn,

      How much do I appreciate your word picture of God as multi-faceted diamond? A lot! For starters, it gives readers an image to consider, but also because I had that very thought, too! Thanks for sharing it here!! :)

  27. 46
    Joanne Peterson says:

    This so hits home. Like when my two little boys are acting up in a big way, and I see other mother’s children behaving so well, or when I am in public and I am struggling to manage my two boy’s behavior. Then I don’t even want to go out in public. Or my almost 4 year old refuses to potty train and I am so done with diapers, and in children’s church, or MOPS the other children have been done for quite a while. Or with me being in my 50′s now having adopted these two little boys (the Lord made it clear we were to adopt our boys) and I see my friends my age with freedom to do things they love to do, and I am struggling to even keep my house picked up. When I have had a day with my two boys, which is often, I question the wisdom of being their mother. Mothering as only I can most often does not feel like am enough when I am frustrated so often with my days.

    • 47
      Beth WIlliams says:

      Joanne,

      The sheer fact that you adopted these 2 little boys at your age is amazing. Mothering is never an easy task, but one that is highly regarded by God. I know God is smiling down on you each and every day. He will help you get through these rough patches.

      Prayers for you as you continue on your mothering journey and may God truly bless you for what you are doing! :)

      • 48

        Beth, Thanks for taking time to encourage Joanne.

        And yes, Joanne, you’ve rescued these little ones. God finds you worthy and I hope you’re able to trust that HE is enough in the midst of your chaos. Motherhood is HARD. All you can do is do the best you can with what you’ve got. That’s how fishes and loaves turned into a feast for many.

  28. 49
    Christina says:

    How your words touch a special spot in my heart…
    How your words struck my heart–
    Mothering I’m good at..
    Cooking, crafts and being a homemaker… I pretty good too…
    Being a wife, I don’t think I’m too bad at…
    Oh but comparison, I’m know what I’m not… and I see others prettier, skinnier, younger, smarter, healthier then I am, I have a difficult time. I tend to put myself down and be sad at what I’m not.
    Your words, they remind me of what God says and I just wanted to thank you. I normally don’t post comments, but I think I need to print out your words and keep reading them over and over.
    Keep writing and encouraging. I know I needed to hear your words today.

  29. 51
    Beth WIlliams says:

    Robin,

    I just love your writing! It is so to the point!

    I used to do this quite a bit at work. “Oh, I’m not a good as ___or smart as___, ergo I must be dumb, stupid ETC.” Boy did I believe those lies! Then it dawned on me no I may not be as good at ___ as others, but I am very good at ___ & ___. Maybe a little better than others.

    Over time I rid myself of the lies and all the comparison crap and started believing that I am God’s beautiful creation and put here on Earth to do specific tasks for His Kingdom.

    Thanks for posting! God Bless:)

  30. 53

    Thanks so much, Robin. Comparisons with other writers keeps freezing me up from writing more even when I feel God wants me to. So often when I read a book or posts, I think, “See… They express it so well. I’ll never be good enough.” Like Leana and others have said here, it’s so hard to get those negative voices from childhood from taking over. And some Christians make us feel like we lack faith if we still struggle with it. I love what you said to Leana, “Sometimes I think we do a disservice to the Body–pretending scars disappear because of Jesus! So…what good are they?” Thanks so much for understanding and caring.

    • 54

      Trudy,

      You make me think about when Peter walked on water. As long as he focused on Jesus, he could do it. But when his attention shifted elsewhere, he sank. Let’s (try to) agree NOT to look to the right or left, k? You and me both :) .

  31. 55

    I love this post! It is a subject that has been on my heart lately as well. I wrote about it at http://www.grace-full-life.blogspot.com. Thank you!

    • 56

      Meggie,

      I’ve stumbled across a few OTHER posts since I began writing mine! Isn’t that wild?? We all need to over our POV and share it, don’t we? Who knows which version someone will read and finally hear??!

  32. 57

    I know when you posted this, you weren’t asking for us to affirm you as an author….but! Whenever I see your name at the top, I get excited that I get to hear from you! Thanks for writing!

  33. 59

    Robin, what a beautiful post! I needed this so much. Since last year I’m struggeling so hard with all these bad thoughts about being imperfect and not like her oder her… or her. It’s easy to look at other women instead of living the beautiful Me as God made me. Why aren’t we proud of ourselves? Is there any reason while God want me as I am?
    Thanks! You encouraged me more than you may know!
    Be blessed!
    Rosie

  34. 60
    SueBeare says:

    Good for you! Thank you for posting this timely reminder for me and everyone else who stifles her own creativity.

  35. 61

    I don’t think you can remind us (women) too often about this. Part of the sermon last Sunday was about how we are the instruments and God is the musician…we will all sound different, but as long as He’s in control, the music will glorify Him.

  36. 63

    ‘LOVE the rainbow metaphor! It brings clarity to your message that all the people we admire and are a bit jealous of, make a glorious rainbow for us to ENJOY–not envy . Even more wondrous to contemplate, I am part of the rainbow, too!

    Yes, we’ve heard versions of this message before, but you’re right: one or two stabs at this monster of inferiority isn’t enough. Fresh tactics are needed every so often. Your rainbow idea is a perfect strategy!

    Thank you, Robin!

  37. 65
    D'Ann Martin says:

    I’ve never been happy with myself. I’d say I compare myself to others at least 75% of my day. I compare how I look to others, how my house looks to others, how sucessful I am to others and how I wish I was a better follower of Christ. Just about the only thing I don’t compare myself to others is the way I love my kids. I do compare the way I raise them, and often feel defeated when they act up, especially in public. I know my husband loves me dearly, yet I always wish I was better looking for him, cooked better for him, and kept the house imaculate for him. I have the head knowledge that these are all lies from satan, but yet I can’t seem to get out of the grip of comparison and feelings of inadequacy. Do you know what helps? When people like you are vulnerable and lay it out there how it really is. Thank you. An alcoholic may sober up, but he/she will always be one drink away from spiraling out of control. Comparison is my vice, and this post has helped me stay on the straight and narrow today. Don’t ever apologize for repeating the same lesson. Some of us will need to hear it for a lifetime…

  38. 66

    Oh sister, this is so me some days and it can be utterly crippling. Thank you for this post and your heart and words. You’re important and valued and loved in this community.

    Janelle