20140402_MaryCarver_Boxer

You know how they say the best defense is a good offense?

Of course, I’m not sure who “they” are. I was never much of an athlete. Truth be told, I was more of a trip-over-my-own-two-feet-during-the-game type of girl. (Oh, how I wish that wasn’t a real story!) Still, the advice seems to be common enough that both the sporty and not-so-sporty types can understand it.

It’s better to land the first punch. We’re safer if we hit them before they hit us. Right? I suppose this strategy works in a lot of circumstances. Boxing. Basketball. Facebooking.

Oh, wait. Maybe not that last one.

See, I’ve noticed that a lot of the icky comparison games so many of us find ourselves playing – that I find myself playing – are motivated by fear. We’re afraid others will hurt us, so we strike first. On those days we feel insecure or unhappy about our less-than-perfect lives, we lash out rather than waiting for someone to notice our humanness and point it out for the world to see.

We walk around, convinced we’re not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough or crafty enough, not organized enough or successful enough. And in an effort to hide those fears – and protect ourselves from the insults and injuries we’re certain are inevitable, we put up our defenses.

And those defenses look a whole lot like offenses.

Sometimes being this offensive defense looks like judging other women. Surprisingly, though, it doesn’t always mean we’re judging each other for doing things badly. No, sometimes, I think, we’re more likely to judge the woman who seems too put together, too successful, too happy than we are to judge one who’s more like us (or at least how we feel inside) – stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated or tired.

Going on the offense by being defensive might also look like self-deprecation. This is my weapon of choice. I’d much rather poke fun at myself than wait for you to do it. At least this way I’m in control and it doesn’t hurt as much. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

For example, you might not care at all if my daughter hasn’t had a vegetable in three days, but I’m quick to announce it anyway, usually with a joke that I’ve been nominated for Mom of the Year.

Funny, right? Maybe.

But the truth is – every time we judge another woman for “trying too hard” or make fun of ourselves for being less than perfect, we’re not defending ourselves from anything. Instead, we’re weighing ourselves down with negativity, twisted words and buried emotions. And honestly? We’re weighing each other down while we’re at it.

I say we quit that.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up,
as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear.
~ Ephesians 4:29

Let’s quit the comparison game, the no-win competition where we judge each other for successes just as harshly as we judge each other’s failures. Let’s quit comparing the intimate knowledge of our own weaknesses and struggles with the top-line version everyone else presents in public.

And let’s stop making sure we land that first punch on our own hearts, shall we? [Yes, I promise I am talking to myself here!] Fine, so we know ourselves well enough to know where we fall short. But let’s give ourselves a little grace – and trust others to do the same.

Let’s lower our defenses – and raise a white flag of peace. Let’s stop beating ourselves – and each other – up. Because maybe the best defense, the best offense is by not seeing this life and our relationships as a battle in the first place. Maybe we find heart-safety by surrounding ourselves with “weapons” that look like honesty and grace and good, old-fashioned love rather than criticism and sarcasm.

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God
with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
The entire law and all the demands of the prophets
are based on these two commandments.”
~ Matthew 22:37-40

Photo by Ivan Sciupac
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  1. 1

    Amen! Thank you for sharing. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed earlier in the comparison lies and quickly reminded myself it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with our amazing God. What a beautiful reminder this evening. Thank you!

  2. 2

    Mary,
    Ahh…self-deprecation. I do it well. I am, by nature, not a high energy person. You won’t find me running circles around my family in our house. I too often compare myself to those who do and then land a self punch by being sarcastic about my clutter or housekeeping skills. Amen to loving ourselves as much as we love others. Thanks for a great post this am.!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  3. 3

    Wise words! Thank you

  4. 4

    Oh, whoa…guilty…thank you. :)

  5. 5

    Wow this was great Mary! How subtle the enemy can use our “humor” in self deprecating as a cover up to our pride and insecurity. I loved the part of saying you would rather point out your faults than wait for someone else to (who probably isn’t even noticing!). Never really thought about Eph 4:29 applying to the words I say and think about myself…good conviction this morning!

  6. 6

    Ouch. I do this all the time, I throw the first punch at myself. I often sense the Spirit chiding me when I do. I had never thought to apply Ephesians 4:29 to myself, this is something I will change. Today.

  7. 7

    What a good idea. I’m in.
    The best form of defence is attack. This is what we do in sport. We attack.
    So, I’ve changed.
    I was taught to turn my back on my fellow sporting athletes and attack them there pins.
    So, I’ve changed and have mellowed.
    :)
    Life changing JESUS’ Presence is. Right.
    :)
    I’m in.
    :)

  8. 8

    Thank you, Mary, for your grace-filled words. This really ministers to my heart. Yes, let us be kinder to ourselves and to others, whether it be in failure or success. Thank you for the reminder and for the verse from Ephesians.

  9. 9

    A-MEN! It’s seems the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. It used to be the perfectionist judged the ones that didn’t seem to have it all together like them, now the not so well put together have banded together and condemn and judge the natural perfectionists, crafty, go getters. (that made more sense in my head!)
    Why is it so hard to just get along and accept each other the way we are? We’re all just doing the best we can with what we have and know.
    Grace. Love. Peace!!

  10. 10

    Absolutely spot on, Mary! You’ve got the encouragement thing DOWN!

  11. 11

    This is an insightful look into what all of us do sometimes, that false-pride, false-humility thing. It is usually motivated by fear and a healthy dose of inferiority and then bam!, the words come out. I think your point about this behavior stemming from judging others under the guise of self-deprecation is interesting – and one that we all need to sit with for a while. I know I do.

  12. 12

    You are speaking to my heart ((♡)) today. Thank you so very much!!

  13. 13

    I so LOVE this. Father has been dealing with me about “doing away with the putting forth of the finger”, and this is right in line with where my thoughts have been lately. Thanks for the silent accountability to honor Him in my attitude and relationships.

    Blessings!

  14. 14

    I must say like the publican i do rather glory at times in my weakeness, i believe if for the right motives. I agree the comparison game is a no win. Tho i do glory that even tho David was handsome God was more concerned with his heart, than his appearance. Thats my job, the time and energy it takes to get my own heart right will not allow me opportunity to really worry about you. Here in line the facebook stalker. If i was being fed, cared for and my needs properly met, i would be so full as to not be ill concerned with what you are doing. Then people i interact with will be people i love and choose to spend time with not bc i want to spy on them

  15. 15

    Thank you for this:)

  16. 16

    {Kathy} Wow. I needed to read this today. Thank you for showing how competition can be unbiblical.

  17. 17

    because, we are PREAPPROVED!

  18. 18

    Thank you Mary for sharing your insights. It had been a long day of pouring out my heart and mind in my job as an encourager to others, so I came home to collapse on the couch. Then my husband talked to our adult daughter and said she’d be coming by. I moaned “Oh I am so brain dead, I hate feeling all used up and having nothing left to give to my family at the end of the day” I thought it sounded like authentic self disclosure, but apparently not because his response was “Ohhhh, its Sooooo hard to be a Lainer” (Think of it sounding like what you might say to a whiny toddler) So I guess I was having a pity party, and not really loving myself with my self disclosure! Somedays we just can’t get it all right and as hard as we try, it really necessitates total unabashed dependence on the Father! But, Praise Him, she didn’t come over and I am redeemed. Truly and with a self deprecating laugh!

  19. 19
    Beth WIlliams says:

    I do this constantly–especially at work. I’m to quick to point out how “stupid, dumb, not good enough” I must be to be given what I consider to be menial tasks at work while some of my training isn’t even being used to its fullest extent. It’s tough when you’re working with more educated people and can’t shine as brightly as they do.

    The evil one is quick to remind me, but I always try to lash back with scripture and remind myself that no task was to menial for Jesus! :)

    Thanks for a great post!

    Blessings

  20. 20
    Tetyana says:

    I sorry but please pray for Ukraine. She needs God`s protection, His peace, His healing, and repentance, and forgivness.