When I read her words, they felt like hot embers. They burned glory — only glory — but fueled by old insecurities, my humanity received them as a personal assault. The enemy hissed lies, and I lapped them up like a ravenous kitten, allowing them to seep into tender places and to pick at old scars.
You aren’t as good as her.
You can’t write as well as she can.
Why do you even bother?
Waves of inferiority crashed over me, unsteady feet slipping into darkness. Defeat happens in a heartbeat in unguarded moments whenever I allow myself to forget Whose I am.
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. How? 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 have as perfect of a marriage or a family as her . . .
or be as talented as her . . .
or look and dress like her . . .
or have as many friends and followers as her . . .
or have as dynamic and successful of a career as her . . .
or be as Pinterest-y of a room mom as her . . .
or be as successful at ____________ as her.
We torture ourselves with unfair comparisons, but 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. You’ve probably heard the quote by pastor Steven Furtick: “We compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.“ We’ve all done it, but that doesn’t make it any less logical.
Suppose I did write like her or you can fill in the blank with your own comparison — what would be the benefit in that? Imagine attending a symphony where the orchestra, loaded with accomplished musicians, played only a singular note. That one note might be beautiful, but it would be awfully boring, and what a waste of talent! Similarly, what if when God made the rainbow, He made only bands of red? Sure, 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!
God created us unique for a reason: His glory. Our differences and diversity reveal God’s complexity and imagination and the special ways He intends for us to reflect His goodness and grace and glory to a world in need.
I am the only me who has ever existed, who ever will exist. There is no one else who gets to be the mother of my children, 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. When God made me, He broke the mold — the same can be said for you.
“Consent to inferiority” is a particular vulnerability to women, or at least I think we admit it more often. Images for the perfect woman/wife/mother/writer/whatever are everywhere we turn. Yet, you and what you have to offer – your “Little Drummer Boy” drummings – have intrinsic beauty and immense worth. But 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 12:4-6 (ESV)
Comparing ourselves to others is not only defeating, it’s damaging to us spiritually because we’re focusing on the wrong thing — ourselves instead of God. To embrace who we are in light of who God is and to offer our unique selves in an expression of gratitude reorient our focus back to God.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
The wave of inferiority from reading my friend’s beautiful, lyrical prose crashed over me but quickly subsided as I realigned my thinking. What I knew to be true reminded me that her words, talents, and gifts were no assault or indictment of my inabilities. When I was freed from comparison, I was able to learn from and be inspired by her. And then a funny thought occurred to me: if I wrote just like her, her writing wouldn’t be nearly as appealing but instead ordinary and familiar.
The Body of Christ and our world need us to live our respective stories as each one of us is uniquely designed to fulfill.
But if you sense a sinking spell where you’re starting to feel like you can’t do it like her, hold fast to this: she can’t do it like you either.
The Body of Christ and our world need us to live our respective stories as each one of us is uniquely designed to fulfill. -@robindance: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
After reading this, I just want to shout “Amen!” I once heard a phrase and it’s stuck with me: “To criticize the creation (me) is to criticize the Creator (God).” I don’t tend to criticize God about other aspects of His creation. I marvel at majestic mountains. I breathe in the salt air of the crashing ocean waves. I stop and watch a pinky purple sunrise. Yet, I criticize God’s crowning glory of creation – me. The enemy know that this is the Achilles heel of many women and he is all too happy to jump on the criticism bandwagon. He wants to take us down and giving him a foothold with our negative self-talk is just inviting him in. That’s the time I need to close down social media and open my emergency kit of scriptures that speak of how much He loves me and how fearfully I am made. The comparison game is ALWAYS a losing game. Awesome post to rally us to right thinking!
Robin Dance says
Bev, you always have such thoughtful and encouraging responses…thank you. I love the idea of an “emergency kit” of scriptures–I’m imagining a stack of index cards with verses that can diffuse the lies so easily believed. My friend, Courtney, gave a small group of women I’m a part of a few cards on a binder ring to record our favorite scriptures; she hangs hers on the steering column of her car so she can flip through them when she’s waiting on kid pick-up, or anywhere else she is when she needs those reminders :).
Tracey Noble says
Bev, your message needs an Amen button. 🙂 <3
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Thank you for this lovely, encouraging post. I completely travel off and on the road of, “if only I could be like/write like her/him”….your words will now send me in a different direction which leads to God and not my pit of “never good enough” ❤
Robin Dance says
Pivot!! Yes, Kathleen :). How many times a day do we need to reorient our thinking?
Kirsty Visser says
Thank you for this read, Robin!
I love the last paragraph ! Powerful !! So good and encouraging to remember that no-one can do it like we can and we are uniquely made for a purpose ♥️
Robin Dance says
<3 your comment made me smile (and I need those reminders, too!).
Yess, thank you for this word. I had so many failed relationship and I’m always comparing myself with other women. Even at work. Please pray for me, to fix my thoughts on what is true and my Heavenly Father.
Robin Dance says
I AM praying for you right now (and I prayed for every reader who would see these words) to know the truth of how God sees you and cherishes you. Don’t feel discouraged if you need reminders a thousand times a day. We’re a forgetful people :).
Dawn Ferguson--Little says
We are all special in our own way God made us all beautiful in his own image. We are all Daughter’s of the King. On youtube you should listen to the Father’s Love Later. It tell us just how much God loves us how special we arw in his eyes. Thar we don’t need to wish we where like this person or that person. Remember no one has your hair color your eye color no can speak like you or write like you. No one can do the special things you can. No one is made the way you are. You are special in your own way. You don’t need to wish you where like that person. Could do what that persob can do. God gave you talents of your own. Be proud he did be proud God see you as beautiful no matter what man says. It what God says that matters. I used to think I was no beautiful and I didn’t matter as I was when at school years ago bullied. That is years ago. No one liked me. Until I learned God like me and he saw me as beautiful and that I am a Daughter of the King. It don’t matter what man thinks. I had to get prayer for that. Now I can hold my head high in the air. Knowing I am a Daughter of the king who sent his son to die for for me. That how much he loved me. I am beautiful in his eyes. His word tell me that. I say Amen to that. So I don’t need to wish I could be like someone else. God made me who I am. I don’t need to change that as God does not want me ever to change that. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little
Robin Dance says
Dawn, I’m so glad God has worked in your own mind and heart to teach you truth. The complex thing about our faith is how he calls us to him, and then asks us to die to our selves so that Christ will live. When we take hold of that, everything changes <3.
Barbara Schultz says
Thank you so much for writing this, Robin. Even at 66 years old, I still find it very hard to believe I am someone that people would enjoy being with, who can do something others will appreciate, who can hold her head up and say that, ‘I am the only me who has ever existed, who ever will exist.’ But God . . . I know He loves me, more than I can ever imagine! He created me to be who I am, and He can increase in me the knowledge that I am loved, not only by Him, but by those people who DO love me. It’s an uphill struggle to fight against the enemy’s reminder of a lifetime of negative words and actions from others, and from my own self-doubt of my worth. But God . . . Thank You, Lord, for calling me Yours and giving me the gifts which I will use for Your glory.
Robin Dance says
Barbara, DON’T LET THE ENEMY WIN!! RESIST those stupid lies of his! I love your honest prayer at the end of your comment…just beautiful :).
Michele Morin says
Wow, Robin, I know these words are going to resonate for SO many, because we are continually bombarded with perfect lives and perfect people and success in all kinds of ways that are over the top and out of our league. I do think the writing live rubs salt into those wounds because we have to “put ourselves out there” in order to be read, and in doing so, we risk rejection.
I love your conclusion that you will never write “like her,” and that’s a very good thing. Very grateful today that you write like Robin and share the unique message God has whispered in your heart.
Robin Dance says
Awww, Michele….you made me smile. Thank YOU for encouraging me so sweetly today! xoxo
I struggle with this daily, but what I think is the most painful is when mutual friends eagerly jump to support someone else’s creativity and passion (and I do that for a lot of people) and say it is important to do so, but then are silent towards me. I know we are supposed to give without thought to receiving, but creativity = vulnerability, and to have that unsupported by those we care about is devastating at times. Although not Scriptural, I’m sure, I wonder if God has favorites and the rest of us get the leftovers.
Sometimes people think we don’t need support, but obviously that other person does; or sometimes one creative project/endeavor/type-of-thing resonates with people and something else just doesn’t. What “clicks” with each of us isn’t universal; what we create may “click” with a ton of people or with a scattered few – but that scattered few may be thoroughly blessed by our unique contribution. I admit, sometimes I am deeply skeptical whether specific “art” forms could *possibly* appeal to *anyone* – but then reading the responses often tells me, nope, it’s just not for me.
What we get might look like unwanted leftovers, but it’s a meal designed specifically for our nourishment (including discipline and training to persevere without plaudits and learning to rely on God rather than on human beings), not the discarded sandwich-crusts of someone else’s better deal.
(but: been there, done that, “why not meeee?” – and God knows exactly what’s going on in the full work of personal and global redemption and who God wants each of us to become and what God wants each of us to do. So we keep obeying; keep doing the small things and the large things with or without applause; and someday we’ll see what the full mosaic looks like and how our this-isn’t-impressive dull-beige piece of it fits in.)
Robin Dance says
You know what I think, Shelly? Clicks (or Likes) don’t actually mean what they present to mean…but something far different. Both when we give them, and when we receive or don’t receive them. But maybe that’s another story for another time :).
In the meantime, I h.e.a.r. you. I’ve been in those exactly shoes and they hurt! (I’m working on behind-the-scenes things for my book, For All Who Wander, that releases in January, and the timing of your comment is so relevant to several chapters in the book; my version of similar feelings).
The TRUTH you need to cling to is what the Lord says about you in his word. You KNOW that, I can sense it. But those blasted lies are credible; our feelings can deceive us. The enemy who delights in heart break celebrates victory when we forget who we are in Christ. So, yes…I’ve prayed for you to REMEMBER, sweet one. Who you are and WHOSE you are. God is at work in you, and he wants to bring you into deeper intimacy with himself. I’m convinced of that. xo
Robin, Wow! Your words have spoken to me this morning. I’m just starting in my writing career as a Columnist. I’ve read so many others’ writings. I often find it easy to compare my writing to others. But, most days I do read others ’ writing and it inspires me, like yours this morning!
You’ve lit my fire and I constantly remind myself, that the mold was broken after me. I have my own unique and quirky traits.
Robin Dance says
I love your last sentences :). They remind me of the silly expression, “I don’t suffer from my insanity; I enjoy every minutes of it.” 🙂 I wanted to applaud your perspective of being inspired by great writers; it’s so much more to learn from them than to compare, isn’t it?
And, CONGRATULATIONS in your new career!!
Thanks, Robin! Such a needed and timely message! Peace and blessings to you.
Robin Dance says
Received with joy and thanksgiving, Tonya :).
I loved your write up . well said ! when I was young I struggled with that; although I had a mother constantly telling me all the lies of the enemy too. once I became christian and started my own life those lies seemed small and dwindled away. in her old age she still sputterers lies to anyone whom she can take down with her words of hurt & hate. I’m a daughter of the king and know exactly my own worth so these words bounce off. don’t believe others harsh hateful words , they are usually ALWAYS from their own brokenness. knowing who we are takes some time in life but when we find it we can do wonders ! stand strong ladies you are all special and God doesn’t make mistakes in giving us things we can’t do because he equally fills us up with our own gifts and talents !
Robin Dance says
How wonderful that you’ve risen above your mother’s brokenness; that you recognize who you are as God’s daughter. And YES! to celebrating each of our own unique gifts! THAT is reason to give thanks :).
Beth Williams says
I love the phrase “Drummer Boy Drummings. That is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It speaks of having nothing to give a king for his birthday. One thing he could do is play his drum for him. That is all God asks of us. Do whatever we can to help His kingdom grow. He doesn’t ask us to do everything. We aren’t all made the same. He gave us unique gifts & He expects us to use them. For that reason I don’t do much social media. I’m not as good as others at lots of things. One thing I can bring to the table is a willingness to help out in any way possible. You need tables cleaned, errands ran, food cooked-I’ll do those things as best I can. Like Bev said calling our talents inferior is the same as calling God inferior. We are criticizing the creation. God thinks we are perfect just the way we are. So I can’t sew or write books, but I can encourage, sit with or go to the hospital with you. Here’s a quote by John Wesley that I live by: “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”
Robin Dance says
I love that quote, Beth :). And this I DO know: you are a wonderful part of the (in)courage community as a cheerleader, thoughtful commenter, and reflector or Jesus :D.
Patty Joyce says
Our Accountability prayer group did a study/project on creation for adolescent children. The children responded with their own creativity and style–again God’s signature of uniqueness. Not one child commented that they wished their project looked like another’s.
Oh, that we adults, especially women, could finally accept who we are and that each of us is an integral part of the Body of Christ.
We each are a work of the Master.
The funny thing I thought about while reading your post is that I had been scrolling through my email to find a quick uplifting post to read (among the many in my inbox) during my 5-minute work break, and when I saw your name I thought “Oh I always like what Robin writes….” 😉
This is beautiful. And SO needed! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your insecurities and thoughts with us. It is a gift to me for the glory of God. And an inspiring example to follow and express in my own way. Thank you, friend.