Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
// Megan Byers //
You know what’s getting really old? Comparison. Why do we do this ladies? Why? Why, when we look at other women, do we see all of the things or attributes or opportunities we do NOT have? Why do we hold ourselves up to the light to check for our flaws? Why do we place ourselves beside other women and play “spot the difference” like we should be the same but had a few aspects of our lives altered?
I have suffered from comparing myself to other women for far too long.
In high school, it was my childhood best friend’s other best friend. In college, I lost track. Everywhere I looked I saw women just like me, but better.
For a while, I found solace in the words of a priest, “you are a beloved daughter of God.” For a while, that was enough. I didn’t need to compare myself to other women because I knew that I was enough in the eyes of God. But after I met a new woman or discovered a new trait I lacked, it was no longer enough.
What saved me was not only knowing my identity but knowing how to combat comparison.
The first chapter in the gospel of Luke has the answer. Mary, young and unmarried, gave the ultimate yes to God. She was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived the Son of God. With this news, she set off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Their reunion is sweet, filled with the Holy Spirit, and joyful!
When I read this passage I think of what I would have felt if I were in their shoes.
If I were Elizabeth, I would have been jealous that after years and years of struggling with infertility, someone upstaged me. Mary didn’t even have to try to become pregnant. I spent years facing the judgement of my community that thought my lack of children was punishment for my sins. The second I conceive, not only is she having a baby, but Mary comes strutting over pregnant with the SON OF GOD. “I’m so happy for you” would have tasted like vinegar coming out of my mouth.
If I were Mary, I would have been jealous of my married cousin that wouldn’t have to face being stoned to death if Joseph refused me. I wouldn’t have gone to Elizabeth to rejoice with her, I would have been jealous that she was guaranteed a husband that would protect her and provide for her. I would have been ungrateful and terrified.
PRAISE GOD I AM NOT EITHER ONE OF THEM. PRAISE GOD FOR THE JOY OF MARY AND ELIZABETH!
Praise God that instead of focusing on the specifics of their situation, they saw the gift.
Because of their example of joy, I learned how to rejoice with my sisters. I learned how to champion their dreams and celebrate their achievements. I learned how to praise God for the gifts He gives to my friends. I learned how to stop comparing my life to the lives of my friends through rejoicing. I learned to see the gift!
I noticed recently that my struggle with comparison hasn’t gone away, not completely. See, it’s adapted to my season of life. As I mature, so does comparison.
I don’t necessarily want exactly what my friends have, but I want something. I’m still happy for my friends and I love to rejoice with them, but I wonder when they will be the ones rejoicing with me.
Now I need to learn how to celebrate others without expecting anything for myself. This new type of comparison comes from a desire to be celebrated. I want my life to be a cause for rejoicing.
I noticed this after a dear family friend asked about a recent interview I had. When I said I hadn’t heard anything I could see the disappointment in her eyes. Not disappointment in me, but for me.
What if I could have shared exciting news in that moment? There would have been rejoicing. We would have praised the Lord for his goodness. We would have had our own Visitation moment!
I don’t know about you, but that “what if” doesn’t sit right with me. That “what if” is stealing the joy of living in the present and receiving the Holy Spirit.
I want to learn how to rejoice in my current situation and invite others to do the same! I don’t want others to feel disappointed for me because they know my desires aren’t being fulfilled.
I feel like I have come to a dead end. I don’t have any advice. I haven’t overcome this strand of comparison quite yet, but I have hope.
Ladies, our lives are always worth celebrating. We don’t need to reach big milestones in order to rejoice. The joy of the Visitation is available to us every day, through the Holy Spirit. If comparison is the thief of joy, then we are going to combat comparison with the Holy Spirit. We are going to steal joy back!
Not unlike the Apostles in the upper room, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit! She proclaimed the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. She rejoiced with her sister! She saw the gift.
The Visitation is a story about the power of the Holy Spirit. The Visitation is a story about how two women received the Holy Spirit into their lives and didn’t allow their joy to be stolen!