What About Her?

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When I was in high school there was a girl in my class who was both a good friend and an arch rival.

The problem was we were too much alike- we were both good at music, we had similar interests, we liked the same guys… It meant we got on well because we had a lot in common, but it also meant that everything became a competition.

When she was promoted to the senior band before I was, she gloated, even though I knew it was only because less people played her instrument.  When I joined her there a few months later and was given an important solo I felt that I had got ahead.  She gained a place at a prestigious music academy; I won a prize for music performance.  On and on, back and forth it went for three whole years.

Looking back, I’m sorry we allowed our friendship to be damaged in that way.

Why couldn’t we have celebrated one another’s success and supported one another?

It’s not a new problem.  As we continue this series looking at questions people asked Jesus, today we come to a question from Peter.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples.  He has a conversation with Peter, dealing with his three-time denial and reinstating him as his follower and, in the course of this conversation, Jesus gives Peter a glimpse of what lies ahead- a death that would glorify God: “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”  (John 21:18 NLT)

Peter’s immediate response is to look around him: “Peter turned and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved… Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?””  (John 21:20-21 NLT)

It’s as if Peter wants to compare his assignment to John’s.  His destiny doesn’t sound so great.  What about John?  Is he getting a better deal?  I think it’s a natural tendency to look to others and to compare ourselves- we want to get a sense of how well we’re doing and, if we’re honest, to feel that we are doing better than others.

It’s a natural tendency, but it’s not helpful, and Jesus puts a stop to it straight away:

“Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  As for you, follow me.””  (John 21:22 NLT)

If we want to truly follow Jesus, our focus has to be on him.  He is the one we should be looking to please and, rather than being distracted by what others are doing or how we are measuring up, our efforts should be focused on doing what he wants us to do.

With that focus, we can get rid of jealousy, competition and comparison, and when we do, it is powerful.  I definitely don’t always get it right but in a recent work situation which could easily have given rise to competition and comparison, two colleagues and I chose solidarity and support instead, and it was interesting to see how much of a surprise that was to certain people around us.  It is a much, much better way.

It’s a challenge though, and if this is a topic you would like to look into some more, I’d recommend a new book, which comes out tomorrow (March 6th): Why her? by Nicki Koziarz.

In it, Nicki shares some of her own battles with comparison, she digs into the biblical story of Rachel and Leah and looks at their struggles with comparing themselves to one another, and she identifies six key truths that can help us gain a better perspective.

Her writing is honest, filled with humour and real-life examples, and always points back to truth.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

“This uniquely beautiful, unexplainable life that God is building in each of us was never meant to look exactly like someone else’s, regardless of the message our culture shouts at us.”

“We need to remember, when looking at people’s lives that appear perfect to us, there’s probably a not-so-perfect story happening there that’s never going to be told.”

“We have to trust God so much that if He doesn’t give it to us, we don’t want it.”

“God’s purpose isn’t a battlefield for competition.  It’s a safe haven of calling.”

why her quote

You can find out more about the book here and order on Amazon at these links: UK, US.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is also running an online study working through the book, beginning on April 9th.  You can find out more about that and sign up to take part here.  I have taken part in a few Proverbs 31 studies in the past and have always enjoyed the chance to work through a book in community.

I’m grateful to B&H Books and Netgalley for access to a complementary digital copy of this books in exchange for an honest review.  I only share books here that I believe will be genuinely beneficial to my readers.
Amazon links are not affiliate links, but simply provided for your convenience.

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42 thoughts on “What About Her?

  1. This sounds like such an important book in our comparison-oriented culture. Social media gives us all a window into the “perfect” lives of others, and only by the grace of God can we embrace with gratitude our own mundane lives — which are probably just like the mundane lives of our friends, but they don’t share pictures of their full laundry hampers and half-loaded dish washers . . .

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  2. I very much enjoyed her first book so I will be checking out this one too. It is so true. We all will face this battle at one time or another. May God grow a heart in me to celebrate – celebrate the goodness and successes and blessings of my friends!

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  3. Thank you for reminding me that comparison damages friendships–this has happened to me several times, and it’s such an insidious thought pattern that I often don’t realize it until I’ve been sucked into it…again.

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  4. The story you shared of you and another girl in competition throughout high school reminds me of a similar story I had from high school. It also had to do with music but instead it was vocal performance and there was the same push and pull and comparison going on.

    I have not read the story of Peter and looked at it as a story of comparison but what a perfect example. Peter questioned a lot of things along the way but learned how Jesus was where his eyes should focus.

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    1. I think it can be a big issue especially as teenagers, but it’s still easy to fall into it when we’re older too! Keeping our eyes focused on Jesus is definitely a much better way!

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  5. It’s SO easy to fall into the comparison trap. I know I can do it without even realizing it at times. But this is where I want my focus to be: “If we want to truly follow Jesus, our focus has to be on him.” Thanks for centering us again, Lesley.

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  6. Lesley, yiou’re so right about comparison. It’s almost as if it’s in ou DNA. We must choose not to line ourselves up beside someone else in order to ee how we’re better/worse than them. God wants us to view ourselves through His eyes. He sees us as treasured children. and that’s enough.

    This book sounds like a good one. I’m glad you shared about it.

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  7. I so easily fall into the comparison trap, Lesley. I love your reflections here. The book sounds great, too. I have often felt sorry for Leah, because Jacob loved Rachel more. The quote that especially strikes me is “We need to remember, when looking at people’s lives that appear perfect to us, there’s probably a not-so-perfect story happening there that’s never going to be told.” Something I try to remember. On the outside someone might look like they have it so good or are doing so much for others, but we never know what hidden pain they’re hiding, do we? Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Thanks, Trudy! Yes, I’ve always felt sorry for Leah too.
      It’s so important to remember that there’s often more to someone’s story than we see- especially that what is portrayed on social media is usually only the highlights and that there are probably a lot of ordinary, and even painful, things happening in their lives as well.
      Love and hugs to you!

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  8. Your story reminded me of a similar comparison battle between another vocalist and me all through high school. I have been hearing good things about this book. Thanks for your review. Learning to celebrate one another rather than compare is a lesson I wish I had learned early on in life.

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  9. Lesley thanks for sharing this review. I have the book and can’t wait to read it. Starting the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study in April. I have met Nicki a couple of times. Loved her first book.

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  10. Lesley … this is good. I think the whole comparison thing is a strong undercurrent in the blogging community, even among those who are Christ-followers. For sure, it is a relationship destroyer.

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    1. Thanks, Linda! Yes, I think it can be easy to fall into with blogging as well. So important to keep our eyes on Jesus instead of getting caught up in comparing ourselves to everyone else.

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  11. Hi Lesley,
    I like reading Nicki’s posts on Proverbs 31 so this sounds like an excellent book! Your thoughts about comparison and your friend in high school really resonated with me, especially about comparing yourself to each other damaging an otherwise good friendship. I’m glad as we grow older we can look back more objectively but only wish the wisdom could have come a bit earlier! 🙂 xo

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  12. I know the “frenemies” by competition concept too well from high school as well! The focus option you present is so much better : ) Thanks for this post, Lesley, and the book review!

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  13. The sad thing is, comparing ourselves to others is instilled in us through the adverts on TV and general media. The message is often the same; unless you do like the person in the advert you are somewhat lacking.

    God bless.

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  14. Comparison is the enemy of contentment, I’ve heard it said. And the Bible also says: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12

    It’s not wise to compare ourselves to others. Christ lays out a standard which we will always fall short of, and He rebuked his disciples for making a fuss about John, the beloved who always wanted to be by Christ’s side. A tender intention that we ought to learn from.

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