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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Comparing Game: Truth and Lies

Most of the time, I share yummy, healthy recipes, cool new health products, or tips on natural and healthy living, but sometimes I feel a real pull in my heart to share something more personal. Remember my Is That a Baby Bump Part 1 and Part 2? Many of you related to me then, and I think many of you will be able to relate to what I would like to say today.

The thoughts I want to offer today have been on my heart and mind for awhile. I feel the need to share them because I think we all play the Comparing Game, and it isn't a fun game. In fact, it is a downright self-destructive, waste of precious time.

Personally, I am sick of playing this game in my own head. I have also recently been hearing from too many friends, family, and clients who are also stuck in a comparing game. It causes us to feel depressed, lose sight of what really matters, and possibly give up in important areas of our lives.

Let me share with you a few of these lies. You may see yourself in some or all of them. I know I do. Let me also offer you a way to replace those lies with truth that can help you stop this game before it gets out of control. (By the way, I am the FIRST person who needs to read this today. I have a major problem with the comparison game, and I am speaking to myself first).

Lie #1 - I will never have the body I want (look like him or her), so I might as well stop eating healthy and exercising.

Truth:  When someone says to me, "I want a thinner waist, more toned legs or bigger biceps," it is not because they have this innate drive to look like that. It's because they see someone else they think has a better this or that, and they don't think they measure up. 

The truth is NO ONE has a perfect body. What is a perfect body anyway? People say to me, "You look so great. If I could look like you, then..." What they don't know is that I struggle with my own body image. I have cellulite. I have jiggly parts. And why is that bad?
As a personal trainer, I struggle with why my clients come to me:  Do they want to get healthier? Because I am all for that! Very often, there's an underlying dangerous comparison game going on in our heads. We've got to deal with that first. Speaking from personal experience, if this lie gets out of control, it can lead to disordered eating, disordered exercising, and disordered thinking.

Instead, realize how blessed you are to have the body you were given. Can you walk? Can you cook dinner? Can you get out of bed every morning? Can you lift your children? That puts things in perspective  fast. You have an awesome, miraculous body! Put your hand on your heart right now and feel it beating. That is a miracle right there. You do have an awesome body, don't you? Keep exercising and eating healthy, because you are taking care of your miraculous body, and it is always worth it. Always.

Lie #2 - I don't feel in love with my spouse right now. But, I deserve love, so I am moving on in search of real love.

Truth:  The divorce rate in our country is out of this world. While I do believe that there are examples where divorce may be the difficult outcome of abandonment or adultery, in many cases that is not the reason couples end their marriage. And sadly, I think many times it starts with the ugly comparison game.

When I was just married, I had a really poor illusion of what my marriage should look like. I had read too many romance books, watched too many romantic comedies, and was comparing my marriage to all the others that appeared to look perfectly happy from the outside. I thought that if I didn't feel in love with my husband, something was dangerously wrong with our marriage. I threw out the "D" word (divorce) more times than I would like to admit. Instead of realizing each of our arguments was helping us understand each other better and was a growth opportunity, I saw those arguments as reasons our marriage just wasn't working.
 Photo: From the electricity going out at our wedding reception to moving 6 times to being parents of four and traveling the world together, 8 years being married to this man, Adam, and I love him more than I thought possible! (And that is the longest sentence ever)  :-)
No, I didn't always like my husband and still don't. He doesn't always like me either. I also used to not always love him, and that is what I committed to when I married him. I may not feel in love, but I have realized that I have made a commitment to love him until death do us part. Loving him is forgiving him, remembering why I married him, putting myself in his shoes to feel what he feels, treating him as I want to be treated and never giving up on our marriage. It is one of the most precious gifts God has given us!

Lie #3 - I am a bad parent. 

Truth: Oh, I get caught up in this lie so many times a day. It is easy to feel this way when we are imperfect people and therefore imperfect parents. The screaming, the crying, the whining, the lack of sleep, the sacrifices made, the monotony, the poop, the puke, the chaos...It can intensify stress like nothing else! I have grown more as a person since being a parent because my patience, love, and trust is constantly being challenged. 

There is a reason they say being a parent is the hardest thing in the world. It can get downright depressing. Just the other day, after a day full of "NO this and NO that!" being shouted at me, along with countless other challenges, I wondered aloud to my husband, "Does anything I do matter?" I felt like no matter what I had tried, how deeply I had tried to be patient and loving, what books on parenting I had read, what fun activities we've done, it obviously wasn't working. I was a failure as a mother. 

The next morning, I prayed fervently for God to give me His kind of love and His kind of patience. The day seemed like a miracle. My youngest daughter seemed more like herself and only screamed "No!" at me about 3 or 4 times instead of 300 or 400 times. That in itself was like sunshine on a rainy day. The day was the best we've had in a long time, and it wasn't because I finally morphed into a good mother.

We do the best we can as parents, and what it finally comes down to is "Our help comes from the Lord," Psalm 121:2 and "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength," Philippians 4:13. It isn't about us. It is about God. He uses us despite our imperfections. He saw it best to give us the children we have because He wanted us to do this important job. He will give us the strength when we are oh, so weak. 

Lie #4 - I need MORE!

Truth: When you start counting your blessings, you won't be able to stop. Seriously. Try it.

The thing is, when we start comparing our stuff with other people's stuff, we are just asking for trouble. No one else's situation is the same as yours. God knows exactly what you need, and He gives it to you. Always. In fact, He goes above and beyond that to give us WAYYYYYY more than we need. Do we really need more than a week's worth of clothes? (Probably not even more than a day's worth) Do we really need every cupboard and refrigerator and freezer full of food at any given moment? Do we need more than one vehicle sitting in our driveway or garage? Do we need a bigger TV, better phone, softer bed, more shoes, more toys, to stuff ourselves full at every meal?

Need is such a powerful word that we have lost sight of.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we really only need a very few things: water, food, shelter, salvation. Wow! Four things. Where did we go so wrong thinking we need a humongous list of stuff that could be taken at any given moment? Would we still survive without it?

While it is so easy to say, "I need this..." it is also quite easy to count the blessings you already have. A quote I have written on a chalkboard in my home says, A truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. I look at that quote a LOT as a reminder to myself that I need to stop worrying, stop whining, stop wanting more or better and start appreciating what I have! It's really hard to be in a bad mood when you are in a thankful mood. In fact, I think it is impossible.

If this is an area you struggle with (like me), I highly recommend keeping a thankful journal. Every day, just write down 4-5 or more things that you are thankful for that day. It is a great way to keep yourself in perspective and shut this lie down flat.

It is too easy to start playing the comparison game and believe all the lies our heads tell us. However, if we focus on what is really important in life, God will help us remember the truth. If you have more encouragement for us, please share your experiences and thoughts!


  1. Very true and wise words, Cara. Thank you for sharing. I have felt all 4 of those myself at times over the years but am here to say as an "older woman" lol, that your conclusions are all right on. For anyone struggling with any of these, turn to the Lord and know that He is good.

    1. Thank you, Sharon! I appreciate your thoughts!

  2. I have felt some of these at one time or another and when I do I remind myself of how thankful someone else would be to be in my place and then thank God for all the blessings I have. It works!

  3. Thank you for sharing! These are some really good reminders to be thankful and cheerful!


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