How do you measure your progress?
A lot of my younger years were focused on competition. I never felt like I was *quite* measuring up to the people around me. I most definitely was not the cool kid in school, and I always found myself wondering if it was because of my clothes, my hair, my makeup, or other aspects of how I looked. I was constantly comparing myself to others, which was really frustrating because it’s 100% impossible to become exactly like another person.
As I got older, the comparison became more about competition, and trying to excel at the things I felt like I was actually good at…school, sports, and getting skinnier. My comparison habit transformed into perfectionism and comparing myself to myself, striving to constantly be better, or the best I felt I could possibly be.
In some ways this was helpful, because it alleviated the impossible pressure of trying to be like other people. But it also was really harmful because it fed me the lie that the only standard I needed to compare myself to was myself. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve ourselves, but when we use ourselves as the measuring stick, the goals are up for interpretation. My goals and “self-improvement” initiatives were all about being thinner, getting better grades, and running faster. Moving towards those goals wasn’t actually helping me improve my life at all. It was actually making my experience of life worse.
Who was I yesterday? Thin, and miserable. Who am I today? Thinner, and even more miserable. #progress
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.2 Corinthians 10:12
In our culture today there’s this big push towards “being our best selves.” But my best self still isn’t the person that I think anyone should try to be. Even at my very best, I’m still imperfect, still sinful, still mislead by the mixed messages of the broken world that we live in.
Comparing ourselves to ourselves leaves us directionless. Focusing on the things we want to change about ourselves, like our weight, our exercise habits, the things we eat, or the way we spend our time, doesn’t point us towards glory. It misses the whole point of growth, because we literally can move closer to or further away from the ultimate habits and attitudes that improve our lives.
Instead of stepping on the scale in the morning and comparing the number we see to the number we saw yesterday, or looking in the mirror and gauging whether we look more toned or more curvy or more slim, we should be comparing ourselves to an ultimate standard—an eternal standard. To Christ.
When we zoom out a little and take more of a bird’s eye view of our lives, the “best version” of ourselves (according to the world) are no better than the worst versions of ourselves. Comparing our brokenness to broken standard gets us no where, but keeping our eyes on the one who in his grace and mercy promises to make us new? Now that is where real progress is made.