For When You Think You Have to Prove Yourself to Other Women

Somewhere, someone along the way told you you had to measure up.

You had to be faster when you ran along the playground fence when you were six-almost-seven. You had to be thin and lanky like some of the girls are at eleven but then again, some aren’t. You had to be more giggly, more outgoing, smarter, dumber, taller, cuter, more.of.everything we think it means to be female.

Somewhere, someone along the way made you feel like you didn’t measure up.

And when you were on your way to college or somewhere beyond you felt like you had to FIND HIM NOW and if you didn’t you’d be left behind. You felt like you should just stay with what you are sort of good at and not take risks. Because if you did, you would surely be embarrassed or lonely. So you played it safe with everything, carefully measuring out love and affection and creating friendships that are good and right, but very, very safe.

Measuring up is something that you wondered about every day.

Then there is a baby. A tiny thing in your arms in and a giant in your heart and now there is one more thing in which you don’t measure well. You are selfish for wanting a nap, you are a failure for not being able to “cope” and you are always behind in everything you used to be amazing at. Nothing is amazing any longer, in fact, except for her smiling face, everything is just dull.

And you feel more and more like you don’t measure up to the other mothers who tote their babies around under one arm and their computer under the other. They do it all so well, you think.

You are convinced by now, that you will never measure up.

And then there is soccer and ballet and activities and everything that makes you feel so much less-than as a mother and even as a woman. What if I don’t give them all that they can have? What if I fail, even in this?

You look at your husband at nine pm and think oh I really should have sex tonight but I am the most tired I have ever been. Tomorrow night, honey. Is that okay? And he’s fine with it on the outside but on the inside is he disappointed? Does he wonder if he got the wrong-girl? And then you are sure that other couples are doing it most nights and even in this, you aren’t anything like you hoped you would have been.

Now no one needs to tell you you have to measure up because you tell yourself.

You tell yourself when you look at post-baby thighs in the mirror, when you look at the greys coming in (oh they are coming in faster now, like lightening it seems) and when you look at face in profile (do I still pass for under thirty?).

You tell yourself this every day.

Someone will always be better, younger, more beautiful, have it more together, more sexy, more patient, and everything-we-think-it-means-to-be-female than you. Someone will always measure better than you, so why even try?

Maybe because you know in the back of your heart that there is something good and desirable about you. That you are worth knowing.

Even so you need to prove to other women and to yourself that you are something good. And so you do all kinds of crazy things to prove this: you gossip and you hide, you lie sometimes (just a little fib) and you even let others drag you into things you should never be a part of in the first place.  You dress up and you cut your hair and you dye your heart the colors of other people’s hearts. You wear clothes that do not fit you, neither in size nor in personality.

All because you want to measure up.

But here is what is true: you have measured up all along. You have been desirable all along. You have been beautiful and smart all along.

Even from the first race on the playground when the other girl beat you you measured yourself up against someone else. SomeTHING else. And all along you were measuring yourself up against the wrong thing.

The only thing worthy of measuring ourselves against, measuring our height and our beauty and the way our jeans fit, measuring our goodness or our excellence is against the love of God. And His love in us.

Everything else is a lie.

Measuring is a fallacy. Proving ourselves to other women has no benefit. Maybe we can be the ones to begin telling ourselves and our daughters to stop trying to measure up to what the world tells us we need to be.

And in that love (that gracing-love) there is no proving, there is no moving faster or further and there is no urgency. There is simply Him and you and what is right.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Oh Sarah, does this ever hit home!! I have often wondered if this was part of the curse. We will never feel as though we measure up to others when we keep taking our eyes off of Jesus to analyze the other girls. We will never find value in ourselves until we find value in the One who created us.

  2. Jan says

    So right on, Sarah…..when will we learn we are worthy and beloved? Our system of measuring needs that new God Ruler!

  3. says

    Wow, does this hit home for me. Sometimes I feel like I’m still in high school, even though it’s been 10 years! Thanks for this post, my worth is not found in anything other than Jesus and that’s where I can rest.

  4. says

    I so needed to be reminded of this very thing this morning. Yesterday was such a long difficult day as a mom and wife. I felt like I accomplished so little and not enough. I was very down in my spirit, even yet this morning. But your words are God’s gentle reminder to my heart once again to measure who I am by him alone. Thank you for that.

  5. Christa says

    Thank you for this. I had a very disappointing Monday and feel like I only fail at life. This message hit home on too many fronts. I know that today is a new day and I have to keep trying.

  6. says

    Thank you for this reminder to live for Christ’s eyes alone. To remember we are loved by our Heavenly Father and that’s all that matters. I’ve struggled with this for more years than I can remember.

  7. says

    A plus of having your kids in your forties is that my girls have a Mom who is no longer competing–I realize that He is the one I need to seek approval from. I’m at a stage in my life where I understand that life isn’t an emergency, instead an opportunity to find joy in the chaos. I only wish I had discovered this sooner!

    Be Blessed.

  8. says

    in the running community its so easy to compare myself to others – who’s faster, skinnier, can go further than me.
    at work its the battle of the fickle women – how dare another women get something i dont’ or there will be hell to pay.
    sadly, at my church is motherhood, landing me at the flat bottom of the totum pole – given that motherhood isn’t even a desire much less a reality for me.

    thank you for the reminder that, in Him, I am enough.

  9. says

    Sarah! Wow! This is ridiculously good! It hit so many places in my mind and heart. I’m single, in my 30s & not yet in the career I feel God has called me to. I struggle with feeling like I don’t measure up practically everyday. It’s not that anyone has told me that. It really is that I just feel that way when I look at my friends around me & see their “successes” in areas where I think that I have “failed”. I know God sees me as worthy and that I measure up in His sight. My prayer is that I see myself through His eyes. Grateful for you! :)

  10. says

    Oh, how I hear God’s heart in this post. This message is something He so desires His daughters to know. He is in the process of helping me get this deep down where it can’t be taken away. Thank you for listening to His voice and sharing.

  11. Carolyn says

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have tears in my eyes from this post. I feel that I don’t measure up EVERY DAY. And as Karina mentioned, the feeling rarely comes from others, it comes from inside of me. I am better at destroying my self esteem than anyone. I am enough today, just as I am. I work on this idea every day, many times throughout the day and I am getting it, little by little. Beautiful, wise post!

  12. says

    Love It!!! I spent to long worrying about what others think. Still tempted at times to let my mind go there. But God has been teaching me that what anyone else thinks really doesn’t matter, only what God thinks.

  13. says

    oh-so-beautifully you have described the life of the true versus the life of the lie.
    your words remind me of how buechner describes it, this facade that we hold up, when we are measuring — “the highly edited version” of self.
    thank you for beckoning us Home. a great wholeness awaits in the knowledge that, indeed, we are loved.

  14. says

    I think this acceptance of “measuring up” comes with age. When we’re finally comfortable with the shoes that we wear, we no longer try to compete and measure ourselves against others. Only our relationship with God matters. With our young daughters however, it’s a bit complicated when they’re constantly surrounded by peer pressure and the dictates of the world in fashion, technology and standards. This is where we step in and give good advice and encourage them that they don’t need to measure up against anyone but God Himself. Hopefully they’ll listen.

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