You and I, too, can embrace the better habit of resting in God's love while delighting in the glorious comparability of all that he has made.

You Can Shatter the Habit of Comparison

When is the last time you walked into a room full of women and just fully enjoyed everyone?
The talkative and the more reticent?
The natural leader and the sweetheart with the gift of helps?
The carefully coiffed and manicured and the all-natural girl without a speck of makeup?
My natural tendency is to compare, contrast, and to find myself lacking.  In a conversation with the natural leader, I feel fluffy and not very bright. Standing beside Nature Girl, I’m overdone, but listening to Mrs. Loquacious, I’m a wall flower.

Comparison is a no-win game, and it’s a habit most of us take for granted. It’s the way we measure our worth in the world, our contribution to the Body of Christ, and even our role as wives and mums in our families. If, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of contentment,” the Apostle Paul must have wrestled comparison to the ground on his way to writing his letter to the Philippians:

… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”  (Philippians 4:11)

Richella Parham realized one day that she was deep into the comparison game, and had taken on an impossible opponent:  “the mythical composite woman.”  (3) Focused on the best features of everyone she knew, she came up short every single time because she was holding herself to an impossible standard. Her imagination had created a “situation” in which it was impossible to be content because she was always striving to measure up on every front.

Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison is the record of Richella’s journey away from the distorted vision comparison fosters. In recognizing the problem, she was challenged to acknowledge truth about God that corrected her vision and to find the path of self-acceptance, well-lit by the love of God and well-watered by his grace. Of course this did not happen overnight…

6 Habits of Daily Living

Drawing on the rich resources of classic works on spiritual formation by the “Giants” including Richard Foster, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Henri Nouwen, doing the hard work of excavating painful memories in the presence of praying friends, and making peace with her own particular God-given set of physical, intellectual, and spiritual equipment, Parham found that changing her mind would involve changing her habits. Thomas á Kempis taught that “habit overcomes habit,” and so she set out to address the underlying insecurity that kept her in the loop of comparison by redesigning the habits of her daily living in ways that are straightforward and yet profoundly helpful:

  1.  The habit of regular rest:  This included a routine bedtime set, by faith, with full assurance that God was able to run the universe without her input for a few hours. A cheap alarm clock on the nightstand is a much wiser choice than a phone.
  2. The habit of handing the day over to God:  Richella starts the day with the Lord’s prayer. Instead of looking in the mirror and coming up short in her own estimation every single day, she is cultivating the habit of acknowledging God’s power and glory, his Fatherhood, his nearness, and his acceptance.
  3. The habit of an open Bible:  When words fail us, God has provided  a book of 150 glorious poems to express whatever emotion we bring to the breakfast table. Reading a psalm and praying its truth reinforces God’s presence and his goodness. He is able to enter fully into my day with me.
  4. The habit of pausing and pacing:  Trying to make it through a long day on the remnants of truth remembered from a mindful morning is risky. A pause for prayer, a few minutes of contemplation on the way to the mailbox, or a whispered thank you to God for the beauty of a road side view on the commute home from work are all little boosts to the understanding that every single day, we stand on holy ground.
  5. The habit of “help me” prayers:  When Paul exhorted his readers to “pray without ceasing,” he may have been thinking about the expulsive power of prayer over temptation. Even a short “breath prayer” has often re-calibrated my own thinking away from sinful patterns, and if comparison is a product of envy, Richella recommends sincerely praying for the person you envy: “Lord, please continue to bless [name] and help them use your gifts well.
  6. The habit of fellowship:  As we engage with other believers, our mythical composite person is shattered by the reality of other Christians with genuine struggles that, incredibly, look very similar to our own.

Struggling to present herself to the world as incomparable did not provide the solution Richella Parham sought for shattering harmful and demoralizing comparisons.  The reality that only God is truly incomparable freed her to embrace her connectedness within his family and to put aside the habit of comparison. You and I, too, can embrace the better habit of resting in God’s love while delighting in the glorious comparability of all that he has made.

Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

And if you are ready to shatter YOUR habit of comparison, maybe winning a copy of Richella’s book will get you off on the right foot? Simply leave a comment here on the blog or, if you’d rather, over on my social media posts related to this book. (U.S. readers only, please) I’ll put all the names in a bright orange hunting hat, and one of the adorable grandchildren will choose a winner. You’ve got until 12:00 a.m., Sunday, October 27th to enter! 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Michele Morin

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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76 thoughts on “You Can Shatter the Habit of Comparison”

  1. This sounds so good. Not just a little good, but the kind of good that had me nodding my head with each of the 6 habits you listed. Definitely one to add to my TBR list!

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    1. There’s so much more to this book than what I mentioned, but the section on habits was so very practical and spot on for me right now that I framed my review around it. Richella’s story is the unifying thread, and that was also fascinating.

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  2. I love this emphasis on the habits, the disciplines, the invitations, Michele.

    I can’t help but believe that this is a huge unspoken undercurrent in the blog world we inhabit.

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  3. This was a timely post. I went to a Ladies Night Out last night and fell into the comparison trap. My clothes were too frumpy. My hair did not cooperate. The leader mentioned another blogger in the room who started 5 years after I did. (I forgot there were several bloggers in the room. LOL) Comparison is a trap!

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  4. We are working on an all church study of habits in my church and I have found it so helpful! Thank you for sharing these habits for daily living! Having godly (and healthy) habits is so important and it is an area I struggle in!! And thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

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    1. Community is vital, and, “coincidentally,” I just finished a post on discernment and was surprised in my reading to discover that this is also something we do much better when we are connected to the Body of Christ.

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  5. For the most part, I have this comparison issue licked, but Satan likes to bring it up once in a while. Looks like another great book. I’ve been commissioned to write on the topic soon. This book might be a good resource.

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  6. AMEN to Richella’s recommendation to sincerely pray for the person I envy: “Lord, please continue to bless [name] and help them use your gifts well.” A brilliant idea, sure to combat an attack of jealousy! Thank you, Michele for sharing Richella’s wisdom with us.

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  7. Thank you for including the Teddy Roosevelt quote: “Comparison is the thief of contentment.” Also, this meaningful statement: “In recognizing the problem, she was challenged to acknowledge truth about God that corrected her vision and to find the path of self-acceptance, well-lit by the love of God and well-watered by his grace. Of course this did not happen overnight. . .”
    As long as I keep reading your reviews, Michele, I will always have a bottomless wish list:)

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  8. Oh, yes! I love the way you contrasted the Roosevelt quote with Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Just wonderful. Richella’s 6 habits make sense. Why do I struggle with #2 so much? This book sounds like a must-read.

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    1. I struggle with that one as well, Laurie. Could it be that we think we’ve “got it” on our own? I’m trying to remember to put into practices Richella’s habit of praying for “His kingdom and glory” as a priority.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I needed this post so much today!! I struggle HORRIBLY with comparison!!!
    Thanks for such a fun & inspiring giveaway!!!

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  10. Michele, comparison is one of those topics that makes me want to jump up and down and wave my arms around, so this book sounds wonderful! I never made the connection to rest … that’s a great point. I also had to smile at what you said you might feel if talking to the “natural leader” … I totally get where you’re coming from, but “fluffy and not very bright” would NEVER be in the description if I had to introduce you to someone. 🙂

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    1. Ha! Funny the things that comparison does to our thinking about ourselves.
      So you can be sure that I’ll be jumping up and down and waving my arms alongside you!
      (Great exercise!)

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  11. I love this list of six habits — I might even call them practices — to help us be closer to God and to our truest self that God created us to be. Thank you! I look forward to reading the entire book.

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  12. This sounds exceptional, Michele! Many books are written on this topic and yet all women I know fall prey to this. (Actually most men do as well in terms of muscle mass, height, hairline, sport skills, and income, but they don’t talk about it so much.) I like how she approaches the subject and how you once again provided an excellent review. It is so easy to forget that God alone has the standard for each of us. Comparison always leads to trouble. We either see ourselves as better than or less than.

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    1. Good point! It’s not just a female issue.
      We all need huge arrows pointing our hearts back to the standard of looking to God for approval. Comparison always seems to lead to unhealthy competition–or just plain discouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wise words about comparison. I think it is something we all do and it becomes a habit. A bad habit, for certain. It not only devalues our worth, but creates animosity with others. Thank you for linking this up today.

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  14. Comparing ourselves to the “composite” superwoman! I’d never thought about it, but we do tend to do that. I love those 6 habits. Simple, yet profound. Even Number 1 is so life-changing. Thanks for reviewing this book! (Would love to be entered in your giveaway!)

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  15. We can’t be too careful with this subject. What a valuable resource! Thanks for sharing, Michele. Many blessings to you!
    (I’m not resident in the US, so I can’t be entered for the giveaway, unfortunately!)

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  16. I think comparison is one of those things I really struggle with; and not just for myself but for my children too! As a homeschooling mom I have learned that I can’t compare my kids to others; we have no common curriculum and each child is different… and yet that doesn’t stop me from comparing them anyway! I really do try to stop though.

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    1. I eventually realized that I had to stop attending homeschooling gatherings for that very reason when my kids were all small. The temptation to compare overwhelmed any goodness I would have gained from the gathering.
      It’s really an issue we need to bring to the Lord every single day.

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  17. I thought this book sounded interesting when you mentioned it in a comment on one of my blog posts last week so it is goof to read more about it. I think comparison is something most of us struggle with so this sounds really helpful. The six habits are great!

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  18. Hello friend! I just have to let you know that on the mornings when I find that I need a few more words to chew on after reading my Bible, I pop over here to your writing space. You never fail to challenge and inspire me, and you are a gift! That was the case on this quiet Saturday, and I was delighted to see a post I had not yet read! This book looks fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading through these daily habits. I am challenged and inspired! I pray you have the most blessed fall weekend!

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    1. That’s a huge encouragement to me, Stacey! We do gather around one another’s tables, and it’s a blessing when we meet around words. I can only imagine how wonderful heaven will be when we meet our blogging friends from all over the place!

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  19. Pausing and pacing… yes, this is what I needed to hear today. Taking regular moments to remember God’s word and talk to him through my day helps me drown out the lies of culture with truth. This is definitely a book I am interested in, even though I’m not eligible for the giveaway. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Dear Michele,

    For you, of all people, to say such kind things about my book is so humbling and inspiring! If I were to be getting into comparisons, I’d say that you can write circles around me! I am deeply grateful that you found my book worthy of a post on your blog. Thank you so much for helping me to spread the word about Mythical Me. I am thankful for you!

    Like

  21. I’d like to think that I don’t play the comparison game…but sadly, I do. This book sounds like a breath of fresh air with well-thought-out interventions for busting the need to compare myself to others.

    Like

  22. Love Richella’s points – especially pausing and pacing!

    I do struggle with comparing. I am better than I used to be, though.

    I’m late to the party but better late than never.

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  23. Hi Michele–Just popping back in to thank you again for this post. You are so wonderful! I also want to thank you for joining the Grace at Home party. I’m featuring you this week–I couldn’t help myself! 🙂

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  24. Wow, Michele, this sounds like an amazing book! I would love to read it. While I have stopped that comparison game long ago, I do occasionally still fall into its trap. I guess it is human nature. And when I find myself comparing, it is always detrimental. Such a great message in this post and this book. I love the tip for pausing and pacing. That is a big one for me. If I forget to take pause and count my blessings and be grateful, that is when I begin to spiral into that negative energy vortex that catches me off guard. A great reminder and wonderful food for thought. Thanks so much for sharing and linking up.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    Like

  25. I think I compare myself and judge myself unfairly but only spot that in hindsight. In the heat of the moment I always find myself lacking 😦 Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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  26. Love the 6 tips! Sounds like I need to read this book! Thanks for linking up with us at the GATHER OF FRIENDS LINK PARTY 9. Pinned

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  27. […] Michelle @ Moms Are Frugal This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU! There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month.  The “theme” occurs in our weekly features: WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, health, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly) (These features were chosen from the October 2019 “You’re the STAR” blog hop) You Can Shatter the Habit of Comparison by Living Our Days […]

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