This morning in my facebook feed a number of colleagues from medical school and my previous workplace were celebrating their successful passing of their General Practice exams. Instead of my first reaction being one of celebration with them, I suffered the effects of Compulsive Comparison Syndrome — I looked up at them and thought: “how wonderful their life is, if only I hadn’t taken a year off last year I could be in their shoes, their lives are so much easier because they’ve passed their exams, I’m never going to pass my exams, I don’t even know when I will sit them.”
I’ve discussed before how important it is for me to ensure my identity is grounded in Christ rather than the external outworkings of my life. Well, this book by Sophie de Witt both confirms and expands on this as an ongoing issue in the lives of women. In particular she discusses our tendency as women to continually compare ourselves to others around us — whether that is to make ourselves feel better about ourselves “at least my house isn’t as messy as hers” or in a way that makes us feel dissatisfied and discontent with our own situation “if only I had what she had, then I’d be happy”
This is a short book and an easy read, it doesn’t use the most eloquent language or have extensive references, but it speaks to the heart and exposes our (my) compulsive comparison making for what it really is — sin.
The beauty of this book is that it doesn’t just leave the reader even worse off than it found her, rather, de Witt explores the underlying causes of our ongoing comparisons, and how we can be free from them — namely through the freeing gospel of Christ, finding our identity in Him rather than in comparing ourselves to those around us.
I’d happily give this book to any woman to read, I am sure (especially after reading) that I am not the only one who struggles with this. Although unashamedly a Christian book, it would be very suitable to give to women who are not Christians, and I think I might even encourage my husband to read it, just so that he has more of an insight into how my mind works at times!
So today I can celebrate genuinely with my friends who have passed the milestone I have yet to face, because my value and worth is not dependent on comparing myself to them, my worth is found in Christ, what He has done for me and who He has made me to be.
If you would like to read another excellent review of this book (in fact the very reason I thought to read it in the first place) have a look at Wendy’s blog here.
I died to sin upon the cross
I’m bound to Jesus in his death
The old is gone, and now I must
Rely on him for every breath
With every footstep that I tread
What mysteries he has in store
I cannot know what lies ahead
But know that he has gone before.
-This Life I live, by Michael Morrow