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Do you ever struggle with comparing yourself to others? Author and podcaster Jamie Ivey talks about seeing yourself as God’s masterpiece.
Bob: Part of the reason so many people today are discontented with their lives is because of the culture of comparison we live in. Here’s author and podcaster, Jamie Ivey.
Jamie: There’s an opportunity for you to get online on your phone—Instagram®, Facebook®, whatever it is that you’re looking at—and compare yourself to a woman that you’ve never met, but you follow her every move. You live in Austin, and she lives in Norway! Do you know what I mean? There’s this connection that’s false; and then we will find ourselves comparing ourselves to it: “Yes, it’s worse [the comparison].” I think that means, if it’s worse, then we need to know how to fight it more.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 19th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. How can we fight against the culture of comparison and cultivate hearts that are at peace and contented? We’ll talk about that today with Jamie Ivey. Stay with us.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I wonder, “If we had a scale of 1-10—
Dave: Oh, boy! Scales of 1-10.
Bob: —“with listeners: 10 being positive; 1 being negative; okay?—and I said, ‘Where would you put yourself on how you feel about yourself?’—10 being, ‘I like who I am today,’—
Dave: Yes; I want to ask you, Bob. Forget us! What’s your number?
Bob: I have always been relatively content with who I am and who God made me to be; I’ve been one of those people. It kind of frustrates my wife that I am—
Ann: You and Dave are so similar!
Bob: —I’m good with my life. Are you good with how your life’s worked out?
Ann: Dave’s like, “I’m a 12!” [Laughter]
Dave: That sounds so arrogant!
Bob: It does.
Ann: No, I’m envious of it; it’s awesome!
Bob: What’s your [Ann’s] number?
Dave: It’s called denial; that’s what it is.
Ann: My number is probably much higher now, because I feel like I have finally realized: “This is who I am in Christ, and He rates me a 10—
Ann: —“because I am His creation.”
But if you would have asked me, over the seasons— man, I would have been low—you would never know it, because I’m an achiever; it seems like I’m confident, but I had an internal dialogue in my head that was probably a 3.
Dave: For years—and again, I know this isn’t about us—but for years, in our marriage, I would say to her, “Man, you are the most beautiful, incredible woman”; and she would say, “No, I’m not.” I used to just mock her—
Dave: —like, “Quit saying that!” And then I realized, “She truly doesn’t believe it,—
Dave: —“and she needs to hear me say it.” I [before] thought, “She looks in the mirror and sees how beautiful she is”; and she could not see that.
Dave: I think a lot of us struggle with that.
Bob: Jamie Ivey is joining us on FamilyLife Today. Jamie, welcome back.
Jamie: Thank you, guys.
Bob: Jamie is an author, a podcaster, a speaker. She’s written a book called You Be You. I looked at that title and thought, “Well, what if I don’t like who I be?”—[Laughter]
—right?—“What if the You Be You—you look and go, ‘No!’”
Ann: “I’m a 1!”
Bob: Yes; “I am not happy with who I am.” Have you got a number on your 1-to-10 scale?
Jamie: Well, I’m kind of like you: the older I’ve gotten, I’m more content with who I am.
Jamie: I think that, when you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re kind of like, “I don’t know! Who am I? What am I supposed to be? Where am I?” And then, you hit 40—and something happens—you’re like, “This is who I am! What else am I going to do? I’m just going to bring myself to the table.” I would say I’m pretty high most days—
Jamie: —most days.
Bob: And do you think a lot of women are wrestling with not liking who they are?
Jamie: I think so. I think you nailed it [Ann] when you said, “I’m a 10 in Christ.” I think that is where a lot of it comes from: is this trusting that God uniquely created you/this idea that—if you’ve been in church for a long time, you can forget the basics—that God knew you before you were formed: He knew you; He chose you; He loves you; He created you with intention; He created you for a purpose.
Again, we live in a broken world; so a lot of this gets distorted by sin, and hurt, and harm—and things happen, and life gets crazy; and people die, and people get diagnoses—we live in a hard world! But if we go back to remember, “Man, God actually delights in you; He loves you.” Yes, it’s a hard thing to remember; but sometimes you have to tell yourself the same thing over and over again to get it.
Dave: Yes; I think it’s really, really difficult for the average person, including me—I’m sure we’d all agree—to think that, when God looks at us—you know, a great question is: “What do you think God’s thinking?” and—
Dave: —“What is His face saying?” And it’s a smile!
Dave: You know, you were created as a work/a poiema—
Dave: —you know, Ephesians 2:10—“My work of art/masterpiece.” Almost like/you know, some of you are old enough to remember Happy Days.
Dave: It would start with Fonzie looking in the mirror and getting ready to do his hair. He’s just like, “Oh, I look perfect. There’s nothing I’m going to do.” [Laughter] None of us—
Dave: —probably ever look in the mirror and say, “Oh, look at me! I’m awesome!” We’re like, “Look at that flaw; look at that flaw.” Yet, God looks and says, “masterpiece.”
Ann: And I’m passionate about this; because I see so many young women, who are degrading themselves, and they don’t see themselves as that. Having a granddaughter—I’ve shared this before—but I remember having breakfast with her, just the two of us before anyone was up—and I said, “Olive.”
Dave: How old is she?
Ann: She was four when I told her this. I said, “Olive, I can imagine the day that God started thinking about you.”
Ann: I said, “I imagine Him being in His throne room, and all the angels are there. And He said, ‘Today, I’m going to begin creating Olive Wilson.’” And she’s like, “Really? This is amazing!”
Ann: And I said, “And I can see Him saying, ‘I’m going to put kindness into her.’” I said, “It’s almost like He’s making this creation: ‘And I’m going to put joy and humor. And I’m going to give her this blonde hair and these blue eyes.’” And I kept going about what she’s like: “’She’s going to be compassionate; but she’s going to be strong!’” She was like, “Oh, this is cool.”
I said, “And then, He held you up of what you would be; and all the angels are like, ‘Aaah!’ They started to clap and cheer. He said, ‘This will be Olive Wilson, and I have great things in store for her, and a plan for her, and she will make a difference in the world.’”
I’m telling you—I’ve said this to each of our grandkids—and here’s what they say: “Noni,”—that’s what they call me—"tell me again the story of what God thought of me when He made me!”
Jamie: I feel like you just read us a children’s book!
Ann: I’m going to write this!
Jamie: I’m so in! [Laughter]
Ann: And it’s interesting; because the second half would be, “But there’s an enemy, who will do anything in his power to get her not to live out what God put into her.”
Dave: That is so beautiful! I mean, Jamie, you just spoke what I’ve said to her so many times: “Honey, you have children’s books in you! Write those down!” [Laughter]
Jamie: I literally just felt like I was at the library, and someone was reading the most amazing story! I’m like seeing the pictures/everything! [Laughter] Yes, Noni; you’ve got to do that!
But when you were saying that, I thought, “You know what? I need to be told that, as an adult.” You said that to a four-year-old, and she’s sitting there, and they’re taking it in with this child-like faith; and they believe it!
Jamie: There’s no way that she looked at you and said, “I don’t believe that to be true.”
Jamie: She took it in! I think, sometimes, I need someone to speak that over me.
Ann: Well, I’ve done that at women’s conferences. I hold up this jar of what God created her to be; and they’re like, “No, He didn’t.” We have to win women back!
Dave: Talk about that! Talk about that!
Dave: What happens—and it’s guys, too!
Dave: What happens to us? Your title: You Be You.
Dave: There are so many who say, “No, no, no! You really don’t want me to be me, because if you knew what I know about me—
Dave: —“I’ve got to be something different.”
Ann: —or “someone else different.”
Jamie: —“someone else”; yes.
Dave: What happens? Why do we think that?
Jamie: You know, we talked about middle school yesterday. I think, if we were to go back—when Olive was four, she believed that with everything in her—you will continue to tell her that, but something will happen—
Jamie: —she’ll turn 12, and someone will make fun of her; or she’ll turn 12, and show up in the cafeteria, and they say, “You can’t sit here anymore.” Or she’ll turn 15, and a boy will tell her, “I think you’re ugly.” These things happen, and then we start to believe the lie over what we know to be the truth.
I mean, that’s called “the world”/“sin.” It happened in the Garden of Eden! Eve believed a lie over what God had spoke as truth over her; that’s what happens. We’re having to combat this, like you said, we have a real enemy, who has come to kill, and destroy, and tell us lies. We, as followers of Jesus/as women, have to be willing to say: “I refuse to believe that; I’m going to take God’s Word.
Jamie: “I’m going to get in it. I’m going to believe it,” “I’m going to write it,”—like Deuteronomy says—“I’m going to write it on my doorposts!” “I’m going to talk to my children. I’m going to think about it when I lie down; I’m going to think about it when I walk on the road.” Not to over-spiritualize, but it is true! God gave us this whole Book—this love letter to us—in a sense to say, “Look how much I love you. I spent all of this effort to bring you back to Me! That’s how much I care for you.”
Every day, there are more opportunities to forget that than to remember that. I think we need to do a little math switch; you know? And we need to have Noni in our ear—[Laughter]—whatever that might look like for you, whether that’s your girlfriends—and you say, “Hey, I’m going to need you to check in on me every week and say, ‘Are you believing things that are true or things that are false?’—
Jamie: —“and then say, ‘Here are the false things I believe...’”
Jamie: And have a friend speak truth back to you.
Dave: So you have a friend; you have the Word of God. Do you think—and I’m looking at two women, asking this question—“Do you think it’s worse now?—the comparison and the self-identity—than it was—you don’t know 50 years ago—but 30 or 40 years ago?—because of social media and different things.”
One of the reasons I’m asking that is—you know, I’m a musician; and I love music; I love worship music—and I’ve noticed worship music—in the last seven, eight/ten years—has been about identity. They’ve gone to the top of the charts: I’m No Longer a Slave—you know, those kinds of songs—Lauren Daigle: You Say. I mean, several songs that we’re singing in our churches in the last decade, or probably five years, are that; they’ve resonated with a culture.
Again, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong; it’s just you notice waves. Self-esteem/identity have always been an issue for everyone; but it feels like we need to be told like never before, “You’re a child of God; You’re unique.” Psalm 139: “You’re fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I’m asking two women: “Is it worse now than you think, ever, maybe because of social media, or not?”
Jamie: I think, “Yes; I think that it’s always been a problem”; I mean, I mentioned the Garden of Eden. All of a sudden, Eve is like, “Okay; you’re telling me there’s something better”; so I’m not believing what is true. And here we are, looking at what we think is something better on our phones versus what God has said is true. I don’t think it’s new by any means, and I don’t think you’re saying that.
Jamie: But I mean, when I was in high school—I graduated in ’96 —I didn’t know what anyone was doing unless I was with them.
Jamie: There was no way for me to know what anybody was doing at another high school. I didn’t even know what someone was doing in the class next to me; because unless you were there, you didn’t know!
So yes, there were comparison issues there with girls; because of what you see. But now, I mean, there’s an opportunity for you to get online on your phone—Instagram, Facebook, whatever it is that you’re looking at—and compare yourself to a woman that you’ve never met, but you follow her every move. You live in Austin, and she lives in Norway! Do you know what I mean? There’s this connection that’s false, and then we will find ourselves comparing ourselves to it. I think, yes, it’s worse [the comparison]; and I think that means, if it’s worse, then we need to know how to fight it more.
Ann: Jamie, let’s talk about that.
Ann: How do we win in that?—with that comparison game.
Jamie: Yes; I think that it’s an offensive battle—is what I think it is. A lot of times, we’re trying to play defense; but for me, personally, I want to play offense with my heart. If I am very self-aware that I’m spending a lot of hours on Instagram—“Wow! When I do that, what I notice about myself is, all of a sudden, I don’t feel like I’m good enough. All of a sudden: “Wow; I do think I’m fat; because look at her,” or “Wow; I think she and her husband have an amazing life, and they’re always on dates; man!”—you know, you start to say that. If you start to evaluate: “Every time I get off my phone, I feel worse than when I started,” you need to play some offense.
Ann: You’re saying, “Even look at your internal dialogue”?
Jamie: Look at your internal dialogue: “How are you feeling in these moments?” I heard someone say the other day—and I can’t stop thinking about this—she was like, “We now are invested in people’s lives that we’ll never meet.” And she wasn’t saying that as like a minister or someone leading an organization. She was saying a mom in Tulsa is fully invested in a mom in San Francisco—they have no connection; they’ll never meet—but yet, she has people around her that she’s not connected to. That’s a problem!
I would say, “Look at your internal/in yourself and how you’re feeling; and then, man, make some real connections!” Because I think it’s harder for me—if I don’t just know you online but I know you as a friend—it’s harder for me to be jealous of you or compare myself to you when I’m a genuine cheerleader of what you’re doing.
Jamie: When I’m genuinely cheering you on—and I’m so happy for the success of your marriage, and your kids, and your job—it’s hard for me to then be envious, because I’m so for you! So be for people in your real life. Find those girlfriends! Find those friends, where you can be like, “I know that you got that promotion, and I’m still at the same job I’ve been at for five years. I want a promotion so bad, but I’m going to cheer you on. I’m going to fight that comparison battle, but I’m going to cheer you on.”
Ann: I discovered this in my 20s, as we were going to seminary in California; and this was in the ‘80s. I was teaching, at a club, all these aerobic classes and all these workout things.
Dave: She was good! [Laughter] All the guys took her class, because it was the hardest class in the club.
Ann: What I realized was—I was always in competition with other women—and I think that’s a thing.
Ann: Women compete against one another instead of locking arms with one another and being friends.
There was this one girl at the club/she taught with me; and she was perfect. She was beautiful; she was in shape. If somebody’s going to be like that, you want them to, at least, be mean. [Laughter]
Jamie: —to have like a bad personality or something!
Jamie: Yes, yes.
Ann: But she was the nicest person ever! I realized I never complimented other women, because they were my competition. That is really a thing with women—
Ann: —we’re in competition with one another—and so we pull away from one another. And isn’t that the enemy’s strategy?
Jamie: One hundred percent!
Ann: Because women together are a force.
Jamie: That’s right.
Ann: This one day, she is in the locker room. And no one talks to this girl, because she’s too perfect. She’s not modest at all; so she’s in the locker room, and everyone sees her. They’re like, “Oh no!”; because they feel so bad about themselves.
Ann: I thought, “I need to win this battle; because right now, she’s my enemy; because she’s my competition.” The locker room is full, but she’s all by herself in the mirror. I said, “I am so mad at you. Why are you so beautiful and you’re so nice? It’s kind of sickening, honestly. I’m so impressed by you. You’re an inspiration to me.” It was amazing!—of how, for me, all my walls went down; and she became this beautiful friend that I had for years there. I realized, “Wow! The enemy really tried to separate us.”
Ann: And when I talk to women, I’m like, “We need to cheer for each other!”—just as you said—“As soon as we start cheering for each other, we’re on the same team.
Jamie: —same team!
Ann: “And now, we can do battle together.”
Dave: Yes—but!—here’s my question: “To cheer somebody else on, you’ve got to be pretty secure. One of the reasons we don’t is we’re insecure, like you were saying, Ann.
Dave: “We want somebody to cheer us, but it’s hard to cheer somebody else unless you feel a sense of security”; am I right?
Jamie: Yes, but you know what I think I see—you guys became friends.
Jamie: You crossed over—you laid down your defenses and what you were feeling—and I would imagine that she, then, encouraged you.
Jamie: It was like someone has to take the first step.
I have a very similar story. When my boys were playing Pop Warner Football, I would go to their practices. I’m an extrovert, but sometimes I just want to sit and read a book; right? I would bring my chair; I would sit and read a book. And there were these two moms—they would walk the track—gorgeous! I should have been walking the track—okay?—[Laughter]—but I’m just going to sit and read a book; okay?! [Laughter]
They’re walking the track; they’re beautiful! I mean, I always thought, “I bet they’re just kind of stuck-up and snobby; like, ‘Why are they working out?’ Just don’t; stop.” You know? [Laughter] I never approached them. I had preconceived ideas about who they were, and what they were like, and how they would be towards me.
Then, a couple years later, I started a Bible study in my home. I just kind of—that was a big step too—but I just reached out and invited some moms that I had their phone number—that our kids went to school together. And those two ladies showed up. We’ve been doing Bible study together now for about three years. When I told them that story for the first time, they were like, “Are you kidding!? Why didn’t you come walk with us?!” They’re such genuine friends of mine now; and it was that someone had to go over and kind of put down their walls—lay down my pride; because that’s a form of pride, of going, “I’m not going to do that,”—then, you find out you have these genuine relationships that you would have missed out on.
Bob: But you know, here’s what’s going on: when you tried to do that in middle school, where back there—
Jamie: —you got hurt!
Bob: That’s right. The girls wouldn’t let you sit at the table with them; and so you grow up, thinking, “I’m not going to go approach them, because they’re just going to blow me off like the girls in middle school did.
Jamie: Yes, yes.
Bob: “And then, I’m going to get hurt.”
Ann: But I’m not sure girls in middle school—if you complimented a girl in middle school—I’m not sure she would blow you off. What do you think?
Jamie: I have like blocked out middle school. [Laughter] My brain will not let me go back there!
Ann: But you’re right. We have wounds in the past that affect us.
Dave: This is not a woman/this is a human issue.
Bob: Yes, it is.
Jamie: It’s humanity, for sure.
Dave: I was working out in a gym, years ago; you can tell I work out every day.
Bob: It was years ago; right? [Laughter] I can tell it was years ago!
Ann: You look good, hon! You look good.
Dave: This is my wife; of course, she’s going to say that.
But I’ll never forget this day; because it’s similar in terms of the gym. You know, guys walk around; and they compare bodies.
Dave: You know, back then, it was bench presses; right? And there was this guy, who was huge, throwing up 300-something on a bench, which, if you don’t know, that’s a lot of weight. Steve and I are over here, doing our 185/maybe 200. We were in our 30s, so we were young and in pretty good shape. But this guy!—usually, those guys/at least, in my opinion—get up and they go to the drinking fountain every two minutes so everybody can see how big they are.
Ann: —see them!
Dave: You know, they just walk by you. I’m literally on the bench, and Steve is spotting me. I’m looking at this guy, like, “What a jerk! Look at this guy. He’s so big, and he’s lifting so much weight. He’s walking around, getting drinks every three minutes.” All I know is, my buddy Steve—who we started this church together 30 years ago—he walks over to this guy, while he’s on the bench; he goes, “Dude! Man, you look great, and you’re throwing up all that weight! Way to go, Dude! Man, I wish I could do it like that. You look awesome!”
I’m looking at Steve, like, “What are you doing!? You just broke the man code! You don’t do that in a gym! You don’t compliment another guy’s body!” And this guy, I mean, he looked up at him, and it was like he came alive! It was like he couldn’t believe another man—like you said—cheer-leaded him—
Dave: —and said, “You look awesome.” I’m telling you—every time we were in the gym after that—that guy ran over to us and said, “Hey, man! How are you guys doing? What’s up?” We were his friends!
Dave: Well, actually, Steve was; I was still jealous. But it was just watching what happens to somebody when you—and by the way, my whole perspective of that guy changed!
Dave: But it didn’t seem that way.
Jamie: The thing we have to remember is: humanity was broken in the Garden, and we all have insecurities.
Jamie: You look at that woman or that man, and you think, “They’re secure; they don’t have to deal with what I deal with.” And then, you get to know them, and you’re like, “Oh! You have the same issues I have!
Jamie: “You have the same identity problems I have!” We all need Jesus; that’s the answer. But we believe the reality that says, “Everyone else is good, and no one struggles like I do.” And then, you get to know the person, who you think is perfect; and you realize, “Oh! You’re insecure. I thought you weren’t, because you’re beautiful.” And she’s like, “I’m, actually, really insecure too.” We have so much more in common.
Bob: I’ve never forgotten reading an article in the mid-‘90s, where an interview was done with some of the top supermodels in the world—women who are paid millions of dollars for how they look—they asked them, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you see yourself?” And these women gave themselves 7s and 8s; and immediately pointed out: “My nose is crooked,” or “I’ve got this flaw,” or “…this problem.” They were so fixated on the flaw.
And we’re talking about physical appearance, which you have to keep in mind here, God looks on the inside; man looks on the outside. Physical appearance is not nothing, but it’s not where we should be trying to find our identity. Yet, I think the point is: “Every one of us looks with some envy.” You were talking about social media, Dave; and I was thinking, “Instagram, and Twitter, and Facebook cause you to break the Tenth Commandment regularly. You are coveting what your neighbor has.”
This is where we’ve got to come back and say, “Now what does God say is true? Find our identity”—that’s where we started—“Find your identity in Christ; anchor yourself in that. That’s where you can say, ‘Okay, this is who God made me to be. He delights in it. I’m going to delight in it as well and find my life there,’—rather than being jealous that—‘She can sing better than I can,’ ‘He’s smarter than I am,’ ‘And that person over there can bake better than I can.’” So what?!—right? “You be you!”—that’s what I was thinking: right? [Laughter]
Jamie: You be you!
Ann: You be you!
Bob: I’ll get the book plug in right here. And, by the way, we are making your book available this week to any FamilyLife Today listener who can help support the mission of FamilyLife®. If you want to invest in the marriages and families of people in your community/people all around the world—if you want to help provide practical biblical help and hope for people who are looking for it—you can make a donation today and ask for a copy of Jamie’s book, You Be You. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make an online donation, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate.
Let me just say—on behalf of those who listen every day/those who get in touch with us and let us know how God is using the ministry of FamilyLife Today in their lives—thank you for that investment! You have no idea how many families/how many marriages are stronger today, because of the investment you’ve made. Again, donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and request your copy of Jamie Ivey’s book, You Be You; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And if you are not yet subscribed to Jamie’s podcast, which is called The Happy Hour, we’ve got a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com; and you can go there and find out more about how you can listen to Jamie regularly. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about how embracing our identity and leaning into who God made us to be still requires us to confront the fact that we’re rebels; we’re sinners. We certainly don’t want to embrace that. Jamie Ivey will be here with us tomorrow to talk more about that. I hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Bruce Goff, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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