I have struggled with low self-confidence since childhood. When someone compliments me, I mentally list others who do it bigger, better, grander than I.
I rarely try anything new or (gasp) a little silly because I fear what others might say. I imagine their judgmental thoughts: she’s such a klutz, such a fool, a real loser. I constantly hear the inner voice of Mom’s stern warning: What will the neighbors think?
But all this comparison and worry of others’ opinions is unhealthy. In fact, it is unbiblical.
We are called to love others AS ourselves. This means I need to treat myself with compassion, grace and mercy. And I must learn to accept myself as I am: my gifts, talents, strengths, and weaknesses.
We bring joy to God by becoming who He created us to be.
How I must disappoint Him when I devalue my accomplishments. How I must frustrate Him when I compare my shortcomings to someone else’s expertise.
Comparison robs me of the opportunity to become my best, and it denies God joy.
In reading through the Psalms earlier this year, I marveled at the number of the times nature is used to illustrate God’s truth. And this particular word image came to mind: God creates the apple tree to produce apples. That is its sole purpose and the apple tree willingly obeys.
The apple tree doesn’t look at the orange tree and wish it could produce oranges. It doesn’t resent it is an apple tree, or harbor envy that it is not an orange tree. The apple tree accepts its role in life and is content to fulfill that purpose.
The apple tree doesn’t look at other trees in the orchard and wish it could be like them. It doesn’t put itself down. It doesn’t judge its fruit to the other, wishing its apples could be bigger, redder, or more plentiful. It merely produces the best apples possible.
The Granny Smith doesn’t bemoan the fact that its fruit is tart. It doesn’t wish it could be a sweet Honey Crisp. It is satisfied with its lot in life, and so is the Lord. God knows there is a unique purpose for each variety of apple. Think of it, without Granny Smiths we wouldn’t have the perfect apple pie filled with warm firm fruit, rather, we would have mealy mush inside a pastry crust.
Sometimes the apple tree needs a little help. If it is allowed to grow wild with no direction or discipline, it can’t achieve its full potential. The farmer must water, fertilize, and sometimes prune to help the tree become its best. This pruning is out of love and respect for the tree; it is not a form of chastisement or punishment.
And so the apple tree accepts its calling to produce apples. It derives joy from doing exactly what it is supposed to do.
Nature is teaching me to stop comparing and to simply accept who God created me to be. This lesson brings me joy and peace, even as it honors God and brings Him delight.
“…He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” ~ Zephaniah 3:17
©2016 Molly Totoro – for GateWay of Hope
Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.