It sounds so good. So motivating. So encouraging. It sounds like it’s pushing us away from the comparison trap. But it’s a lie. It’s created a new comparison trap and it’s drowning us.
You don’t have to be perfect – just better than you were yesterday!
The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.
Look in the mirror – that’s your competition.
These words have brainwashed us. Whether from a workout class, an inspirational speaker, or just a quote on Instagram. It sounds good in theory. Don’t settle or become apathetic, right? Keep working, keep pushing. But this is the mindset that our world has convinced us that has us locked into the belief that we’ll never actually be enough.
It’s put us in competition with ourselves. As if we needed more pressure.
And if, for some reason, we aren’t much better than we were yesterday, we feel like a failure. I know I’ve been there. I’m plugging along on my beach body workout and Autumn is trying to encourage me, saying, ” You don’t have to be better than me, you just have to be a better version of you than you were yesterday!” But I’m dying and can’t do another push up and I definitely did more push ups yesterday. You get the idea.
I am one hundred percent convinced this is where so much of our anxiety comes from. This is what gives us that illusion of the truth that our if our progress isn’t upward and linear, we’re failing.
I’ve just begun to wonder what Jesus thinks of the phrases we’ve coined as truth in our every day lives. As we run around encouraging each other and ourselves to just be a “better” version of us, I wonder if His heart breaks a little. If He’s quietly saying, “But I’ve already made you the best version of you. I’ve made you in My image. Formed by my hand. Purposed for a calling that will bring Me glory.”
By pushing to be a better version of ourselves, we’re continuing to rely on ourselves. We’re wearing ourselves out while we have a Father who doesn’t hold the same expectations. In fact, He’s got a future that, although it’s for good; it’s full of ups and downs. It’s not full of “better than yesterday” because that’s not how He works. It’s full of pain and joy and learning and growing. It’s full of missed steps to learn more about His grace.
Instead of better, He’s focusing on closer.
Less measuring, more grace.
Less striving, more resting.
Less achievement, more growth.
Less independence, more reliance.
Less popularity, more intimacy.
While we make charts of our progress and compare ourselves to yesterday, our Maker is simply holding up a mirror to our faces to reflect His glory. Our progress has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him. The mirror is not your competition. It’s the beautiful tool God uses to remind us Who’s we truly are.
So if you’ve spent three months relatively free from anxiety and somehow found yourself unable to breathe again, rest. You don’t have to be better than yesterday.
If you’ve worked on your anger and thought you overcame it, only to be caught up in rage again, rest. You don’t have to be better than yesterday.
If you spent so much time working your way out of that dark hole, only to feel like it may be swallowing you back up again, rest. You don’t have to be better than yesterday.
If you thought you were making progress on that dream, and it just suddenly seems to be halted and nothing is moving forward, rest. You don’t have to be better than yesterday.
It can stop here. This secret striving. This weary comparing. Instead of working to be better, we can surrender and simply choose to be closer.
“We can all draw close to Him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into His very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
[2 Corinthians 3:18]