Am I putting too much stock into what others are saying to me? Surely they meant something by that gesture. She cleared her throat. Was that an eye roll? What is the motive behind their kindness? This is not leading into an article on conspiracy theories. However, as a woman, I feel a bit paranoid about what others are thinking about me at times.
Women are emotional beings and we tend to hold onto every little thing and over analyze it. Recently, I saw this post: "Admire someone else's beauty without questioning your own." Comparing ourselves to others is a trap that is so easy to fall into, but a very difficult one to climb out of on our own. We want to be pretty, smart, and talented. We want others to take notice. We admire these qualities in other women, but may have a tough time stopping at that. Instead we criticize ourselves for not having those same characteristics. This is an open door for the enemy to start whispering in our ears that we have nothing to offer.
Here is one thing that I learned many years ago: most women who seem extremely sure of themselves are actually very insecure. I have met women who appear overly confident, some who could be professional comedians, and others who could be on the cover of a magazine. When I have taken the time to look these women in the eyes and get to know them, I realize very quickly they are wearing masks.
Making people laugh, I learned, was their defense mechanism. The false confidence I was seeing in other women turned out to be a wall they had built to keep others out. The women who were always looking in the mirror or taking multiple selfies everyday were not conceited and stuck on themselves. They didn't like the way they looked at all and constantly wanted to be reassured that they did look okay, but all they could see were their flaws. (There is actually a term for this: body dysmorphic disorder).
My point is that there are so many hurting women out there. If we could slow down from our busy days and take the time to look someone in the eye, how much healing could be done! We could get to know those around us on such deeper levels, enabling us to encourage each other instead of comparing ourselves to each other. I saw another post recently that I love. It said, "On the darkest days, when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy, I remember Whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown." Remember Who created you. The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Claim that and live like it!
Take the time to tell someone how beautiful they are. Chances are they need to hear it. For those that are always cracking jokes, slow down, open up and give them an opportunity to be transparent with you. For those women whose talents seem to stand out above the rest, comment on how you admire them for what they do. The reality is that they are probably wearing themselves out trying to meet a standard they have been told they are not good enough to achieve.
In doing this, however, do not let it in any way ricochet and make you feel less than. We have all been created for a purpose. Be assured of who you are and what you have to offer. I have learned to see relationships as a tag team situation. I have taken the time to discover the gifts that my friends have. Now if someone comes to me needing something that I cannot fulfill, I have a wealth of resources to which I can point people. There have been people directed to me as well for the same reason.
Instead of getting jealous of the gifts of others and falling into the self-pity trap, we can work together. Get to know the people around you so that you understand what they have to offer and what resource category they can fill for you. Learn to appreciate their gifts and learn to recognize your own. Learn to look people in the eye. You never know when they might let you SEE them.
Contributed by JoEllen Claypool
JoEllen Claypool is the author of The Secrets Behind the Eyes, A Realist's Guide to Being a Pastor's Wife, Realistic Tips to Being a Pastor's Wife, Are You on the Verge of a Spiritual Heart Attack?, and a contributing author of the Eclectic Collage Volumes 2, 3, and 4. She serves in the ministry with her husband who pastors a small country church in Caldwell, Idaho. Understanding the impact that one person can make, JoEllen is eager to reach out and encourage others to make right choices so that lives can be saved. Check out JoEllen's blog posts: Making the Most of Every Opportunity
Happy Reading as you search for real answers to real life issues!