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4 lies teen girls often tell themselves (book excerpt)


I hope you grew up in a home where you were loved. I hope there was someone cheering when you said your first words or took your first steps. I hope your art was taped to the fridge and there were moments you twirled in mismatched clothes, feeling like the most beautiful little girl in the world. But even if all of this was true for you, I’ll bet there was a moment when it ended.

I remember when that happened to me. I went to sixth-grade camp a carefree, happy-go-lucky girl. I came home filled with sick-to-my-stomach inadequacy, convinced I needed to reinvent myself and learn how to do my hair and wear makeup. What made the difference? I was rudely awakened by comparison and all the ways I didn’t measure up.

They say that comparison is a game, but I don’t think so. I think it’s a strategy used by an enemy who preys on that moment a girl’s eyes first blink open to comparison. That’s when he starts feeding her lies that keep her stuck in anxiety, isolation, perfectionism or a hundred other destructive behaviors.

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The teen you love may not even be aware that she has an enemy, but she does. The Bible is clear: he wants to lure her into traps and tangle her with lies. While I don’t want her to be scared, I do want her to be free! So here are four lies of comparison and truth that set girls of every age free.

Lie one: You’re not enough

Think of your life like a measuring cup — the glass kind with the lines on the side. In your cup is everything that makes you you. Are you super outgoing? Are you friendly and kind? Are you artistic or smart? Do you have a lovely voice or a big house? In your cup, your gifts, resources, and abilities are brimming with potential.

That potential is what the enemy wants to steal, and here is his effective tactic: He tempts you to put your cup next to another girl’s as he whispers, “See her? You’ll never measure up. You’ll never be enough.”

This is a lie — not because you don’t have less than someone else; sometimes you do. But that girl you’re comparing with, and you have this in common: You’re both created in God’s image. He says you reflect him, and that’s what makes you infinitely valuable, regardless of what is in your cup.

Lie two: You’re all that

I think it’s interesting that God put different amounts in different measuring cups. If it were me, I’d make them equal so no one would feel hurt. Yet God who is wise and good and free to do whatever He likes thought it best to give more of this to one and more of that to another. But if He gave you more of something, it wasn’t so you could brag and think of yourself as “all that.”

Everything in your cup is from God, and nothing is given so you can outdo someone else. Think of the example we have in Jesus.

If Jesus had a measuring cup it would be the biggest one, brimming full of zero lack. And what did Jesus do with all of His greatness? Philippians 2:7-8 says, “He emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant … becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus turned His measuring cup upside down and because He did, God gave Him the name above all names (Philippians 2:9)! So, humility — focusing on the spout, not the lines — is what God celebrates.

Lie three: You shouldn’t notice differences

People say, “Just stop comparing,” and I say, “How?” Are we supposed to wear blinders like horses do? Comparison is as natural as noticing that you’re tall and I’m short. The problem is when we attach values to those differences.

But what about when you do have more of something in your measuring cup? Does humility require that you pretend you don’t?

No, that’s not how Jesus practiced humility; He never pretended that he wasn’t God’s son, or that he didn’t deserve worship. Jesus demonstrated humility by taking all of his greatness and using it to serve others — and that’s what humility looks like for us as well.

Whether you have more money, more charisma, more skill, or more smarts, it’s good for you to notice how God filled your cup with extra and then focus on the spout, not the lines. I call that living me-free.

Lie four: To have influence, you have to measure up

Influence is all the rage. Having followers and getting likes seems to be about having more in your cup and proving it. But the girl trying to prove she has more is the one stuck in the comparison trap. It’s as if she walks into every room — virtual or not — with her eyes on her little pocked-sized mirror (the kind that comes with makeup, asking herself, “Am I okay? Does that boy think I’m pretty? Did that girl make me look dumb?”)

I’m sure you think it’s bad for a girl to think poorly of herself. But what about when a girl can’t stop thinking about herself? We usually think of comparison as focusing on others, but really it’s a preoccupation with self. And here’s the irony. The girl who snaps her mirror shut and walks in with her eyes up and her smile wide, focused on the other people in the room — this is the girl with true influence.

Only the truth that makes all of this possible.

Think of that teen girl you love with her measuring cup, brimming with potential. Her enemy wants to steal her potential and tie her up in comparison’s knots, but God wants her to live like it’s true that she is accepted and loved — not because of what’s in her cup, but because of the One who calls her a treasure.

The me-free teen doesn’t pretend she has less in her cup or try to prove she has more. She just takes whatever God has given her and focuses on the spout, not the li

This is an excerpt from Comparison Girl For Teens:  Thriving in a World that Measures and Compares.

Shannon Popkin and Lee Nienhuis are co-authors of the new book Comparison Girl For Teens:Thriving in a World that Measures and Compares, available wherever books are sold.

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