I can still picture the look on my neighbor Kristy’s face as she stood on my porch with her van running. Thankfully, she didn’t look angry or exasperated. Maybe just puzzled. Why in the world were we late, again? Kristy’s eyes seemed to ask.
As my daughter scrambled to get her tennis racket and water bottle, I scrambled to find an apology that didn’t sound completely redundant.
“Kristy, I’m so sorry…” I said, feeling so much shame. It was the third day in a row that we had made everyone late.  
I groaned as she drove away, wondering how she was able to show up on time, day after day—with makeup on, hair done, ready to drop the kids off on her way to work. While I was hardly able to roll out of bed in time to get my kid out to the driveway.
I obsessed about it all morning. Should I quit carpool? Maybe I should pull my daughter out of tennis. For sure, I needed to distance myself from Kristy, and probably the whole world! I considered nailing curtains over the windows, so I could finally be free of comparing.
I didn’t want to see neighbors rushing off to do important things with their day. And I didn’t want them to see me, either, as I read picture books to my preschooler, picked up legos, and served slightly burned grilled cheese sandwiches. That’s what I did. That’s all I did. And yet I still couldn’t get my act together. A Measure-Up World 
Those times when it’s so obvious that I don’t measure up, I’m haunted by the same comparison messages, circulating in my mind:
Look at her. She’s a success story and you’re a complete fail. You’ll never measure up to her. You should just pull away from her. She must think you’re ridiculous.
The truth is, I did (and do) need to work harder on timeliness. But the idea that I have to measure up and I should be ashamed when I don’t is not one that comes from Jesus. This is the measure-up wisdom of the world, hissed by the voice of my enemy who wants to destroy my potential and divide me from the people God wants me to link arms with and serve beside.
In the years that I lived near Kristy, she was always teaching me something new and inspiring me to serve the Lord with great gusto. And my enemy was always tempting me to compare and feel less-than, then pull away. Once in a while, I would notice that I was superior to Kristy in some way, and my heart would flood with pride. But pride also quashes my potential for serving the Lord and connecting with other believers.   Tuning my Ear to Jesus 
So how do I guard myself from these destructive messages of my enemy? Here’s how. By learning to discern the voice of Jesus, recorded in the pages of my Bible. I must listen long enough and carefully enough, so that when those “you’re a mess” or “you should pull away” messages come, I know enough to say, “Umm… That’s not something my Jesus would say.”
The same is true when I’m tempted to compare down in superiority. Thoughts like, “Look, she failed! Now she’ll stop making you look bad,” or, “You should ignore her, so people don’t think she’s your friend,” are also not from Jesus. He never said anything remotely like this!
When Jesus encountered people who were comparing and feeling “less than” or “better than” he taught them a better way to see themselves and others. He taught them to live me-free. What Jesus Did Say about Comparison 
When people were comparing up or comparing down, Jesus often replied with his own set of pithy comparison statements, such as:
Some are last who will be first. (Luke 13:30)
Whoever humbles herself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
The greatest is the one who humbles herself. (Matthew 18:1-4)
He wants us to know that in heaven, things don’t stack up like here in the world, and there’s one key difference: The measure-up world presses us to be entirely me-focused. We might be glancing sideways and either puffing up in pride or shrinking back in shame, but our gaze always returns to ourselves.
But when we follow Jesus, we’ll always be encouraged to turn our focus to others instead of ourselves. This “me-free living” is what guards us the me-focused comparison of the world—for when we lean down low to serve someone else, we naturally stop trying measure-up. How to be Me-Free 
When I’m living to measure up, I can spend entire days obsessing over whether to quit carpool or staple my curtains because my eyes are riveted on me. Me-free living allows me to truly see and consider other people, rather than hyper-focusing on how they see me.
Sure, I might need to apologize for my mistakes. But when I’m untethered from the question of How do I measure up? I can move on to more important questions like, What can I learn? How can I become a kinder, more generous friend? Perhaps I’ll be prompted to get up earlier or lay things out the night before—but not so that I can finally stop obsessing about my failures. Instead I can focus on serving others and finally stop obsessing about me. 
  About the book Do you constantly compare yourself with others? On social media, in your neighborhood, at church, or in the school drop-off lane, do you push yourself to prove that you measure up . . . and then feel ashamed when you don’t? Measuring yourself against others isn’t healthy. And it isn’t God’s plan. In fact, the way of Jesus is completely upside down from this measure-up world. He invites us to follow him and be restored to freedom, confidence, and joy.

Join Shannon Popkin as she shares what she has discovered about her own measure-up fears and get-ahead pride. With her trademark humor and straightforward honesty, she’s created this six-week Bible study to explore the conversations Jesus had and the stories he shared with people who–like us–were comparing themselves.

Leave measure-up comparison behind and connect with those around you by choosing Jesus’s me-free way of living: lifting others up and pouring yourself out!

Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World
by Shannon Popkin

Kregel Publications – May 19, 2020
ISBN: 9780825446214 – $16.99 About the author Shannon Popkin is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves pointing others to the truth of God’s Word. She combines her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She regularly speaks at Christian women’s events and retreats, encouraging women of all ages to put their hope in God.
Popkin is also a regular contributor to the True Woman blog, her writing and speaking has been featured on FamilyLife Today, Proverbs 31 and Revive Our Hearts. She is the author of several books, including Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the BibleInfluence: Building a Platform That Elevates Jesus (Not Me), and Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World.
Popkin and her husband, Ken, have been married for more than twenty years and live in West Michigan. They have three children—one in high school and two in college.
Connect with Shannon Popkin by visiting www.shannonpopkin.com, following her on Facebook (shanpopkin), Instagram (shannonpopkin), or Twitter (@ShannonPopkin).