So, I recently had the most beautiful and fruitful confession I have had in a long time (I may have finally found a spiritual director!!) and for my penance, he instructed me to reflect on 1 Corinthians 12 and see how I can apply that to every aspect of my life. This passage is easily one of the most important passages in the Bible, especially for us women, and yet for some reason, it’s never really talked about. So, I’m going to copy and paste it word for word so all of you have the opportunity to read it before I continue on with my reflection on it.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
1 Corinthians 12: 12-27If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as He chose – Sisters, I have let comparison and envy of other women enter into my heart and distort my friendships for too long. It’s crazy that as a woman striving towards freedom and working daily to create a female community on my campus that I would allow such a poisonous thing enter into my heart but it seemed to happen so slowly and then all at once, to the point where I couldn’t control it. I saw the relationships that women on my campus have and I wanted that. I saw the Catholic moms on Instagram with the most beautiful little families at a point in their life that I want to be at and I longed for it. I saw girls with cuter clothing than I did and it sparked jealousy in my heart. I felt uncomfortable in a situation when other women made it seem like the easiest interaction and I felt resentment underneath the surface.
I did not want to be the part of the body that God assigned me. I wanted to be the eye when I was created to be an ear. I saw that the “eye” seemed to be happier and get all the attention and I strived to become like it. And this passage taught me how ridiculous that truly was. God doesn’t want me to be a mom blogger right now. He doesn’t want me in a relationship or chasing after babies or trying to be cool – He wants me right where He has put me, right now.
Comparison is truly the thief of all joy and I see that more clearly now than ever.
Comparison and envy over things like clothes, physical beauty, and gifts destroy female friendships that can build the kingdom into an unstoppable force. The devil has truly done a good job in our culture today with social media (which has the power to do so so much good), and this idea of “ideal feminine beauty” that has made it almost impossible to feel like enough. The devil knows that the values of a culture are dependent upon the women who live in it and so he has attacked us nonstop since the fall and the attacks are only going to get worse the more we fight against it.
You are who you are because God created you to be this way and you are an essential aspect of this church, brokenness and all. Even if I am the littlest of pinky toes, I am of the utmost importance to the unity and wholeness of the Church. If we try to be someone or something we are not, if we strive towards an existence and a plan that isn’t what God intended for us, then the body will cease to function properly – that is how important your role in the Church is. So, comparison and envy are bad… how in heaven’s name do we fight it? Vulnerability – the scariest thing of all time. I have found that the more honest I am about my shortcomings, about where I’m feeling insecure, and allow myself to not be perfect that is when the urge to compare myself begins to subside. At a camp I worked at this summer, I was co-leading with this girl who had the most beautiful and free and charismatic faith. I had all these fears running through my head that the teens would like her more and that she would make more of an impact on their lives and I’d be forgotten. I was letting all this darkness enter my mind and I knew if I didn’t do something about it fast I would let it destroy our friendship… so I spoke those fears and insecurities out loud to my whole community of women and the healing was immediate.
When everyone thinks that your life is perfect then they will start to compare their imperfections to little pieces of false “perfection” that they see in your life. We as women need to start being more vulnerable and real with each other if we want to finally live in a community that we so desire. I have talked to so many women recently, on my campus and online, who feel so alone (heck, I’m pretty much in the same boat right now) but I’m recognizing that the more vulnerable I am with other women the easier it is to break down barriers and form true and good friendships void of comparison and envy.
You, sister, are an essential part of the unity of this Church – don’t you forget that.
And, if you are struggling to be vulnerable try saying the Litany of Humility (linked here). It does the trick every time.