When I’m tempted to procrastinate on a project, the first place I go to is Pinterest. Pinterest is a world of ideas all wrapped up in pretty pictures, cute outfits and delicious recipes. I could click on posts for hours!
One day as I was perusing outfit ideas, I found myself comparing my now-undesirable wardrobe to the adorable (and expensive) clothes pinned to the “My Style” board. I wish I could be as cute as these girls ALL the time, I thought.
When we are little, we imitate our parents and siblings in an effort to be like them and learn new skills. As we get older, we continue to imitate what we want to learn. But the priorities of our hearts determine what we are learning. It’s not uncommon for young women—from as young as age 10—to imitate people they deem “cool,” pretty, funny or talented in an effort to become that way themselves.
While we can definitely learn from others, imitation can quickly become part of the comparison game. As we compare ourselves to the people around us, we find an increasing need to imitate their behavior, trying to become like them in order to have what they have—attention, good looks or a cute wardrobe. We copy their outfits, interests and phrases. We mimic their hairstyles, makeup or body language. But if we allow ourselves to be trapped by imitation, we will forget who we were made to be as individuals and women of God.
Ephesians 5:1 tells us that imitation is not always a bad thing. In fact, this verse instructs us to actively imitate a very specific person: Jesus Christ! The apostle Paul, the author of Ephesians, urges us to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.” What example is he talking about? To understand, we have to go back to Ephesians 4:32, which says: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” The example God has set is one of kindness and compassion.
The Bible doesn’t forbid us from learning new hairstyles or styling a cute outfit after something we saw on Pinterest. But God doesn’t want this to be our top priority. He wants us to follow His example by loving others in the same way He has loved us: with a kind heart and a compassionate spirit.
Comparison, which often goes hand in hand with imitation, can easily cause us to lose a kind and compassionate spirit. Comparison produces insecurity, and insecurity makes us feel threatened by the beauty and skill of other girls. This is why we should be imitating God’s example of love FIRST. When we love others the way God loves us, we won’t fall into the comparison trap. We will be able to learn from other girls without being threatened by them. And we will be secure in who we are, what we look like and where we’re going in this life.
While there are plenty of people in this world who seem to “have it all together,” there is only One person who is truly worthy of imitation. Jesus is our standard because imitating Him results in the kind of character necessary to excel in other areas of life. If we want to be truly beautiful, we need to imitate the creator of beauty. If we want to be popular with people, we need to imitate the One who loves this world better than any human ever could. And if we want to live lives of purpose, we need to follow the example of the One who gave us life in the first place.