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Eliminating Comparison Once and For All

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Author, Killing Comparison, (Zondervan, 2022)

Leads Global Faith-Based Partnerships at Facebook

Founder and CEO of Nona Jones Ministries

Serves as CEO of eChurch Partners, a digital discipleship firm; Co-pastor of Open Door Ministries with her husband, Tim

International speaker; Named by Essence magazine as an Under 40 Woman to Watch

Accomplished vocalist, songwriter, worship leader and musician who wrote, composed and co-produced her Billboard-Charting Gospel Album, Take Me

Graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor in Communications and Master of Business Administration; Completed graduate studies at the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation

Married to Tim; Two children: TJ and Isaac

TOXIC COMPARISON

“Your unique value and identity were skillfully designed before you were formed. This is why it is unwise to compare yourself with anyone else,” shares Nona. Social media, although not the cause of insecurity, can expose your insecurity.

One morning, Nona shares how her insecurity was triggered when she looked at her newsfeed on Facebook (this was during COVID). She saw that eight of her friends were invited to speak at a major women’s conference. She had already been a speaker at many churches and conferences. Yet somehow not being invited to speak at this conference bothered her because she felt like she didn’t measure up.

All she could think was, “Why wasn’t I invited to speak?” The Holy Spirit said, “Nona, the reason you’re hurt by not being invited to speak at that conference is because you measure your worth based on how much people approve of you compared to others…Your insecurity didn’t start this morning. You’ve been insecure most of your life.”

As Nona reflected on what God was saying to her she realized that she had made the mistake of basing her value with likes, follows, shares, and speaking invitations. She asked God to help deliver her from insecurity. There is freedom and healing when you learn to secure your identity to the only true and unwavering foundation: who your Creator made you to be and the unique purpose only you can fulfill.

Nona’s insecurity stemmed from her abusive childhood and her negative body image. She struggled with the hurtful words of her mom. Then to make matters worse at a football game in high school her self-esteem tanked when a teen boy accidently brushed his pelvis against her trying to regain his balance. Nona yelled in shock when the incidence occurred. The boy was embarrassed because his friends were laughing at him and said to her, “What are you screaming for? I don’t want you! With a body like that, you’re not good for anything but sex with the lights off, anyway.”

His words reinforced a belief she had held for years: the belief that she wasn’t wanted. Nona developed an eating disorder (bulimia) which she struggled with for a decade. She lost weight in an unhealthy way and gained the attention of boys in high school. At her lowest weight she still saw the girl with the weight problem from years ago. This mental health condition is called body dysmorphic disorder and to this day she still struggles with it.

Toxic comparison is when you identify people in your social circle who have an attainable degree of success. You secure your identity to getting to where they are on the worthiness ruler. Every time they advance (job promotion, weight loss, etc.) your identity feels threatened because their success moves them further out of reach. You have made them the standard for perfection without understanding that you are perfect beyond compare to God.

You can stop the downward spiral of toxic comparison when you address the root cause by recognizing how it shows up in your feelings, thoughts, and actions. The four emotions you may wrestle with the most include: bitterness, sadness, shame, and fear. The process for addressing each one is the same. Recognize when you feel the emotion, recognize what you think in response to that emotion, and recognize what you do in response to those thoughts.
                                              
SAUL VS. DAVID 

“Comparison changes the way you see yourself because it can cause you to see yourself through the eyes of others,” shares Nona. To illustrate this point, she uses the Bible story of Saul and David. Saul’s downfall as king was rooted in insecurity-fueled disobedience. He believed he came from an inconsequential and unimportant family. God instructed Saul to obliterate a population of Amalekites which had attacked Israel when they were tired and weak. He was also told to destroy everything they owned. Saul caved to the pressure of pleasing his soldiers and disobeyed. He kept the best cattle, sheep, etc.

Samuel was sent to pronounce judgement on Saul. The kingdom was ultimately taken from him. David was then anointed as king. His thinking was different than Saul’s thinking. David did not ask the question, “Why would you anoint me king?” He did not do so because that question was rooted in the opinion of others. Instead, after being called from the field, anointed with oil, and introduced as the new king of Israel, David accepted his position and the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on him. God chose both men to be king, but while Saul secured his identity to who others said he was, David secured his identity to who God said he was. Your identity is secure when you believe what God says about you is true. 

After working on a draining report at work one day, Nona posted a picture of herself sitting in her office on social media. Her status update read, “Brain on E” (exhaustion). She was surprised to see the number of positive likes and compliments she received about the post on her appearance; it changed the way she saw herself that day. Nona longed for more likes and comments. She began to wonder, “What should I post tomorrow to get people to like me?” “When we see ourselves through the eyes of others, we make others the source of our worthiness," says Nona. 

INSECURE FOUNDATIONS

“Sometimes we secure our identity to insecure foundations because a trusted voice led us to think it was the safest choice,” shares Nona. Below are some insecure foundations that you might attach your identity to:

•  Academic credentials – earning academic credentials is a great way to increase knowledge and expertise, but don’t let this become your purpose or passion or you will have secured your identity to an insecure foundation. In third grade, Nona’s teacher encouraged her. This motivated Nona to live up to her teacher’s expectations. She became a star student. As a result of her good grades her mom, who was usually abusive, took her to Olive Garden and bragged about her performance to her friends. That feeling of validation and worth convinced her heart that academic performances were a means to win approval.

•  Position – those who wrestle with insecurity often pursue leadership positions because they want to distinguish themselves as worthy of recognition. From a young age, Nona’s identity was secured to people’s approval because her mother’s approval was withheld. She did not believe she was valuable, so she worked very hard to win people’s approval. If she played sports, she needed to be the team captain. If she joined a club, she needed to the president. She needed to be in charge based on her need for significance.

•  Vocation – many presume that vocation is equal to identity. 

•  Marital status – this is considered a pinnacle of achievement for many. Don’t try to please parents, friends, or followers and commit to the wrong person. Nona married Tim not so people would find her desirable, but rather because she wanted to build a life with him. 

•  Appearance – Nona has maintained a one-hundred-pound weight loss for almost a decade. She posts about it regularly to encourage others that it is possible for them too. In 2013, Nona tipped the scales at 276 pounds and wore a size twenty. She got inspired to lose weight the healthy way after watching some weight loss videos, cleaning out unhealthy foods from her pantry, and purchasing a gym membership. In one year, she dropped a hundred pounds. She went from a size twenty to a size eight. 

A TRAUMATIC PAST

Nona’s biological father loved her very much, but unfortunately, he died before her second birthday. She was raised by an abusive mom who never wanted children. She often told Nona she was a burden and life would have been better if she had not been born. Her mom’s live-in boyfriend, Lee, sexually abused her.

At school Nona began acting out and was labeled a “problem child.” Nobody knew what she was battling at home. Food became her source of comfort. At school, she got teased for her weight by her classmates and by her mom at home. Nona decided she was worthless and attempted suicide twice, but failed. When Nona was twelve a classmate invited her to church where she asked Jesus into her heart.

Around this time her mom also kicked her out of the house because she did not do the dishes one night. Nona left the house in her pajamas and socks. She lived with a family that attended the church for the next month until her mom showed up at school and told her to come home. During her month away from her mom, she had started to dream of a future. When she returned home, Nona was not allowed to attend church or see the family that took her in. She set a goal for herself – graduate from high school and never come back. 

At school, her teachers began to encourage her, and she began to excel in school. By the time she graduated from high school she had accumulated many awards, recognitions, and honors and was offered a full academic scholarship to college. She also began attending church again and became a youth ministry leader. When Nona got to college, she was outwardly successful and confident, but inside she was full of bitterness and insecurities from her past. Healing finally came when she learned to forgive. Nona and her mom do not have a relationship today. She is unaware of Lee’s whereabouts, and he is no longer with her mom. 

After college, Nona married Tim and was hired with a Fortune 500 company as the chief external affair officer of a large nonprofit serving at risk girls in Florida. "Four years into the role, God said this assignment is over. So, I met with my boss that day; met with her at 1:00. I finished talking with her at 1:40, got in my car, was driving home. At 2:05 my cell phone rang, 25 minutes, my cell phone rang, and I didn't recognize the number. So, I wasn't going to answer it. But the Holy Spirit said, 'answer that.' I said, 'hello,' and the lady said, ‘is this Nona Jones?' And I said, 'yes,' and she said, 'I'm calling from Facebook.'"

Twenty-five minutes after she resigned from a job she loved, God blessed her with a job she never would have dreamed of because she did not think it was possible. Today she leads Global Faith-Based Partnerships at Facebook. She is also the Founder and CEO of Nona Jones Ministries and CEO of eChurch Partners, a digital discipleship firm. Nona also serves alongside her husband, Tim, at Open Door Ministries Church in Gainesville, Florida and is the proud mother of two.

 

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