The story of Leah and Rachel is one that we can all relate to in life: the comparison trap. Their trap probably started at a young age, and unfortunately went into adulthood. Sometimes as parents we have to be extra careful not to be the catalyst for this type of thing happening. The sad reality of their family dysfunction showed that they were filled with constant thoughts of “let me see how I can one up you.” Round one began with “I’ll take your man”. Round two began with, ” I can have more kids than you”. This trap affects both men and women alike, and it ruins families, friendships, and work relationships. The comparison trap has several things that lie at the root. The three that God has spoken to me about are rejection, self-worth, and contentment.
When we read the story of Leah and Rachel, there are several things that we can directly and indirectly perceive. The first thing perceived is that beauty and popularity won hearts. People often shy away from us when we don’t fit into their standard for beauty, dress, hairstyle, etc. If this is our area of brokenness, not fitting into someone else’s standards could lead to insecurity and internalization as rejection. There are two sections of verses that tell us that one of Leah’s issues was rejection. Here is the first:
Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Genesis 29:16-17, NIV
The second section of scripture tells us about why Leah became fruitful right away:
30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. Genesis 29:30-31, NIV
We see that self-worth comes into play because Leah mentions on more than one occasion that her husband would love her now that God had opened her womb. We see how the phrase, “Oh, but he will love me since I’m pregnant with his child” worked out even then. She said nothing about God loving her, and his love for her being enough.
32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.
34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
Genesis 29: 32, 34, KJV
In verse 35 of Genesis, it seems as though Leah has finally resolved to be content in the state that she was in:
35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. Genesis 29: 35, KJV
So we thought. Unfortunately this was Leah’s and Rachel’s stronghold. Right after Leah’s place of contentment, her sister Rachel can’t stand the fact that insists that Jacob sleeps with her handmaid so that she could have children, and since Leah had left child bearing, she followed suit in doing the same:
8 Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won!” So she named him Naphtali [My Struggle].
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her slave Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as his wife.
Genesis 30: 8-9, GW
The vicious cycle of rejection, no self-worth, and discontentment started up again:
13 Leah said, “I’ve been blessed! Women will call me blessed.” So she named him Asher [Blessing]. Genesis 30:13, KJV
20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. Genesis 30:20, KJV
Strongholds are hard to get rid of. Like Leah, I was born with a weak eye. I had to wear a patch over my other eye in order for my brain to train my weak eye to use itself, and prevent blindness. I remember the whole process as being quite traumatic: siting in doctor’s offices for 5 to 6 hours, eye exams, a patch, more eye exams, and then eye dilation, and leaving the doctor’s office. I felt helpless as I was walking across the street with my mom, while holding her hand to wait for the bus.
Fast forward some years later, like Leah, I dealt with the feelings of rejection due to abandonment by my father, and then feelings of rejection due to the comment that another teenage girl made in response to my physical appearance. I internalized this comment, and it was used as a tool to produce no self-worth, leading to seeking approval through high achievement in school, through others, and my ex-husband. It also led to years of being in an emotionally abusive marriage, where I sought him for a good portion of my self-worth.
Getting caught up in shopping and other things in order to improve my appearance, and feel like I could qualify to compete, only kept the cycle going. There will always be someone who’s prettier, smarter, and dresses better. We have to be safe and secure in who we are in Christ, knowing that this brings true contentment and self-worth, no matter what other people are saying or thinking. We are all broken individuals in need of a Savior, and God loves us much more than anyone else ever could.
We thank you in advance for rescuing us from the comparison trap. We also thank you that only in you, are we enough. Otherwise, we might become filled with self-pride, criticism, and judgment. Please help us to break free of this stronghold.
In the mighty name of Jesus,