In the movie “The Hate U Give,” every morning Starr took the car ride from Garden Heights to Williamson where she said goodbye to her mother then morphed into Starr version 2. Starr maneuvered between her working-class neighborhood and her school in the suburbs where she was constantly code switching—moving between multiple social identities—as an act of survival. Starr described it as, “I got to keep them separate and that means flipping the switch in my brain.”
Witnessing the horrific killing of her friend Natasha and being able to identify the shooter but going along with the silence demanded by the law of the street, Starr learned the acts of code switching at such a young age. She confidently flipped the switch between Garden Heights with her family and childhood friends to Starr version 2 at Williamson. Likewise, so many of us can relate to fluently flipping the switching.
As I touched on in my blog, “Are You Humbling or Numbing Yourself,” Starr is like most of us who have mastered adulthood but, beyond the outward social performance depicted, we are all dealing with our own life challenges and dilemmas. Although the past, the emotional trauma, the scars, and the weight of suppressing pain all went along with Starr to Williamson, the only thing that outwardly survived the transition from her neighborhood were her shoes… black retro Jordan Space Jams XIs. These Jordans earned her kudos in both worlds. Perhaps if someone from either side —Garden Heights or Williamson— knew what it took to walk in them, they would stop admiring her shoes.
You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17
When is the last time you admired another woman’s shoes because of what was outwardly depicted? We can easily find ourselves comparing everything from our appearance to career success, regardless of how much or how little we know about the other woman. Think about times when you were simply sitting in the doctor office’s waiting room with another woman for all of two minutes and you unintentionally began making self-limiting assumptions about how she might have been better than you. Honestly admit, have you ever fell into a comparison trap?
Comparison is especially effortless in these times when technology and social media makes it so much more accessible. It can happen so quickly when you are at home scrolling through Facebook and your timeline is filled with your friends’ happy photos and cheery status updates. Even if you logically know you’re seeing a filtered, internet-friendly version of someone’s life, that doesn’t make the cycle of coveting any easier to keep in check.
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Colossians 3:5
We utter the words “Women Empowerment” so easily when it comes to us getting together in a physical setting, networking and exchanging ideas. I’ve noticed these values and ideologies are becoming increasingly prevalent in business and there is no shortage of conversation on the importance of women working together. However, we must also learn to take the Sisterhood into the spiritual realm when it comes to supporting one another and solidarity because, underneath all the talk of empowerment, there still seems to be an underlying layer of competition.
Coveting is a powerful and underestimated sin because, unlike most of the Ten Commandments that deal with things we do outwardly, the tenth commandment deals with what we do inwardly and our state of mind. Though it can be a subtle sin, it is a sin that can lead to far worse if not stopped. The truth is, it can cripple us spiritually as individuals and ultimately destroy the development and empowerment of women as a whole. Besides, most of the time when we covet, we are looking at Starr Version 2 who is, in some form, dealing with her own set of troubles while still being present for everyone else that she cares about and to especially be present in the professional realm.
Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15
We are all in this together, code switching as an act of survival. There's no need to compare or compete because we are all dealing with our own life challenges. So, the next time you see another woman and you start to admire her shoes, compliment her then pray for her. Not only does the compliment help you not go into a comparison trap but you never know what the other woman is dealing with so lift her up (spiritually). Complimenting her is equivalent to saying indirectly, “Sis I see you and I feel you. I’m imperfect too!”
Things to remember:
We all have our own set of life challenges. Stop admiring another woman's shoes because you don’t know what it takes to walk in them.
Compliment her then cover her in prayer.
DON’T COMPARE! Be so busy working on you that you can’t covet what another woman has.
There is enough beauty, money, friends, happiness, etc. to go around. You can be beautiful, happy, and successful, so can she, and so can I.
By operating from a place of scarcity (like it is not enough of these things to go around), we’re paralyzing ourselves and placing a limit on God’s resources.
If she wins, it doesn’t mean you lose.
God has a plan for her, you, and me. If I achieve my goals that doesn’t mean that God will miraculously decide to halt the plan He has for you. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that she is behind in achieving hers.
Her elevation doesn’t mean your demotion.
You can have the same gift/talent as someone else and God will still use both of you. You can be great at what you do AND she can be great at it at too.
Create a circle, connect your circle to other circles, and maximize all of those relationships. The goal is to share and collaborate (empowerment), not to compete.
Even if your “Jordans” earn you kudos in both places as you code switch, don't let this world that exalts individual achievement and despises weakness manipulate you into forgetting and sharing your journey you’ve walked in them. We go through life to grow and share the lesson so God can get the glory!
We can't let code-switching and the desire to look good become so entrenched in us that instead of being the sinners we are, we lock ourselves behind a spiritual facade– a prison that keeps us isolated from each other and from God. Release that accepted facade and boldly say #ImImperfectToo!
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16