I can remember the very first blog I ever came across in my parenting journey. Put together mother, beautiful children, clean house, successful blogging career... the list of her positive attributes went on and on and on.
I sat there in my post-pregnancy jeans, a frumpy shirt with spit up stains that had begun to smell, and hair that hadn't been washed in I don't know how long. We won't even discuss how long it had been since I'd shaved my legs or attempted to put makeup on.
In that moment, I knew....I just knew that I was a failure. I had one child, this woman had two. I couldn't find time to shower, she worked out every single morning (before her kids got up!!!). I was hoping to throw something together for dinner, she had her menu planned out for weeks in advance. I sat crying on my couch in a mess of the baby blues, and she managed her family along with a positive attitude.
An ugly little root began to form in me. It was the root of comparison.
I honestly didn't even recognize it at first. I saw this wonderful and godly lady and I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be as put together, kind, generous, and as selfless as I felt her to be. I wanted to do right by my children. I wanted to be successful in my role as a stay at home mother. Those are all good things, right?
Over time this root of comparison started bearing fruit in my life. Not the good fruit that God calls our lives to bear. No, for me it produced the unlovely fruit of bitterness.
I checked her blog daily. And I would attempt the things she did. And then I would get angry with myself when I failed. And fail I did, over and over and over again. That bitter fruit invaded every single aspect of my life. I became paralyzed to do anything because I had fumbled so much already. I began to lose sight of myself, comparing my failures to her successes.
It took the timely words from several good friends and a hard look at God's Word for me to break this particular comparison game. Now on the other side of that particular struggle, I am able to see clearly some things I couldn't see then.
1. We were in totally different seasons of life. Her children were older. She was getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night. I had a newborn daughter and for the first time in my life I was truly experiencing sleep deprivation. And, let me tell you, sleep deprivation is a real and serious thing. (Praying for all of you sweet mamas out there who are up in the night right now.) God began to make clear to me Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Every person is going through their own "time" right now. Some of us are sleeping through the night. Some of us have teenagers who are keeping us up at night. Some of us are working outside of the home full time. Some of us are in the midst of potty training our precious ones. Some of us are waiting for God to open doors so that a little one can enter our families. Some of us are fighting illness. We are all in our own unique season of life. It is impossible for us to fairly compare our lives to someone else's.
2. We are each our own unique individuals. I am not her. I was not meant to be her. She is not me. She was not meant to be me. God has gifted her with certain things that she does well and God has gifted me with my own set of things. I have always loved Psalm 139:13. I spoke it often as my precious little ones were in my own womb. But, for the first time I really thought about it in regard to myself, "For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb" (emphasis mine). It hit me that God created me as an individual. I was not formed on an assembly line. He created me, knit together the things that make me Jen, and did it all in my mother's womb. God lovingly created me. God lovingly created you.
It can be so easy to get caught up in the comparison game. The beautiful, young mother at your church who not only makes a mean breakfast casserole but also takes the time to send encouraging notes to those in need. A dear friend whose children are always behaved and never unruly. The successful blogger who wakes before dawn to have her quiet time with the Lord. Or, it can even have the opposite effect. I can feel prideful that my children have better manners than another person's child. I can rationalize that I am doing a good job as a mother because my children only watch x amount of television per day which is way less than so and so's children. Either way it is ugly. Either way it is destructive.
Comparison is a struggle for me daily. It is so easy for me to want to know where I measure up. Yet, when I engage in this sinful act, I lose sight of God's call and design for my life. I end up placing too high an emphasis on the person I am comparing myself to. Whether I mean to or not, I end up idolizing them.
God created me and only me to be the mother of my children. He knows that I am not a morning person. That although I like order there will always be at least one drawer or closet in my house that will be an absolute mess. He knows that I act silly and sometimes dance my kids until they scream for mercy in the living room. And that's okay! Some of you are awesome at planning parties and playgroups, some of you are natural teachers for your children, some of you don't have a crafting bone in your body but you can put just about anything to song.
We are each beautifully unique.
We are each the exact parent God designed for our children.
Although it is difficult, I am trying to embrace those truths. God is calling me to stop the comparison game. To get comfortable in my own skin and look to His Word instead of someone else's perceived world as I strive to be a better person and parent.
Is comparison a struggle for you? Or, do you have any great wisdom for overcoming the temptation to compare? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. :)
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