I sporadically participate in a competitive world of comparisons.
Note to self: drop out.
This is a plague for moms of every stripe. Especially young moms with young kids (I think anyway, but who knows maybe it infects the moms with older kids too).
It’s as simple as seeing another child do well at something and, instead of rejoicing for them and moving on, we check to see how our child measures up and are either happy or disappointed at the result.
Or perhaps we see the deftness with which another mom disciplines her kids and we immediately begin to think of what we would have done and find that we fall very short.
So, I say it’s time to drop out of the competitive comparison rat race. I’ve only dropped out a ga-zillion times before. But somehow, without realizing it I find myself re-enlisted.
I need to love my kids more by not basing their success on the observation of other individuals who are very different from them in every respect. Instead I should focus on who God has made my children to be and expect growth, not perfection.
The same goes for myself. Concentrate on growth in who God has made me to be. Cling to Jesus’ sufficiency.
And the dirty little secret is that when we base our children’s success or worth on a standard outside the Bible, such as the measure of other children, we are not loving our kids, we are using them to fulfill our own need and desire for happiness in them through their good behavior or achievement. We are observing what we think will bring us happiness in the behavior or achievement of other people’s children and applying it to our own kids.
The Bible tells us our children are valuable because God made them. They are gifts to us.
Plus, the standard of “other people’s children” or the way “other parent’s parent” will never be a high enough standard. We will be selling ourselves short of the biblical mandates that are the BEST for us and come with the power of Christ working in us to help us in our weaknesses!
I will make a disclaimer here, however, that not all comparisons are bad. Only the bad ones are bad. The ones that make you upset with who God has made you and your children to be. The ones that stir up discontentment and produce smugness or condemnation or apathy.
There is a type of comparison that stirs us up to love and good deeds, that inspires, strengthens and convicts. I know this kind of comparison because it happens when we are surrounded by people who want the best for us and our kids and who we experience unconditional love with and for.
This good “comparing,” or observing, models for us Biblical commandment-keeping in action.
It happens when I see the families in our small group lovingly parent their kids towards Christ and obedience and I’m inspired and grow in my love for God and for my kids. Or when I see another mom, humble and lowly, not using her kids to show-off (Lord forgive me for the times I’ve done this), simply nurturing them in the instruction of the Lord.
Comparisons are complicated. If we’re engaged in them in order to make ourselves feel good about ourselves, the opposite will eventually happen; we’ll feel deficient and we’ll see our children as deficient (and if we don’t smugness and ugliness will overtake us). But if we look at what godly brothers and sisters do with an attitude of humility, love and learning, we will learn and grow and love.
So, yep, I’m a drop-out. But just of that bad, competitive kind of comparing. The other kind I’ll keep: it’s valuable stuff!