Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dare Not to Compare

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Oh mornings...I AM a morning person but not the kind who get up with zeal to start my day.  It's more like a slow go, most mornings.  I don't get all  my chores and tasks done before noon.  I enjoy the new day, the coffee, and the snuggling with my kiddos!  I have read that successful people get the majority of their work finished in the mornings and that is AMAZING to me.  Really!  It is on the mental list of changes I'd like to see in my life.  Actually, as a mom I know other moms who do this and I'm in awe...but that awe usually turns into comparison and leaves me feeling like I'm not measuring up.  Can you relate to that feeling?  Maybe not with that particular example, but what about something else?

I know I am guilty of comparing myself with others.  I could write a big fat giant list of things.  I know men and women deal with this issue, but women are probably more vocal and have had longer practice at it.  I know for me it started young, like elementary years young.  Not meeting others, or mainly my own expectations, of how I thought I was supposed to look and act or dress or talk or even worship and pray.  Isn't that ridiculous that worship and prayer makes that list!

Then I enter motherhood and it's a whole new ball game.  There's a million ways to measure yourself when you're a mother.  I've compared myself against the best and the worst, in my eyes, and if I can be candid, sometimes I'll feel better than the other mother, but normally I come out lacking.  My guilty comparison is usually the stylish mom who has it all together.  You've seen her.  She's carrying her kids around while wearing sleek tall heels with not a hair out of place.  Nice.  Then I turn that comparison on myself and that is NOT who I am...I've never been that person...I'm more of a "we made it out the house with everyone in clean clothes and I got to shower today kind of person".  But you know what, that super stylish mom with the "all together look" probably got up extra early and more than likely she probably has her own issues she's dealing with.  

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we look at something or someone and immediately bring out the yard stick?  I think that answer could be different for everyone, but I was thinking that comparison probably stems from insecurities in my own self that's rooted in fear.  Fear of things like rejection, failure, loss, what other people might think or say, fear of the unknown, and I'm sure the list could go on.  But as I'm writing this I know this isn't God's best for any of us...there's actually a promise that he has for us that totally releases us from this way of thinking...

2 Timothy 1:7 
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (AMP version)

That verse kicks fear out the door and gives US the power to kick fear out the door.  It's our choice if we actually do it.  We no longer have to live in fear.  That doesn't mean once you give fear the boot it wont sit outside your doorstep and knock and whine to be let in.  Again, we have a choice not to open the door.  Did you notice when the fear leaves that we actually get some things to take it's place...power, love, calm, a well balanced mind, discipline, AND self control!  I'm going to have to remind myself of these things.  WOW!  With all those things consistently operating in my thought life I would never compare myself to others again.  That is freedom for us all!

With that said, this year we picked one word to encompass the changes we wanted to see in our lives.  Ours is Peace. How can I have Peace in my life when I compare myself to others?  J and I were talking before the new year about how that's exactly what we want to see dissolve from our lives.  We have let ourselves compare.  That comparison grows more insecurities and chokes our ability to love each other, our kids, and others because the constant thought of not measuring up or making the mark nags at us in the back of our minds. So to have Peace we can not compare.  This last verse brings it home...

Galations 6:4-5
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. 
(The Message)

This verse for me not only reminds me of my purpose, but gives me permission to not care to compare myself with others.   Then I'm free to turn that switch off and focus on what's most important. Which for me is raising healthy boys, cultivating a happy and loved filled marriage, serving and loving an amazing Creator, and loving others like that Creator loves them! 

Sounds good & easy doesn't it?  Well, it is good, it's really really good! But not always easy.  For me I know that just in the last few days since deciding to make a conscious effort not to compare in any way I've had lots of opportunities to do it.  Have I succeeded?  Not every time.  Am I going to quit?  Absolutely not!  When I have failed I just remind myself of how thankful I am for whatever it is that I'm dealing with.  Just recently, last night actually, when one of the twins was very unfriendly with someone and I felt like my parenting skills were lacking a lot, especially when I compared myself to the other parents around me...I had to mentally stop and thank God for my healthy little boy who is currently growing and learning how to respond kindly to others.  Being grateful can help squash the failure feelings. 

One more thing that might help keep comparison out of our lives, try limiting your social media usage.  We live in a time where people post every thought and feeling, every success and failure.  Dozens of pictures flood Facebook feeds and Twitter all day long.  And if you are committed to not allowing those comparison thoughts in at all...shut down your view of those social sites for a while.  Limit how many times you look  at them during the day.  It will help.  I know in my own life that comparison has tried to sneak in through the "I have a clean house, my kids are perfect angels, and there's a tree that grows money in my backyard"  post.   Going on a social media hiatus for even a short time can't hurt the cause and I promise you won't miss much.

Basically, if I want Peace this year in every area of our lives I can't compare myself with others anymore.  So, will you join me?  I dare you...NOT to compare yourself this year anymore! Listen...what's that sound?  It's the sound of my measuring stick breaking!   Get yours out and snap that thing in two.  I don't think you will regret it...I know I wont!

**Leave a comment!  I love to engage with my readers!**
Photo credit Image courtesy of Sattva FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 comments:

  1. I love that verse! Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing. I have to frequently stop myself from falling into the comparison trap too. It's so hard sometimes! **HUGS**

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  2. Amber,
    I didn't realize you write a blog - and I am so glad to discover this through your sharing this on Facebook today. Not only is yours a timeless, relevant post to mom's/ women of all age, but also it reminds me why I've taken another look at scripture through The Message translation (a version that I I used to pass by but have learned to consider differently). Thank you again, and Happy New Year!

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  3. Thank you Erika & Shauna for your comments!

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