The comparison trap is brutal and so entangling.
And when we get tangled up in this web,
we feel like everyone else has it all together,
we feel like everyone else is a better mom,
we feel like everyone else has been dealt a better hand.
I think the turning point for me was when we were in Uganda. I was in a different season than everyone else I knew. I was pregnant, emotional and feeling "stuck", but interestingly enough, I felt closer to God than ever before. And more confident in who God had made ME than ever before.
Life continued on all around me as we waited. Things were being accomplished that I was not accomplishing. Friends were having fun without me. People were carrying on, life as normal, and we were living anything BUT "normal" lives.
At some point during our time in Uganda I just stopped caring about what my life appeared like to other people. I stopped caring about what other people were doing with their lives. Now, I'm not talking about a kind of depression where I cut myself off from the world, I'm talking about reality setting in. Everything just seemed so clear to me that appearances held no weight.
The things that defined me before were completely out of my grasp. I didn't have a home to keep up with. The choice to be THE wife with the 4-course dinners was non-existent. Homeschool field trips to the museum were substituted with boda rides to the Jinja market and lessons in Ugandan culture.
Now I certainly had my moments, and lots of them, where I longed for my home and for normalcy, but the feelings of envy or jealousy over what appeared to be bigger and better for everyone else just didn't matter. I could feel true joy over others accomplishments without feeling as though I were missing out. It's kind of hard to explain.
But oh how quickly it all comes rushing in when we come back to the land of abundance! To the land of plenty. To the land where the biggest worries we have are determining what to wear the next day. Where petty differences end relationships. Where we constantly worry about what other's are thinking about how we parent our kids, what kind of food we eat or how many extra-curricular activities we can cram in our week.
You've read how we strive to keep that Ugandan mentality and what a battle it is.
Especially in the Christmas season.
In order to combat feelings of comparison or envy or jealousy or self consciousness I have begun to implement 4 main responses that I'm going to attempt to break down for you.
So here's a typical scenario:
I'm a homeschool mom. I may have just downsized my class by half, but I still homeschool. I'm also the mom who chose to put two of her kids in school. PUBLIC school! *gasp* You would be surprised at the comments I've heard from both sides of the spectrum, so you can only imagine the inside chatter that goes on in my head as I try to mentally process the truth.
Four responses to ask yourself when negative inside chatter begins to rear its ugly head.
1) Who cares? I mean really? Who cares, that actually matters anyway? Josh and I have heavily prayed through this issue. We feel released from teaching them at home. We know the Lord will lead us in a different direction if this isn't the right fit. Who cares if we have chosen to homeschool some of our kids? I know there are teacher's out there with excellent educations who could do a great job as well. Besides, who loses sleep over what WE have decided to do about our kids education anyway?
2) Think eternal perspective. In light of eternity, does it really matter where I send my children for education? If I am teaching them God's love and truth at home, praying for them the way I should, and feel as though God has released me from teaching them at home.
3) What is the bottom line? Am I truly worried about my kid's education or about what other people will think about me? Are they going to view me as a bad parent? Do they see a failure if I quit teaching my kids personally to send them off for someone else to teach? Do I feel like a failure? Do people see me as an opinionated parent who is "too good" for the school system?
4) What is the truth? The truth is that I am a child of God, with the Holy Spirit living in me, and when I seek His plan for my life, He will direct my paths. And quiet confidence in who Christ has made me will significantly cut down on a multitude of inside chatter, as well as outside chatter, which always helps:)
I'll probably never be that wife/mom who likes to spend hours in the kitchen, or know every natural vitamin to take for my ailments, or dress in style, or have a home that looks like it should be in a magazine, or enjoy crafting with my kids (have I mentioned that I hate sticky messes and flour-covered floors!), and we won't even begin talking about my kids' appearance, ha, but I am learning to be more comfortable in the skin that God has given me.
|Rainy put Jude in her Wonder Woman costume|
And that, my friends, is the freeing truth!
This post was birthed after beginning to read Todd Wilson's book, Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe. I think it is an excellent read for any wife, mom and/or single person out there! I know it is spoken to homeschool moms, but it gets to the heart of this particular issue of how you think you appear to others.