The tomb is empty, death is overcome, our Savior is Risen and sitting at the right hand of God! Hallelujah! Happy Resurrection Day! I hope you and your family's have a wonderful day of celebrating and rejoicing in Our Risen Savior!
Do you ever scroll through your Facebook feed and suddenly start to compare yourself with others? Maybe you really want to go on a vacation and all of the sudden it feels like everyone you know is vacationing? Or being a mom has been a real struggle for you this past week, month, season, and it seems like all your “mom friends” seem to be doing this mom thing so much better? I have.
I don't compare myself with others every time I get on Facebook. Nor am I upset at the person I am sadly comparing myself to when I do. I am glad for them. We all like to share our "best moments" don't we?
But when we are not the one posting the "best moments" unhealthy thoughts of comparison can sometimes creep in rather quickly. Not consciously or intentionally—it just happens. We see people doing other things and we feel like we are some how missing out or perhaps doing something wrong. This doesn't just happen on Facebook though. We are at risk of comparing ourselves with anyone, anytime and anywhere.
We are not meant to be comparing ourselves to each other. Being content with our lives is not really a matter of circumstances, it is a matter of perspective. How we view our lives and recognizing the importance our story plays in God’s big picture of life is critical to stopping the comparison trap and living our live's well.
It is so easy to point out things that we see as “wrong” in our lives or to list off things we “wish were better”. But if we focus on these things we will live in a constant state of discouragement and discontent. There will always be people who seem to “have it all” or who seems like their lives are “perfect”. Might I remind you that we usually only see each other’s “front stage” as Michael Hyatt calls it, and are unaware of what goes on in everyone’s life “back stage”.
I obviously believe it is good to look to others for knowledge, ideas, and encouragement, but it is destructive to envy their lives, their talents and skills, accomplishments and interests. Each one of us is special to God. He has a plan for each of us. God is so creative and He gave us all unique talents, skills, and interests. If we spend our time and energy always looking at what others are doing, envying them, and comparing ourselves to them, we will waste precious time and deny ourselves, our family, and the world, the gifts and talents we have to offer.
It does us absolutely no good to sit around having a pity party saying, “If only X, then Y”. “If only my children were more calm like so & so’s children, then I would be less frazzled”. “If only I had more patience like so & so, then I wouldn’t get so upset with my children when they disobeyed.” Or “If I had the curriculum the moms I met last week have, my children would be enjoying their studies more and I would be a better mom.” All these comparative thoughts only bring the one who thinks them down.
Comparative thoughts like these are not productive or accurate. We are not comparing apples to apples. These comparative thoughts are rooted in false assumptions—the false assumption that the person we are comparing ourselves to can live our life story out better than we can. So often I feel inadequate as a mother, but I have to remember that the Creator of the Universe also created me and He specifically designed me to be the mother of my children—it is no accident.
I am reading a book by a local Pastor about our culture’s obsession with being busy. The book is titled Addicted to Busy: Recovery for the Rushed Soul. In the final section of the book, the author (Brady Boyd) discusses things he wished he wouldn’t have had to learn the hard way. One of his examples says he learned “the best thing I can do for my congregation is to quit comparing myself to other pastors and simply strive to be genuinely me.” I love this! There is great wisdom in this statement and I think we can apply this to any area of our lives, especially motherhood for us mamas.
I think we can find ourselves stuck in a comparison rut. We obsess over what others moms are doing or what they are good at and it’s as if we feel we are in competition with other moms for some ridiculous reason. I want to encourage you—we all struggle and we all keep our front stage a lot more neat and tidy than our backstage.
God made you just the way you are on purpose. And whatever your story is, it is one that needs to be lived out by you and only you. You are the only one capable of fulfilling the life God has designed for you.
If the tendency to compare yourself with other moms, or just women in general, creeps up a lot in your life try shifting your focus to God and to the unique talents, skills and interests He gave you. Remind yourself that God specifically made you the mother of your children and it is no accident. The best thing you can do for yourself, for your family, and for the world is to be you—to be genuinely who God designed you to be and to live out your story well.
Here is how Sally Clarkson puts it in her book Own Your Life, "each of us has been offered a part in the drama of mankind--God's mega-story, the way Christ is redeeming all things to Himself. Yet to play our part in the overarching narrative, we must understand the role we have been uniquely created to perform. We've been given distinct personalities, circumstances, capacities, and potential to invest and from which to craft a life of excellence."
If you are looking for a book to help "spark" your desire to play your part well, I highly recommend Sally Clarkson's book Own Your Life. (Click to purchase it on Amazon.com)
Practical app: Take some time in the next few days and spend time in prayer asking God to reveal what talents, skills, and interests He has given you. Also, ask God to reveal to you situations where you feel the tendency to compare yourself to others.
If you found this helpful, feel free to share with others. Thank you so much!
Grace be to you,
Being a Stay-At-Home mama who lives in a rural part of Colorado that gets its fair share of snow in the winter gives me a great excuse many days for me and the kiddos to not venture from our home. This has given me the opportunity to begin our ‘Declutter Crusade’. I literally started by organizing the junk drawer in our kitchen. It was about a 30 minute project. A triumphant baby step in the war I am waging against clutter.
I then began looking around our house and discovering items that were tucked away under beds, in closets, in piles, collecting dust and haven’t been used or admired in a long time. I realized my family and I had a lot of clutter! A lot of ‘stuff’ we didn’t need that needed a new home. I have made a decision that if no one in our home has used an item or admired it in at least 3 months it is time for it to go. Family heirlooms and pictures, seasonal usable items and craft/school supplies not included.
Smart phones are pretty darn cool, aren’t they? With the press of a finger I can take a picture of an item I want to sell and in a matter of a minute or two have the picture posted on Facebook with a description of the item and a price. Within a few hours of posting my first round of 'stuff' I had several items posted and lots of mamas in line to buy these items. It was so empowering and refreshing to find new homes for some of our ‘stuff’ and a little extra cash to boot.
The type of items I sold was all over the map, from a pair of nice curtains we no longer wanted/needed, to a pair of Steve Madden red patent leather heels worn once almost 9 years ago! For some reason, every time I saw those beautiful pair of heels I thought to myself, "Someday I will wear them again." After 9 years of living in that shoebox, the odds of those beautiful red heels on my feet again was looking pretty slim.
Decluttering and simplifying feels so good. It is something we should do on a regular basis.
Just like decluttering our homes, God wants us to declutter our hearts. As human beings, we are prone to sin, prone to give into fleshly desires and attitudes, which ultimately clutter our hearts and push out the love of Jesus.
In the same way we declutter and clean out our homes, as Christian women, it is vital that we declutter and clean out our hearts. By seeking God and digging deep into our hearts, we can find the sin we need to deal with and get it out of our lives.
When we repent of our sins, we acknowledge our sin and ask God for forgiveness. And when we ask forgiveness, we can be sure God will forgive us.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 NKJV
Just like decluttering our home refreshes the environment around us, decluttering our hearts will transform our mind to a new way of thinking and acting. We can ‘redecorate’ our hearts with God’s word so that it is always at the forefront of our minds. Just as the psalmist says, ‘I have hidden your word in my heart, so I may not sin against you.’ Psalm 119:11
The world we live in is full of sin and evil and the spirit of this world, Satan, wants to grab hold of us and he will do anything he can to succeed. When our hearts are cluttered with sin, we cannot be the light God calls us to be. And when our hearts are not filled with God’s word, we can easily succumb to sin. God’s word is truth and when truth is not written on our hearts, our minds are vulnerable to believing lies from this world.
Decluttering our homes and our hearts is a continual process. A continual process well worth the time and effort.
Hello friends! In my last post I talked about two different types of guilt: real and false and how I have been living with false guilt for a long time. I also highlighted a wonderful 4-part series from Focus on the Family about Living without Constant Guilt.
Today, I want to dive a little deeper into this topic. I want to start peeling back some of the layers so real healing can occur.
Imagine this scenario…
“Johnny, how was school today?”
“It was good mom! I got a 95 on my math test!” Johnny replies excitedly.
“Oh Johnny that’s very good. But, why didn’t you get a 100?” His mother responds with a slight frown on her face. “Maybe you can try better next time.”
Johnny nods and hangs his head in shame as he heads down to his room.
Johnny is unsure of what to think of himself. Why didn’t he get a 100? He studied really hard and did his best. He must not be good enough. And now his mom is disappointed with him, so he feels even worse about himself. Johnny’s stomach begins to ache and tears begin to well in his eyes.
This of course isn’t the first time this scenario has been played out. This response from his parents is all too common for Johnny.
Johnny’s mother loves him and is honestly doing what she thinks is best; she just wants “the Best” for Johnny. She wants Johnny to have a better life than she did…but in her attempts to GIVE him “the Best”, she is pushing him to BE “the Best” and connecting it with how she feels and acts toward him.
What is happening to Johnny?!?
Johnny is being taught that perfection is the standard; and unless he is perfect, his mother, and the rest of the world, will be disappointed. And although unintentional, his mother has imposed false guilt on Johnny for not meeting her expectations…in turn, Johnny feels really bad about himself and his conscience receives a heavy dose of false guilt each time. This kind of love and training is neither authentic acceptance nor authentic love.
When false guilt is used as a means to encourage, punish, or simply control a child’s behavior it will breed a hyperactive conscience. A hyperactive conscience is expecting what you do or say to not be good enough; second guessing everything you do; and figuring everyone is just waiting for you to “mess up”.
A hyperactive conscience is not a healthy conscience. A person with a hyperactive conscience believes their performance is connected to their self worth. And as an adult, the inner child who just wants to be accepted and loved and who never wants to feel the pain of disappointing others will become a perfectionist and a people pleaser.
Living under an expectation of perfection focuses our eyes and others eyes on to ourselves. It causes us to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live a “perfect” life so we can be accepted and not criticized. But a “perfect” life is unattainable.
I have been living like this for a very long time, and have suffered much heartache and restless hours because of it. Being perfect and pleasing everyone is impossible and trying to do so is exhausting! Life is not meant to be lived like this. But I do not have to live like this any longer—and if you are living like this, neither do you.
Healing from living like this does not happen over night, but I believe it is possible. First we must recognize this pattern of life for what it is, a lie and start with truth.
The truth is that in Jesus we ARE good enough.
When we accept Jesus into our hearts He does something amazing to us. We look different to God. In Colossians, Paul says, “And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight.” Col. 1:21-22 NKJV (emphasis added)
Did you catch that?!? We are reconciled to God through the death of Jesus and we are considered holy, blameless and irreproachable in God’s eyes! We are sacred, innocent of wrongdoing, and beyond criticism. We are faultless through Christ. Hallelujah and thank you, Jesus! We don’t need to live in bondage to perfectionism, nor should we. God sees us as perfect through Jesus. How freeing is that?!? Very freeing indeed!
This doesn’t mean sinning is acceptable though. Paul goes on to say “—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Col. 1:23 NKJV
So having Jesus in our hearts does not mean it is acceptable to sin, but it does mean we are set free from trying to earn acceptance and love. We are called to live like Jesus lived, but how God sees us is not based on our works. We do not have to “be” perfect in order for God to love us and accept us, we “are” perfect in Christ Jesus.
By understanding who we are in Christ we can break free from the chains of perfectionism and a hyperactive conscience. Instead of focusing on things we can’t change or on our human limitations, we can focus on who we are in Christ and live the life God wants us to live! God wants us to enjoy this precious life He has given us. I will say it again…with Jesus you are holy, you are blameless, you are faultless—you are accepted and you are loved.
*Photos used are from www.unsplash.com
Do you struggle with perfectionism or the need to please people? If so, how does hearing the truth from Colossians 1:21&22 change your perspective? How does it make you feel? I would love to hear from you!
Hi! My name is Mandy Jo.
Thanks for visiting my blog! Being a mom in this modern age is a blessing, but no cake walk. So many expectations are imposed on us and it can be overwhelming and often discouraging.