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,
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.