I speak from experience here.
Exactly a year ago today you would have found me in the same position. Trying my best but not feeling nearly adequate. Looking from peer to peer to see all the ways that I did not measure up. It left me in a cold ugly place. I am surrounded by amazing women...both friends and family. At times my meager "stay at home mom" existence seemed puny in comparison.
2011 was a bastard of a winter. It came with cold temperatures and tough lessons. Lots of digging out of decay and ugly from my soul and tilling of ground for new planting. I hated it. But I love it and almost long for it now. I have never felt closer to the Lord than I did last winter. I felt Him. I heard Him. I KNEW He was near. It was a true beautiful mess. I am grateful for it. It left me as a person and a mom better equipped to look up and down and no longer to the left and the right. I left comparison alone and cold in the winter of 2011.
I clung to the verse "First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:5". I got to work removing planks. And trees and twigs and at times, what felt like log cabins. And you know what? If you concentrate on that...you will never have time to inspect anothers speck. You won't have time to look to the left or the right at your peers.
Imagine two identical cars. Two cars that came off of the production line within moments of each other. Identical in every way. Give one to a 75 year old lady who goes to church twice a week and to the market once. Give the other to a 16 year old. Enough said. Two identical cars. Two separate and very different lives they will lead. You would never compare the two cars after five years or ten. You wouldn't expect them to be the same as each other any longer. You can do the same with any two things...dogs, sisters, houses and even twins will live totally different lives from each other. Wouldn't it seem foolish to expect the same results at the end of each life?
Why, oh why, are we drawn to comparison?
I dare say, it is because we are looking in the wrong direction. The left and right direction. The "what's my friend doing that is better than me" direction. Even the "what I am I doing "BETTER" than so and so direction". Each equally damaging. I challenge you to knock it off.
Look down. See your children. Are they happy? Are the joyful? Do they laugh and have fun? Are they energetic and full of imagination? Do others enjoy their company? Are their teachers and peers saying good things about them? Are they learning to love the Lord? Are they full of tenderness and compassion for others? Do they see you and your husband loving the Lord and each other? Focusing on theses things will bring more peace than looking to the right and left will.
Look up. Find your saviors face in your mind. Are you trying to please him? Are you seeking his will for your family? Is he number one or a number on a list? Are you in the word or in the world? Are you praying to him? Are you praying for your family and kids? Would you be happy to recount your actions to him? Does what is in your heart bring him joy? Are you doing what will make him proud or what will make people like you more? Focus on these things to truly find joy in all things.
It's always been my nature to get things done as soon as possible. I would very nearly start the class project in college as soon as I read the syllabus. Come the end of the semester I was done and relaxed while many of my friends were crazed with stress. It never went over well with friends that I was done and they were not. But more often than not, we would both come out with the same grade. I didn't do things better, just DIFFERENTLY. Different is OK. Different does not make others less or more...nor does it make YOU less or more. It's the comparison of the differences that brought and brings conflict and hurt. Comparison steals Joy.
Embrace what makes you different from other mothers. No one has YOUR kids or YOUR husband or YOUR job or YOUR life. It's OK that your kids childhood will be different than your best friends kids or your worst enemies. In the end...
Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Eleanor Roosevelt.
And with that I am praying that YOU will only look up or down to get approval and to get your actions in check. That you find joy in knowing that you are doing the best you can do. Look down at the baby in the manger...helpless yet all the help we need...look up at the God who is preparing a place for you and have Peace this Christmas and all of 2012 and beyond.
Love and Christmas blessings to you friends.
I am thankful for you stopping by and sharing your time and hearts with me. :)