Is comparison making you miss out on great friendships? We have a choice– either to be inspired or feel defeated when we see other’s successes and strengths.
Today I’m sharing again a post I wrote a few years ago. I am so thankful for all the opportunities that God gives to teach us truth, and the privilege of working out those lessons here in words to share with others.
On this particular morning, I was starting a new co-op with my kids. We didn’t know anyone and were just starting our homeschooling journey. The morning helped me to learn a valuable lesson that is still important years later.
None of us are immune from the temptation to compare ourselves to others. I hope this reminder encourages you today, no matter what life season you are in.
When we arrived at the park to visit a new homeschool co-op, the other families had just pulled in as well. I was thankful to see the only other mom I knew there in the parking lot. Seeing her meant my kids and I would not be walking into a new group alone.
The other kids walked together in pairs or groups of three and four, helping their mothers carry bags or waving wooden toys in rhythm with their strides – it was clear that they all had this co-op thing down.
On a picnic table under the grove of trees, a mother was organizing supplies for the day’s craft. Another mother was spreading a large tarp, and a few others were chatting together or reviewing notes before taking turns to teach.
The wooden toys were now being employed in battle by a handful of lively kids. I spotted a few agile climbers up in the trees. Everyone was enjoying the free time before we began.
This is the freedom, beauty and wonder that I wanted to characterize my kids’ childhood. The folk songs with the sweet little movements. The rhythmic poetry. The silly games. The art. The classical music. The hymns. The community.
It seemed like all of this was exactly what I was aiming for.
It also seemed like everyone else was doing a much better job than me.
In the midst of our participation that morning, I was having an internal dialogue with the part of me that kept comparing myself to everyone else.
I should be doing SO. MUCH. MORE.
When can I schedule more nature journaling? Oh, we should totally be memorizing poetry! Why don’t we listen to more classical music? I can’t believe my kids can’t do a proper jumping jack!
Have you ever felt like this?
Maybe it’s not a homeschool co-op, but a playdate or dinner at a friend’s house or someone else’s better behaved kids … more stylish wardrobe … home cooked meals… more successful business… that prompts a similar internal dialogue.
Her Success is Not My Failure
Today more than ever, we have the ability to meet women with strengths of every sort. I’m sure in your handful of friends or social media circle, you know of women who are excellent cooks, or who are always dressed impeccably, or who are so patient with their kids you wonder if there’s a magic pill they’re taking that you’re missing out on.
The opportunities to compare ourselves to others never end.
But, what we do with those opportunities is up to us. We can choose to be inspired or defeated.
We can look at other women’s successes and let them expose all the areas we feel lacking in. We can allow our minds to run wild thinking of all the ways we are “failing”. We can start immediately to figure out what to do in order to be JUST AS GOOD as everyone else.
Or … We can take control of our thoughts and remind ourselves of a few true things.
Remember these three things the next time the comparison thief tries to steal your joy:
1. This motherhood gig is a marathon, not a sprint.
Remembering the marathon mentality is helpful. It takes time to find your groove and implement systems that work. It’s not single days or months that will make or break your kids. It is years of simply loving and investing in them that will make the biggest impact. Day after day, year after year, of sacrificially serving your children and taking advantage of all the small conversations and moments will create a legacy that will last.
If you’re struggling right now, it’s okay. The race is not over.
2. In order to be this woman’s friend, I need to honestly delight in her successes.
A true friend cannot always be comparing herself. Judgment, jealousy and pity follow comparison. If I look at a woman and only see my weaknesses, then what I am not looking at is this woman. Her person. Her worth. I am missing the forest for the trees.
Practice self-forgetfulness and be a good friend.
3. This is an opportunity for good. If I can see it.
When I let myself become defeated, it shuts the door on learning from women whose strengths I admire. Choose to see other women’s strengths for what they are – opportunities for inspiration.
Be thankful that we all have areas in which we excel, then take time to discern what you can learn from and what you should simply appreciate as another’s unique gifts.