I spend a lot of time looking at other people's blogs. I come away with some good ideas for my own blog, some awe at other people's talents and, unfortunately, a good bit of envy. I see what other people do, and I think, "Why can't I do that?" I see other bloggers with thousands of Facebook likes and wonder, "Why don't I reach that many people?" There are days when looking at other people's blogs leaves me feeling like a small, insignificant fish in the big ocean of the Internet. I end up feeling this way because I start comparing myself to others. I forget the mission that God called me to and get jealous of someone else's mission. Envy is the death of many a calling. We begin to compare ourselves to others, feel insignificant and give up on what God has called us to do -- just because we don't think we're doing it as well as someone else.
I think women, and especially moms, are prone to this. On a morning when everything goes wrong -- the hairbrush got stuck in the gum in our child's hair, breakfast was a granola bar and an Oreo and we left the house wearing one black sock and one blue one -- is the morning we'll run into a friend who appears to have it all together. Her kids arrive at school in clean, unwrinkled, matching clothes, she looks like she stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine and is even wearing make-up and she had time to stop by Starbucks on the way to dropping her kids off at school early. We leave our encounter with our friend feeling like a failure, thinking "Why can't I be like that?" We've all been to a playdate or the park and looked around at the children playing nicely -- laughing and sharing -- as our child throws his fifth temper tantrum of the day and wondered, "Why can't my kids be more like that?"
Comparison is dangerous. We compare our situation to someone else's without knowing anything about the other person's situation. That perfectly coifed mom up at school might look that way because she's on her way to a funeral. Those happy, sharing kids on the playground may have thrown so many temper tantrums that morning that their moms took them to the park to get a break. All we see is one piece of a situation; we have no idea what's going on behind the scenes.
Learning from other moms can help us in parenting our own kids. We can get some great ideas by watching others parent. We can learn how to deal with different situations and how to be creative in our parenting. When that learning turns into comparing and that comparing into envy is when we get in trouble.
God warns us against envy very early in the Bible. Exodus 20:17 says, "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." You might not want your neighbor's wife, servants or oxen, but you might want another mom's composure, patience or creativity. All envy does is eat up your soul until you feel like a failure. And that's not what God wants for you.
God chose you to be the parent of your children. He put you exactly where you are because He knew that you would be the best parent for your child. He wants us to learn from each other and support each other. He wants us to pray for one another and share the joys and trials of parenting with one another. But He doesn't want us to compare ourselves to each other. He wants envy out of the picture because He knows it destroys our sense of self-worth and our confidence.
When you begin to compare yourself to another parent, stop yourself. Remind yourself of the things you do well. Remind yourself that no one except God can love your kids more than you. When you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and ask God to remind you of what makes you an exceptional parent for your child.
When we stop comparing ourselves to others, we can fulfill our calling to love and guide our children. We can confidently step out on the path that God has laid out for us without trying to find a road that leads to someone else's path. And that's the best way we can parent our kids -- by staying on the road that God has asked us to travel.
Linking up today with Women Living Well.