Comparing Up or Down

We watched the movie Courageous over the weekend – talk about a good movie. One of the lead characters said (about parenting), “I always thought I was doing good enough because I was doing better than my dad.”

I’ve mulled over that statement and wondered how often I compare how I’m doing something to how someone else is doing it, instead of to the standard God calls me to do it.

Sometimes comparison sneaks up on us. Sometimes we find ourselves comparing our actions and appearances against someone else’s because of something that’s been said or done to us. Like when a good friend says we should do something “like she does” or when one walks through an affair. Sometimes we chose comparison to measure that we are doing something better than ….

Whether we are struggling with comparison because we want to be good enough, or we are using comparison to justify that we are good enough, it’s a deadly trap. It pits us against people. It makes us think we are so much worse than we really are, or so much better than we really are.

I want to weigh my actions and words and appearance against the standard God set for me. All through His Word we can find how to live, how to regard beauty, how to love others. Worldly comparison inhibits our ability to love others and live the way God wants us to.

Unfortunately, we will find that we fall short of God’s standard oftentimes. This is where He can draw us in and show us His grace. This is where He can take our deep brokenness and show us His immeasurable peace and deep comfort. This is where He can mold us and make us who He calls us to be.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please help stop the comparisons that run through my mind. Align my thoughts with You, with Your Word. Help me to focus on who You are calling me to be, and what You are calling me to do. Let me leave others to their calling. Comparison is the thief of all joy, and Lord, I want Your joy in my life. Remove this thief, convict me when I start trying to make comparisons, and help me live my life to please You.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Turning Negative Thoughts Around

I am really hard on myself usually, and as I’ve read some home school blogs, as well as some FB status updates, I feel like I am doing something wrong – my kids aren’t as advanced as this kid, or that kid. Isn’t the point of this hard work and homeschooling so our kids can take their SAT/ACT’s before they’ve completed the second grade?! We are the advanced, élite, ahead of the game group. I mean, aren’t we trying to produce the next generation of geniuses and academic stars?? So now the faith element to homeschooling is taking second place to the academic race.

Then, the still small voice reminded me that we are doing great – learning about Creation, studying the Bible during school, and learning to start our days praising God. We are learning to pray more regularly, about so many topics – it truly is amazing to watch my children grow. So, I am taking those negative thoughts, and building something constructive. Faith, and teaching my kids about God from an early age, is the number one reason I am homeschooling. I want the boys to include the Lord in their life, EVERY day, ALL day – not just “after school” or on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.

As for a practical step that I realized I could work in – opportunity! I have limited some of the reading and writing opportunities, as well as a few others, and I am working on challenging myself, slowing the day down, and encouraging my kids to explore new opportunities to learn, and to show me what they already know. We aren’t behind, my oldest did a fantastic job on his placement tests this year, and my youngest is working hard to keep up with his Bubba!

Don’t let negative thoughts beat you up. Don’t let comparisons drag you down. Give them to God – pray and ask Him to show you the truth. If the situation is something that you can learn/grow from, and use practical steps to broaden your horizons, that is a huge blessing, but still don’t let negativity run your life!

How do you handle negative thoughts and the comparisons between yourself and others?

Fitting In

Do you ever go somewhere, and run into someone you really admire, and wish for a moment you fit in with them?

This happens to me all the time. Most frequently, it happens at church. I try to remind myself we are all human, all sinners, sometimes I think about us all having dishes, or laundry to do. Yet, somehow these other women possess something I don’t have. I can’t identify it. I don’t have a name for it, but every time I see them, I see ‘it’ and I want ‘it’. I long to fit in with them. To feel like my routine, my parenting style, my homeschooling methods, and my home are good enough. Above all of my things, I want to feel like I fit in.

So what is ‘it’? I’m asking again tonight, after considering a series of these encounters. I walk away feeling like so much less than good enough and my heart hurts. And I want to hide, and not go back to the places where these people will see me. So, started asking myself if it’s something they are saying to me. No, I don’t think so. Is it something someone else told me they say about me? Nope, not that either.

Then I realized what it is, it is an attack from the very enemy of God, trying to severe me from the body of believers; trying desperately to cripple my relationships so that I can no longer be a helping hand, a lamp for the Lord. If I am crippled by this paralyzing sense that I don’t measure up, then I cannot team up with the ladies in my church to serve the community, and I cannot have lengthy conversations and lasting friendships with the people around me.

Realizing this is no miracle cure, let me tell you. I’m not sitting here thinking all of a sudden that I am an equal – I have many negative go-to scripts that play in my head, telling me that so & so bakes better than I, so & so does better crafts with her kids than I, so & so keeps up with the laundry, and absolutely none of them have a cupcake smashed across the carpet tonight – that’s just me, and instead of cleaning it up, I’m blogging.

But you know what? I’m going to get my vacuum and clean up that cupcake, and I’m going start fighting back. Every time I hear one of those sneaky thoughts that I don’t measure up, I am going to use it as a prompt to pray. I’m going to pray that God would help me remember the identity He gave me in Christ. I’m going to tell Satan to go away, and I’m going to remember that my boys aren’t the only cupcake smashers – they can’t be!

Do you struggle with fitting in? How do you over come such a lofty battle?