“…When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12
Most women struggle with comparing themselves with other women. The logical conclusion to this empty exercise is the pride/insecurity scenario. If you win the comparison battle, it puffs you up and makes you feel a little better about yourself, at least temporarily. If you lose, you end up feeling badly about yourself, as if you’re lacking something.
Before kids, you might have compared your looks, money, personality, skills, or education. After kids, what I have found is pretty common among moms, is to compare who has it harder. It’s really silly and ridiculous, but when we’re struggling to get everything done and to be a good mom and wife, we look to see what life has dealt our fellow mothers, and see how they’re handling it. We actually justify it by telling ourselves, “if they can do it and they’re in such a harder situation, then I should be able to do it.” As if that will magically give us the strength and peace to complete the task God has put before us.
When I think of the futility of comparing ourselves to others I think of these lyrics by Rich Mullins:
Well, I am a good Midwestern boy
I give an honest day’s work if I can get it
I don’t cheat on my taxes; I don’t cheat on my girl
I’ve got values that would make the White House jealous
Well, I do get a little much over-impressed
‘Til I think of Peter and Paul and the apostles
I don’t stack up too well against them, I guess
But by the standards ’round here I ain’t doing that awful
However, the Bible says that it’s unwise to compare ourselves with ourselves (note it’s not unwise to compare yourself with Jesus). It’s not helpful. It won’t help us grow. In fact, it might even keep us from growing. The truth is that you need to take your eyes off other people, unless you are looking at them with compassion and asking God how He can use you to point them to Jesus. If you want to look at someone in a way that will help you grow, consider this:
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
We are all running the race. We’re redeemed, purchased, made holy by Jesus’ blood. But we’re on a journey. We are going from glory to glory. It’s our journey. It’s different for everyone. Gazing on Jesus will help us get to the next level, not looking at our friend who has three more kids than us, a full-time job, and still manages to look fantastic every day.
Another mistake we make sometimes is looking at others in an easier situation than us and thinking arrogantly, “Oh, come on. I have it so much harder. If I can do it, you can.” I had a friend do that to me, telling me, “the more kids you have, the harder it’s going to get.” She was right, in a sense, because I did have issues in my heart that needed to be dealt with. But telling me this in this way wasn’t helpful. She had more kids than me, so if she could do it, I should be able to! I remembered this when my sister had her first child. I had two kids at the time, my second one having health and developmental issues, and I was working at home part time. I easily could have adapted that same attitude towards her. “C’mon, Laura! If I can do it, you can!” But I remembered. I remembered what it was like with my first child. I also remembered how I felt when another mom did that to me. It’s unwise to compare yourself to someone else. It’s hurtful. Her journey is different. Her kid is different. Unless I actually AM her, I don’t know what she’s feeling or experiencing.
This journey is not about proving anything to ourselves or to others. It’s about becoming more like Jesus, teaching our littles to become more like Jesus, and helping others see him, his love and his ways. The best way we can do that is to have our eyes contemplating God’s glory, not the strengths and inadequacies of others, as opposed to our own. Let’s focus on things that help us and others, and not engage in useless habits that tear us down.