Comparison is the thief of joy.
Someone smarter than me said that. And it’s true. I’m going to share a very real, raw, and true story that is telling of how just a little, teensy weensy bit of pride and comparison will set you up to trip and fall on your face in poop.
Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18 NLT
Picture it, Christmas, 2012. Okay, the Sunday before Christmas. We wake up to a sick mini diva. Poor thing had diarrhea. Just about nothing worse than your baby being sick: especially a stomach sickness. Especially the day of the BIG Christmas party with her aunts and uncles and grandparents.
I, of course, was convinced it was just too much candy or treats. No one would catch what was surely just the reaction to her eating too many Christmas cookies from the church party. Surely it wouldn’t be a stomach virus. Surely she didn’t catch anything from anyone at the church party. Right?
Yes, you are mother of the year. Now I can’t breathe.
Wrong. I went to church the morning of our family Christmas event since I taught Sunday School and sang on the worship team. While there I learned that two of the children who attended our church’s Christmas party both had the stomach flu. And had it actively on the day of the party. For the record, it wasn’t the mom who brought the kids to the party. She’s not that mom.
I’m that mom. Stick a bar of soap in my mouth because I’m that mom and didn’t even know it.
But I’m not that mom. Not the one who selfishly takes her kids to parties so as not to disappoint them or herself. No way. I’m not that mom who exposes the people she loves most to illness so as not to have to break her baby’s heart. No way. I’m considerate. Right? Because I’m better than that. Right?
Uh.. no “okayest mom of the year” coffee mug for you this year.
Turns out I’m that mom. I’m not as good as I thought I was. But don’t feel too bad for me. I’m not so sure any of us are as good as we think we are.
My boss has been taking over with a lot of the duties at his home as his wife is very pregnant and mainly on bed rest. We were talking on the phone and he told me he just isn’t as good as he thought he was. My response, obviously, was “none of us are.” He told me that was encouraging. I think he was being sarcastic. I wouldn’t blame him for that. But I meant it as an encouragement. Sure, he’s not as good as he thought he was. I can almost guarantee you that he’s better than he thinks he is.
It’s a major award! The words I say are encouraging! If I keep saying it that makes it true, right?
Just like my boss is probably a much better husband, dad, business owner, servant, etc than he thinks he is I think we are all probably better than we think we are. We just don’t see it because we take a little too much time to compare ourselves to others.
I will never be as thoughtful as my friend Manda. Not for lack of trying; more for a lack of gifting in that area. She just has a knack for those things. I will never be as funny as my brother. Because, well, he’s hilarious. I wish you knew him: I still crack up about things he said
decades years ago. I will never be as generous as my friend Z. I will never be as beautiful as Paige. I will never be as insightful as Elaine. I will never be as bold as Natalie. I will never be as anything as anyone. I make a very poor copy; but I do make a great heidiva. (My blog, my rules, I get to pick my own name thankyouverymuch!)
There. It’s perfect.
Maybe I’m not as perfect as I thought I was. Maybe I bring a sick kid to Christmas and make almost EVERY single person there sick; including me, my husband, and my little Larry. Or maybe it was the ham. I blame the ham. I can still hardly stand the look of ham. Anyways. I may not be as great as I thought I was, not as perfect, not as considerate.. But once I stop trying to rank myself against other moms or people in general it turns out I flourish. I may not be as gentle in my mannerisms. Maybe I’m not a helicopter mom. But I certainly make my kids laugh with my humor. I try to be quick to admit my mistakes and ask forgiveness. I let them see the imperfections and strive to allow Jesus to make the most of me.
It’s okay if I look like a pink nightmare. It won’t last forever.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
James 4:8 NLT
One last thought. When I taught the youth at our previous church I had a lesson called “Close to Perfect.” It wasn’t about being perfect or popular or good: it was about getting close to the One who is perfect and good. It was about dropping the facade of having it all together and just getting close to Jesus and allowing him to take the pieces of our lives and make them something beautiful. We don’t have to try so hard and be perfect all by ourselves. We’ve got Jesus to lead us and direct us and correct us. It’s okay to make mistakes: it means you’re living. It’s okay to be corrected: just adjust your steps. It’s okay to not be like anybody else. Just be you. Even if you somehow find yourself being that mom. Turns out my kids and husband and friends like that mom and heidiva.