It is not uncommon for women to compare themselves with one another. We’ve been doing it for centuries. We watch and observe the mothering of our peers to their children, what careers others have or choose not to have. We compare our education, families, the amount of children we have, our bodies and attributes. There are very few topics I’ve not discussed in conversation with other women that we have not analyzed about each other and compared.
However, comparing ourselves to each other can lead down two different roads, both can be destructive. Both I have chosen to walk. On the one hand we can grow prideful, thinking our way of doing things is better than another. Or, we can become weary seeing all that others can be or accomplish and lose hope in ourselves, in who God made us to be as unique individuals. I for one get caught in this trap more often than I would like to. I picture in my mind things I’d like to do, traits of my personality that I wish were different, and I become discouraged when I see those around me flourishing and overcoming, being, doing, multitasking and conquering all that is in front of them with grace and ease. It is at that moment I want to crawl under a rock. My insecurities rise up and the enemy of my soul begins the onslaught of negative verbiage in my head. In two minutes I am reduced to nothing. My mistakes in motherhood are thrown in my face and my unfinished education thrown under a bus. With my head in my hands I think, “how did I get here again?”
Most of the time these moments occur when I’m feeling most vulnerable naturally. I could be overtired, stressed or overwhelmed with life. Sometimes though it happens innocently, like when I’m reading what is supposed to be an uplifting, inspiring article about a mother of 10 or more kids who joyfully loves her children, never yelling mind you, while she cooks all her meals from scratch, organically grown from her home garden that she managed to plant before her 10th child was born at home with a midwife and no epidural and wrapped in a homemade blanket! No offense to this women wherever she may be, God bless her- she’s amazing, but please see where I’m going with this. If I’m not in the place I need to be with the Lord, if I’m not careful, what was meant to be inspiring and encouraging has now become condemnation. I will never be that woman. And it surely isn’t from lack of trying. I’ve ran circles around myself trying to be the best mom, the best wife, cook, homemaker, etc. It’s just not me to multitask five things at once or even three things at once. I get distracted and something always ends up burning, like garlic bread. God blessed us with three kids and for me it is a challenge. Yet I know so many who can have kids while earning their degree and be relaxed and patient and keep up with their homes, work and hubby and smile too! But it’s just not me.
It is here in the reading and watching everyone else that my limitations stare back at me. Once again I’m faced with who I am. And it is also here that I must make a choice. I can feel sorry for myself and crawl under a rock, or I can go to the ROCK, the One who made me, and who knows all about me. The first 10 years of my marriage I chose to crawl under the rock, feel sorry for myself, cry and become overwhelmed with self pity and depression and I would stay there for long periods of time. But since my diagnosis (Anxiety disorder/ OCD) I’ve had to come to grips with myself. Over and over again I’m faced with what I see as shortcomings and failures, and I have to go to the Rock, the Cornerstone, my Savior.
At first I go, honestly telling Him my woes, asking Him why did He make me like this? Why am I not as capable as others? Why do my kids have me for their mother, wouldn’t they benefit better from someone else? Why? Why? Why? But if I truly want His answer I don’t stay there in pity for very long. I quiet down and start to listen as He asks me the questions…
My daughter, my precious child. I made you. I created you in your mother’s womb. I fashioned every fiber of you, all your cells, and DNA, your likes and dislikes, your capabilities, your desires, your limits. It was Me who did it. Why do you not see who I see? Why can’t you see the beauty in you? If you knew how much I love you, if you knew that no matter what you do or do not do, or accomplish as a wife, mother and person does not change my love for you. It does not change the way I see you when you fall or fail. My love for you is not based on your performance. You are my creation, the work of my hand. You only see yourself in part, but I see the whole you. Trust me to fill in the gaps of inadequacy. Trust me to fill you with joy when you are weary with motherhood. Trust me to make your path straight for your future. Trust me beautiful child. I know the way because I AM the way. Take my hand and let me lead you.
And so there I sit, completely humbled once again by my loving Father. He reminds me that I am His and that any and all imperfections in me He is fully aware of yet does not regard me for my weaknesses or triumphs, but simply wants me to love Him and know His love for me.
As I read in my devotional this morning I was blessed by the words of George S. Merriam:
“If the people about you are carrying on their business or their benevolence at a pace which drains the life out of you, resolutely take a slower pace; be called a laggard, make less money, accomplish less work than they, but be what you were meant to be and can be. You have your natural limit of power as much as an engine,–ten-horse power, twenty, or a hundred. You are fit to do certain kinds of work, and you need a certain kind and amount of fuel and a certain kind of handling.”
This mama may not even have one-horse power, but I have the power to stop and listen, to choose not to compare myself to anyone else. I can choose to rely on the gracious Holy Spirit as I walk through life. I have the power to believe that He is who He says He is and choose to live by His supernatural power to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish for His glory.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9