Gospel Mag

comparisons, motherhood, emily jensen

This is what happens when I compare myself to other moms...

Emily JensenMotherhood

I'll just go ahead and admit that sometimes (a lot of times) I compare myself to other moms.
Oh, you too?
It makes me squirm to say it because I know it's poisonous, but it seems like a magnet that my mind is continuously drawn to. When I revel in my comparative thoughts, I've noticed that I generally fall into one of two different directions, each with it's own set of lies. Maybe you can relate...

1. The pit of condemnation:

This is the obvious pit. The one where I think, "Oh wow, she really does a good job of staying on top of her child's behavior. I would have let that one slide. Maybe I'm doing discipline wrong. Maybe my child is going to be really messed up because of it. Should I go find my child now and start implementing more strict rules?" The heaviness overtakes me and I feel a little sick. I know I shouldn't question myself because of comparison. If the Lord needs to convict me of my passivity, he can do it though his word and though the loving call of the holy spirit. It doesn't come disguised as deep guilt and constant questioning.

This pit keeps us from becoming the moms we should be. We might notice something that we can improve upon, and instead of running to God and asking what He thinks of such a thing, we just wallow. Our backpack fills with parenting-fail bricks until we feel ugly and defeated. This ultimately leads to bitterness and a lack of joy in our mothering. Our identity isn't being found in Jesus, it's being found in our ability to do motherhood "right".

2. The pit of self-righteouness:

This is the less obvious pit, and the one I catch myself in with alarming frequency. This is the one where I think, "Oh wow, she didn't follow through on that command and discipline her child when they disobeyed. She really should have stepped in and put her foot down. She is just enabling that child and loosing respect. That's not biblical discipline. I'm not going to do that." My nose turns up so high, I can't see anything beneath it. My pride is heaping out insults on others, disguised as head knowledge and right thinking. I think I've found a magical parenting answer for not only my child, but everyone else's. "Besides," I think, "Truth isn't relative."

This pit keeps us trapped in sin and prevents us from loving our sisters and approaching the Lord with deep humility. We might see something that is contrary to the bible, but instead of humbly admitting we are just as flawed and needy, realizing we are not all-knowing, we pat ourselves on the back for having it all together. In a swift moment, we forget that grace is a gift and so is our wisdom. Once again, in our pride we are finding our identity not in Jesus, but in our ability to do motherhood "right".

The roller-coaster of comparison says, "If you are worse than that mom, you should feel bad and if you are better than that mom, you should feel good."

Compare yourself to Jesus

There is only one person's opinion that matters when it comes to my mothering. I try to remember this when I'm teetering on the edge, about to fall onto one side of the road or the other. If I'm about to pat myself on the back, I have to stop and say, "What does Jesus say about my mothering". If I'm about to condemn myself, I have to stop and say, "What does Jesus say about who I am in him." Looking at Jesus is the answer to both wrongs. In our self-righteouness he reminds us that we were so sinful and incapable of doing anything right that he had to die in our place. Suddenly, we are taken down from our high horse and find ourselves saying, "Thank you, Jesus for your grace." In our condemnation, he reminds us that God sees us as fully righteous before the throne. He isn't surprised that we are failing in our motherhood, but he also isn't mad at us. We can have freedom to run to him and say, "Forgive my inability, and give me wisdom to do what is right".

Comparing thoughts will come. They are a temptation that is extremely difficult for any woman to avoid completely. But when they come, instead of entertaining those thoughts, quickly turn them to Jesus and ask Him to tell you the truth. No temptation is foreign to him, and he has the power to overcome all sin.

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