How many times this week have you compared yourself to another mother and found you come up lacking?
I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I do this after:
- seeing other children following their mother perfectly through the grocery store;
- reading a blog post about the cool crafts or activities another mom has done with her kids;
- hearing from another mom about how her kids are excelling at this or that; or
- learning how much more another mom seems to be able to accomplish.
How may times this week have you judged another mother by some personal standard, just to make yourself feel better?
There is yucky stuff going on in our hearts, isn't there? We're trying to puff ourselves up by being "better" than the next gal. Or we're hoping no one notices just how inadequate we are; praying that somehow our kids turn out okay! Either way, our pride keeps us focused on ourselves.
The place to begin to tackle this problem is with Jesus, at the foot of the cross, confessing the depth of our pride and self-love, the lack of our humility and love for God or others. If we start there, we find hope for transformation, because Jesus forgives our sin, His mercies are new every morning, our shackles are loosed, and freedom to pursue righteousness is found. (For the record, spending time at the foot of the cross is a regular routine for the Christian; daily we need to repent and believe the good news. Our deceitful hearts are kept in check in that place.)
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If you're looking for some ideas on what to ask God to do in your heart to replace the pride, jealousy, self-love, judgmentalism, etc. that can plague you as a mom, allow me to offer three:
Let Go of Who You THINK You Should Be
With the variety of wonderful resources available to us today, we have access to an amazing array of ideas for good parenting, great outings, fun crafts, cozy at-home activities, and so on. But it IS possible to have too much of a good thing. We can start to drown in all of the "I shoulds": I should do this. I should stop doing that. I should start this routine. I should be more like ... . Are you familiar with this paralyzing thought process?
Ask God to help you let go of who you THINK you should be.
That leads into my next thought.
This needs to happen on two levels: your identity in Christ and the unique way that God created you to be you. On the first point, if you are a believer the Bible says that you belong to God, your life is hidden with Christ in Him, He made you, redeemed you, adores you for YOU - without comparing you to others to see how you measure up. I need help to embrace this reality daily. It is reality for the daughter (or son!) of God, all of His amazing grace!
Secondly, God knit you together on purpose and with purpose. You have a unique history, personality, education, and set of gifts & talents. God placed you in a family and gave you (again, on purpose and with purpose) your children. Your family needs you to be YOU for them. Your husband doesn't want you to be Jane from down the street or Donna from down the pew; he proposed to you, [insert your name here.] And your kids don't need you to be Jane or Donna either. How much energy do we waste trying to be something we're not? That's energy we could put into being who we actually are and are growing to be!
Ask God to remind you daily that you are his precious daughter,
created with purpose, intentionally given the family that you have.
Ask Him to help you let go of false ideals of yourself and too embrace who YOU are with joy and gratitude.
This leads to my final thought.
Delight in Who Others Are
Growing security in our identity in Christ and how God created us as an individual, brings us to a place where we can honestly and sincerely delight in others! With our focus removed from trying to measure up and placed on honoring God with and because of what He's given us, we can find joy in hearing of other's accomplishments; we can learn from those we previously viewed as "the competition"; we can have deeper and richer relationships. And (I think this is the coolest thing) the church is edified and grows up more into Christ. We're all different parts of one body, and the body needs all the different parts! Christ is glorified when His people dwell together in unity.
Ask God to forgive you for so often putting yourself before others.
Ask Him to work in you a heart that loves Him and loves your neighbor more each day.
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These are all areas of continuing growth for me. Shaking off my pride and fear requires the strength of the Gospel, the miracle of saving grace. Isn't it beautiful that God then starts to replace our self-love with love for Him and others? As the song goes: What a mighty God we serve!
So, here's a final question, one I've been asking myself over the last few weeks:
What kind of mom are you?
Because of the truth of the Gospel, let go of comparing yourself and be YOU for your children and your family. Please, still read cool articles & books and steal good ideas from other moms (there are so many creative people out there!) But don't try to BE anyone but YOU. Create a culture in your home that is uniquely yours and ENJOY it, even and especially because it's not like another's.