Comparison is such a tricky, sneaky, divisive tool of the enemy. It’s also essential in many parts and purchases in life. It’s smart to compare prices and research for the smartest choice. But the torment of comparison that we put on ourselves and those we love is in no way beneficial.
I have struggled with comparison as long as I can remember. I was raised by special needs parents and a very strong, controlling grandmother. My family was far from “normal,” and I believed I was less than as a result. My grandmother sacrificed her latter years for my sister and I. She was the greatest woman I will ever know! At the same time, she did put a good degree of comparison on us. Needless to say, we tried - but never really measured up - to the standard she had set.
I found out I was pregnant at 18 with our oldest son, and believe you me, telling my grandmother was brutal. Being pregnant and unmarried was not on her list of high expectations for me. She couldn’t contain her disappointment and really, who could blame her? She had made her life’s goal to try to over-compensate for my parents disabilities. Little did I know that God would use this, her, my young pregnant body to reveal His unconditional love and amazing grace in order to change my life.
When I became a mom 4 times over, comparison was sadly a parenting tool of mine. I really don’t believe most parents do it intentionally. I was working hard as a mom/minister’s wife to try to earn respect and make up for my past. It’s an ugly, sneaky way of thinking that steals your peace, rest and right perspective. I’m sad to say that it took me much longer than I thought to recognize and overcome it. My 2 older children really paid the price for this bondage. Thankfully, they are very wise and full of grace for my mistakes.
Comparison sneaks in a number of ways. When you are a young, new mom and you go to the pediatrician, there is the infamous chart. That chart can become your gauge for failure and success as a mom. With 4 kids, I had all shapes and sizes. I remember the “chart” telling my Tyler that he was too big and Emily that she was way too little. In reality, they were both healthy and right on course.
Social media is another very sneaky, trendy door for comparison. I am so glad social media didn’t exist when my kids were younger, or they would have gotten an even harder dose of comparison. I recently talked to a precious, young momma who was completely stressed out because her 1 year old wasn’t walking. She was tired of seeing all the posts about babies his age doing more than he is, and said “I’ve had it and I’m unfollowing all of these moms.”
I had to make a hard confession a few years back to a long-time friend. In bible study one Thursday morning, the Holy Spirit showed me that I was jealous of her child’s success. I love her and her child and have known them since our kids were 3. I repented under my breath, and He just wasn’t having it. I went to her after bible study and confessed. She was gracious, and I was freed up!
Consider your life and family. Could it be that you even unintentionally have put comparison on them or yourself? Maybe it’s the awards programs at school, sports, potential colleges, who and how many friends they have – but the good news is we can put an end to it and put ourselves and families out of misery.
Comparison gets in full swing just about the time you find yourself unsatisfied, restless and jealous. It’s not exclusive to parenting either. How about your marriage, home, cars, jobs, and even friends? You can even take jealousy/comparison to a whole new level with the online world. How popular people are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - I recently heard you can even buy more followers? What?!
No matter where you and your family are in life, it’s your life not anybody else’s. You are an individual, and you have a chosen identity in Christ. “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Tim 6:6.
We can choose to celebrate with people when they get what we didn’t. More importantly, we can impart confidence and purpose to our children when we aren’t caught up in other people’s purpose. Thankfully, the Father doesn’t compare me to you - or my family to yours. Let’s do ourselves a favor, and do away with comparison.