Why We Can’t Compare Ourselves to Others

by GfG on January 21, 2014 · 6 comments

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“Comparison is the death of joy.”  Mark Twain

I would argue that comparison is the one of the biggest killers of a joyful life, of joyful parenting and of joyful homeschooling.

Women and especially mothers are notorious for playing the comparison game.  Homeschooling moms are pros.  And it’s deadly.

Comparing to the family in the next pew or on the cover of the homeschooling magazine.  Comparing to the National Merit Finalist’s family or the ones all in the orchestra.  Even comparing to a good friend who seems to be knocking it out of the park.

The problem with comparing is that it isn’t accurate, but pretends to be.

We really can not know what any family is truly like, except our own.  We can’t know the personalities, the history, the baggage, the dynamics… the unique make up of a family.  Even if we are good friends, spend lots of time together, or have lots of commonalities.   Yet the comparison monster convinces us that we can know.   And we can and should duplicate.

As parents, we must remember that there is no set mold for a family. Or a homeschool.

And that means there is not set plan.  Seriously.

I wonder if that is one of the reasons the Bible contains no specifics details on how to parent.  Yes, God in his loving way, has provided a basic mindset, philosophy, and guide, but He didn’t give a clear cut check list for the mom of a baby, then a toddler, then a preschooler.  For homeschooling a first and third grader, then adding two more, and on.  Nope.

He is the author of the family.  Our family. Your family.

Families, in my opinion, are like fingerprints.  There are no two exactly alike, discernible as specifically unique, even if, at first glance, one can look tremendously like another.  Even if there are basic make ups of a fingerprint.

There aren’t duplicates.

So they shouldn’t try to duplicate.

When we start making decisions about what to do, how to do it, and why to do it based on comparison to another family, we run the risk of either establishing an idol or destroying a gift from the Lord (our family).

We simply can not line up our family next to another- even if the parents are the same age, even if we have the same number of children at the same ages, even if we go to the same church, even if- and get out the measuring stick.

comparison WEB

The combination in our marriage is different.  The life experiences and personalities are incredibly one of a kind.

The combination of personalities of our children is unique.  They are each fearfully and wonderfully made as individuals, not parts of a repeating or duplicating pattern.

So…. when we start comparing the success or failure of our family against another family, we bring death. Either to our own family, or to someone else’s.  The same holds true for a homeschool.

I get sad when I hear a homeschooling mom (I don’t chat much with homeschool dads about this stuff) comparing her family to another.  Oh, they don’t usually come right out and say it, but it’s in the way they talk about how their family is doing and the success of another.  It’s in their tone and it’s on their faces.

There is a simple cure for this joy stealing: stop it.  Just stop it.

Oh, if it were only that simple, right?  Technically it is, but in the heart and mind just don’t work that way.

To stop comparing, we have to be convinced.  

How can we be convinced to kill the joy killing comparison monster?

  • We must believe that our family is a unique combination that shouldn’t mimic another.
  • We must believe that God has a purpose for our specific family.
  • We must believe that the Bible does not give detailed checklists that all families must do, but instead He provides guidelines in grace and truth.
  • We must believe that He has created our family with giftings, leanings, and situations that are gifts, not curses.
  • We must seek His plan for our family, not look to other families for the plan.
  • We must remember that the needs of our family are not static, but change as the family does.

Above all… we must remember that the only God honoring place to compare our family to is Him.  All other places fall short and aren’t ordained by Him.

Seriously.

Do I mean we can’t learn from other families? Of course not.  God honoring families are beautiful testimonies and we can certainly glean advice and wisdom from them. We just can’t put them on a pedestal for copying.  Only Christ belongs on that pedestal.  It is He we want to copy.

He doesn’t kill joy; He brings it.

His yoke is not heavy; It is light.

He doesn’t make patterns in people; He makes unique creations.

Moms, homeschooling or not, walk away from the comparison monster.  Don’t allow him to destroy your joy.

Instead, run to the Savior.  Cast your cares on Him and seek His way.  Allow him to bring you joy.

Be convinced that God created, guides, and desires to be uniquely glorified in your family.

Give yourself grace to parent your family as God leads, not as another mama does it.  Or homeschooler does it.  Walk in His truth with the freedom to be the beautiful unique creation you and your family are.

How do you battle the comparison monster? 

Linking to Teach Me Tuesday!   and Mama Moments Monday

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tiffany January 21, 2014 at 7:05 am

This is big. I have struggled with comparing my life to others for a long time. Then a few years ago I had a major break through. You have to guard your heart against such struggles. It may sound strange but I don’t get into conversations that will leave me comparing myself with others. God placed me in my family because they need my particular gifts and abilities. If my gifts and abilities were needed down the street then that’s where The Most High would have placed me. And likewise I need each member of my family. In other areas where I have struggled with this matter I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have. Stop looking at what someone else has. This is a great post. Whenever I find myself falling into the comparison trap I remember lessons learned and quickly alter my thought pattern.

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Rachael @ Mommy LCSW January 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm

This is wonderful! I have often said there is not just one way to parent, but I had never thought of that as being the reason there are not step-by-step instructions in the bible. What a wonderful thought! Thanks so much for posting! I am new to Mama Moments Mondays, and I am so glad I stopped by!

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Missy Rodriguez January 21, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Yes! Thank you!
This needs to be said again and again (especially to us homeschooling mamas)! There is so much freedom, that is ready for the taking, when we stop buying the LIE of comparison. Run the race… Look only to the Savior.
Thank you for this encouragement :)
Missy

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Blair January 21, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I think it is worth saying too that we shouldn’t compare ourselves not only in a negative way but in a superior way. I know that I have personally been guilty of this sin and boy was the Lord quick to humble me. When I first began homeschooling I made fun of (with a friend) of “unschoolers”. I thought it was ridiculous. I sure changed my tune when it turned out that that was the way that my children learned best and that suited our family best. Two verses came to mind when reading this post.
1.) God gives his grace to the humble but resists the proud. (Found in both James and Proverbs… I think*)
2.) Galations 6:4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

Thanks for this reminder!

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GfG January 21, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Oh, yes! So incredibly true, Blair.

Thank you for your input!

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Jennifer January 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm

This is wonderful advice. It’s definitely one of those “easier said than done” deals, but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. God made all of us unique, and each of us have our own special talents and qualities. No one is better than anyone else, regardless of what society tells us. But, I am definitely guilty of feeling inferior, and wishing I was more like various people. It’s an ongoing struggle.

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