comparing others to someone…better

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago called “the ‘er’ complex“. In it I talk about how we often compare ourselves in efforts to “measure up” to some unattainable, irrational standard of perfection. But I’m realizing, we don’t just compare ourselves. We also compare others — quietly wishing that those around us were…different. Better. Easier.

I did it somewhat naïve-like recently. But it deeply affected my son.

 


flickr photo credit

 

After visiting some family, I mentioned in passing how calm and kind (and fairly quiet) the three brothers were with one another. A somewhat benign, yet slightly envious comment. But do you know what my middle son heard? “I like those boys way better than you so one day I’m going to run away to be their mommy.”

Wow.

He’s been so distressed in his spirit, fearful of my fleeing, that it has affected nearly every situation. For weeks he wouldn’t voice the reasoning behind his fears. But finally, in answer to prayer, he opened up. And it felt like a dagger went through my chest.

Needless to say I’ve been very intentional about making sure he knows that I would never leave him to be another child’s mama. That God put us together and I will always be his — no matter how loud or messy it may get at our dinner table.

But…wow.

Often in the name of “helping” we point out the strengths we see in another in hopes of spurring on some desired behavior in those we love. “Did you know that Jimmy gave his wife flowers for no apparent reason today?” or “Did you see how nicely your friend sat at the dinner table tonight? And that she tried the vegetables without complaining?”

But we’re all just people. All of us. And we’re all on this journey called life. We all come with strengths and weaknesses. We all have good days and bad days. And we’re all in process. We lift others when we focus on and voice their strengths, rather than harp on the things we wish were different about them. (Because a log quite possibly hangs out of our own eye.)

 

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
Ephesians 4:31-5:1

 

God has us in our specific relationships with purpose. We’re moms and daughters and wives and friends to the people He’s placed in our path, on purpose. And often the purpose is our own transformation into holy, love vessels.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How has the comparison pit affected you?

 

  • http://www.brownpaperandstrings.com/ Jamie H

    Thank you for sharing this Lara. It has given me much to think about in the way of my words.

  • http://www.nourished-motherhood.com/blog Keya @ Nourished Motherhood

    You are so right Laura! I try my best to be mindful of not comparing my kids to one another or to other kids. I know how detrimental it is when I compare myself to others and I don’t want them to feel badly about being who they are. The who point to this parenting thing for me is to help my children become precisely who they are as expressions of God. So I don’t want them to be “like” anyone but themselves. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      Thank you for that Keya. It is so tempting to compare, but you are right. He designed each of us purposefully. Blessings!

  • http://ourfamilyforhisglory.blogspot.com Our Family for His Glory

    Lara, Thank-you for sharing this honest reminder! I’m realizing that I need to be careful how I word things even between my own children!
    And thank-you for continuing to allow God to work through you- touching so many in the process!
    Jessica

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      Thanks, Jessica. God is gracious in spite of me.

  • http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com/ Dionna

    Oooh. Very thought provoking and convicting post.

  • http://lifeemerging.wordpress.com/ Robyn Q

    What truth! I know I do this way too often. I don’t mean it to compare. You know, I still hear and hang on to my own mothers comparing words. Some of this is me. guess a love vessel is in the making…slowly! :)

  • Altarofheaven2011

    I just found your blog!! Thank you for your obedience in reviving the hearts of women and stirring us to love and good deeds. Your transparency helps. I just started homeschooling last year and the biggest struggle I have surrendered to God was comparing my children with one another and others. I realize words have a huge impact…that’s why we were given the Word made flesh to help us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Thank you for that reminder!

  • Victoria76

    Oooh, caught myself making the same kind of comment just THIS morning about some children at a nearby campsite that I could NOT hear when the whole campground could hear mine. Even as I pointed it out to my boys, I wanted to grab back the words as they unraveled, but they were already out. More a product of my embarrassment than about them in the first place. How ironic it was that it was the other children’s father that commented to us in passing in regards to the work of camping with little children, “it’s almost not worth the work, is it?” I know my comparing is not only wrong, but so often not even true, just a look through the rose colored glasses that I see other people or other people’s kids through. Thank you for sharing those words and making me more aware.

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