Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dare to Not Compare

Some people have nice fire pits: we just use the basin from an old washing machine.
        I recently read an article about how social networking is making people miserable. The premise was that people tend to put their best self out there, leaving others to feel they are the only ones experiencing the difficulties of life.  I have found, the more I'm on the internet, the more likely I am to compare my life with someone else's. Of course I know this is pointless and foolish, but the thoughts creep in, and I have to be vigilant to not let the seemingly rosy glow of someone else's life make mine seem dull.

    I noticed this most recently as many home schoolers are happily finishing up lesson plans, posting photos of lovely, organized school rooms, well thought out menu plans, and schedules organized down to the moment. And here I sit, just enjoying summer, thoughts of the upcoming school year surfacing here and there but not taking up too much space.

    This is when the ugly beast of Comparison sends in her twin, Condemnation. Condemnation comes to visit me a lot lately, and I'm trying for the life of me to not to let her in. Condemnation whispers, sometimes shouts at me: "You're not doing enough! You need to try harder! You're kids would be more obedient (happier, kinder) if only you were a better Mom. You suck! Her house is clean and she has twice as many kids as you. They would be better off with someone else. You send your kids to bed with dirty feet: your Mom never would have done that, and she had five kids! You haven't planned out the next school year yet! Dinner is late again?" And so on...

    When I stop and think about these things, I can tell myself the truth. Sometimes I need someone else to tell me the truth, because Condemnation can get pretty noisy. The truth is, that yes, I fail. Sometimes I yell at my kids and get impatient with my husband and my house is a mess and I waste a lot of time and am not prepared for things the way I could be. But the bigger reality is Grace,  Love covering a multitude of my imperfections. And I am me, not some woman from some blog with some other family.

    My life is not yours, and I have no business comparing myself to you. On the other hand, I hope that you don't look at my life and hold it up next to yours. I have tried to write honestly about my struggles, but there are many things I haven't shared. Some hard things, things I hope to find the words to share soon.

    I am slowly learning to walk in compassion, to look into my own heart and not to guess at what is in the heart of someone else. I can look at their well organized home, or their well planned school year, or their well behaved children and admire those things. But I need to remember that what I see of them is only one part of their life, and possibly the best part; they have struggles too, just like I do. It's okay that my school year isn't highly organized. I actually prefer planning one week at a time and adjusting the next week's plans to accommodate anything we didn't get to. (Which is pretty common!) Most of our learning really doesn't fit into a schedule or a plan anyway, and that's what works for our family. Going to bed with dirty feet isn't going to hurt my kids; in fact, they aren't a bit bothered by it! I don't do very well sticking to a strict schedule, but I do need to work on the rhythm of our days.

    This is something that has been on my heart a lot lately. There's a lot of good stuff on the internet, wonderful ideas being shared by the million on blogs and websites. But none of us can do it all; we can only give thanks for what we're given and live in our own moments. I can do some things well, but not all things. I, with four young children, am in a different season of life than the mama who has older ones who can do more to help around the house. The dynamics in my family are created by the individuals that live here, now, with me, and it's going to look a lot different than yours. Each family has unique struggles and joys as well as their own areas of strength and weakness.

    And so I will embrace life, the one given to me! (It is, after all, the only one I've got.) I will try to learn from others without being envious or comparing myself to them. I'll keep reading the blogs of other people who inspire me, keeping in mind that I'm only seeing one little facet of their life. I will give thanks for my children with their different personalities, my husband and all he is, my crazy, messy, sometimes hard, and joy filled life! 


  1. Uh oh. I just finished blogging about our lesson plan. ;)

    Good post, Rebeca. It's so true-- it's easy to compare (I get caught up on the beautiful photography of clean, tidy, well-decorated homes and perfectly-dressed children!)

    I try to take into consideration with each post I read: that's a mom in a different season of life, with "stuff" I don't see, with struggles and burdens and a whole different background or approach.

    What I wonder is how we (as bloggers) can consider this when others read our blogs/statuses? What are your thoughts on that? I try to be honest with our struggles, too- but obviously I mostly blog about what is working- ;) How can we take into account those who may be struggling with the comparison thing without having to add the caveat on the front of every post: "I'm a wreck, too!"

    Blessings to you, dear mother of many!

  2. Anonymous6:19 PM

    it is good to write about all that is positive and encouraging to inspire others, but we also need to bare one another's burdens at times and show some honest reality. I've learned to see that everyone has a struggle somewhere, even when many areas seem to be perfection. It is more about the attitude during the struggle than the perfect day! (I fail here often too, so thankful for grace!) Do what you and your family need and have joy in your journey! Your kids are amazing little gifts and you have a wonderful family (dirty feet and all!) Some people are really happy being very organized and maintaining order and cleanliness... some, well... struggle here, but being relaxed and not stressed is just as important to our health. The rest will come and be at our standards not to be compared with someone else. (it is even hard to teach that concept to our kids... I often say, "in so and so's family they do this or that". Wanting them to strive for better and see that it can be done, but is it making them feel compared? Balance and grace!) Love to you. I always enjoy your honesty and insights! ~Shannon

  3. I love this post! So well written and exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks, Rebeca! I am going to link to your post on my blog, if you don't mind.

  4. Stacy, I think you do a good job of portraying the struggles as well as the good moments. It is a conflict, because I want people to feel encouraged, not dumped on, when they take the time to read my blog. But on the other hand, I want to be honest in sharing the difficult moments as well.

    Shannon, always nice to hear from you! I struggle with what kind of message I'm sending to my kids as well, not wanting them to feel condemned, but on the other hand for all of us to strive for excellence.

    Thanks Michelle! Please feel free to share.

  5. This is something I've tried to do on my blog as well. I realized a long time ago that I was getting depressed reading the beautiful, well-planned blogs. I tried to remind myself that I'm only seeing what people choose to share, not the whole story. Then I decided that I didn't want people to look at my blog and come away discouraged or depressed. I don't share *everything*, but I try to be as realistic as possible.

    With that in mind, I'm giving you my not-so-famous "Keepin' it Real" award!

  6. Here is some truth. I spent most of yesterday suppressing tears. Life is never as perfect as we all try to make it seem.

  7. I LOVE your fire pit!!! Hey, can I interview you for the mom blogger series???

  8. Beautiful post...and great timing that I found it through Matushka Anna's site. I am feeling SO unorganized this week...but like you, I am not really a person to stick to a rigid schedule. I also have 2 young ones, so it is hectic. I think you put it perfectly...I think I need more of a "rhythm" than a schedule. Thanks for your openness and honestly !

  9. Thanks for that. I connected with you through 'Inspired to Action'. I really resonated with what you shared - very akin to some of my own thoughts, and struggles over the past few days.
    Jennifer K

  10. PS. I loved seeing the George MacDonald quote - he's been one of my favourites for many years!

  11. I just reads that slate article; that is a reason I semi stopped using facebook. I had some friends and family do things that weren't nice on there, and I kept comparing myself to others. I hate facebook.

  12. Elizabeth7:24 PM

    Wow. I have never visited your blog before and I'm so glad I did. I can relate to everything you have said here and I also enjoyed reading the links to your other posts. I'm such a comparing mom. I compare myself to others all the time and I even know I'm doing it. It's really sad. I quit facebook long ago because of that very reason. Thank you for your honesty. You inspired me tonight.

  13. Thank you for expressing the reality of honest family living so beautifully. Grace-filled homes ARE so much more essential to our families than some of the prettier, fancier things we see on blogs and websites...

  14. Loved your post, Rebeca, and I really appreciate your honesty and perspective. It is encouraging to know that others struggle with similar feelings of inadequacy. I know I do. I keep wondering when I will have it all together, and need to be reminded to enjoy each day as it comes. Unorganized as they are. :)

    (as my children are in running around behind me in different stages of getting ready for bed while I type on my computer...)

  15. Rebeca, I stumbled across your blog form Leanne's blog. I love this picture we to use an old washing machine basin and it is the best. I grew up using these as our fire pits. I think they are actually pretty nice because they are usually free.


I love hearing from you and try to respond to your comments here on the page.