Parents, STOP Comparing!

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Parents, STOP Comparing!

It seems lately I’m seeing a high number of articles describing the challenges of the different ways we choose to live our lives…or ways we have to live our lives.  I used to understand this – the need to justify and convince others of the value of what we’re doing or the choices we’ve made.  In fact, until very recently I felt that need acutely. And, if I’m totally honest, I still feel it to some degree or I wouldn’t be writing about it.  I guess. I’ve been blessed to hold many positions within my motherhood field.  I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, a foster mom, an adoptive mom, a homeschooling mom, a working mom, and a single mom. Many of those at the same time.  I’ve raised toddlers and teenagers simlutaneously…there are striking similarities between the two by the way!  I don’t believe I can definitively say one season has been easier than another. Certainly NOT the one I’m in now. But I can say that they’ve each had their challenges. I’ve prayed and am still praying about this post. I’m scared to offend. But I’ve such a profound sense that this comparison and pointing out the challenges we each face and the difficulties we each have in our seasons in order to be valued can’t be how God designed it. I know how difficult staying at home can be.  And I know how difficult going to work can be.  I know how difficult homeschooling can be.  And I know how difficult dropping your children off at school can be.  I know how difficult being married can be.  And I know how difficult being a single parent can be. I know….truly. And none of us, no matter what place we find ourselves is more or less valuable than anyone else.  I believe it only makes us feel less valuable, less understood, and less supportive of each other to make comparisons. I know when I read some of those articles I feel a little put out.  I want to respond.  Usually though someone has already commented with what I would have said, but thankfully didn’t. It’s so easy to build walls. It’s so easy to put each other in little boxes. It’s so easy to compare. I will tell you that whatever season we find ourselves in is the hardest season at that time.  And we might find extenuating circumstances which make a season more ridiculously hard than most, but generally speaking we all feel overwhelmed. No matter what season I’ve been in, I’ve been overwhelmed, tired, and longing for relief. When my first born was a newborn, he was hospitalized for 10 days.  Devastating. When my children were babies, they all nursed/ate every 2 hours which meant I nursed/fed constantly.  I remember crying at the dinner table because I just wanted to eat my meal without a baby attached to me. When my children were toddlers, I was always looking for a moment of peace.  And it felt that just as one got out of toddlerhood another was entering it. When I homeschooled my children, August would come around and the weight of the responsibility of educating my children would land heavy on my shoulders. When I become a foster mom, the sheer number of children under my care was daunting. When I became a single mom, the sorrow and fear of parenting alone was almost unbelievable. When I became a working single mom, the guilt and sadness of leaving my children for long stretches of time has become almost unbearable. When I sent my oldest off to college…well…I was actually so excited for him, I was just really happy.  Miss him terribly, though! When he had to come home, go to work, and attend community college because I couldn’t afford to keep him at the university (and we were trying to avoid debt), I felt so frustrated and angry that I couldn’t provide. When my little girls struggle to learn and nobody can pinpoint why, I feel desperate, at times hopeless, and saddened. When I see the many missed opportunities to be a good spiritual leader to my children, I feel like a complete and utter failure. But, wait….there is more to mothering than the fear, sorrow, frustration, anger, failure and please-leave-me-alone times…I promise there is. There are the wonderful times. Like, when every single one of my babies arrived whether by birth or social worker! Each day when one of my children says, “I love you mama” Every day I have with them.  Every. Single. Day. I would like to be less about justifying my life and more about enjoying my life. I would like to be focused on faith rather than failure. I would like to be all about grace rather than all about grumpy. There is more to life than comparisons, more to life than educational choices, more to life than parenting situations, there is Jesus. There is who I am in Christ.

“I am God’s chosen one, holy and beloved!”  -Colossians 3:12

In fact, the rest of that verse is a great way for us to live and a great way for us to encourage one another.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your heart to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God that Father through him.”  Colossians 3:12-17

I can’t say it better.  Love. Forgive. Be together. Get wisdom. Worship. Give thanks.

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