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The Comparison Trap

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I have a confession to make.

{You’ll have to excuse my thoughts if they are disjointed and random, but the thoughts have been on my heart a lot lately…and I’m never near a pen/paper when they all come rushing in on each other. So for now I’ll just type and hope that my thoughts come through clearly and you hear my heart.}

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Over the last few months I’ve really, really struggled with the whole comparison issue. Truthfully, issue isn’t the right word. Trap is a much better one.

Because you can get stuck in the depths of comparison and run things around and around in your mind and never emerge. It’s a really dangerous place to be.

Comparing my children to others ~ because her children are so much more well mannered than mine. Comparing this or that or ANYTHING, fixating on that issue and letting it fester and destroy the joy of what I have been given.

In October I was hit smack in the face with the issue when I was at the Relevant Conference. Thankfully, I was surrounded by some amazing women that I am blessed to call friends and who encouraged me. I cried {the ugly cry} and just let God cover me with His grace and mercy ~ and reminders that He created me to be ME.

Not her. Not you. Not anyone else. I am uniquely me for a reason. And if I am walking in what He has called me to do and who He has called me to be ~ that is enough.

Since that time I’ve had to stop doing some things that may cause me to compare {maybe reading a certain blog or watching a certain show…}. Instead, surrounding myself with encouragement from the most important One of all and others who speak His truth.

God has gifted each of us with abilities that are unique to each one of us. Traits that are special and give us a special role. We are fearfully and wonderfully made {Psalm 139:14}.

Can I just encourage you today? Be the woman that God created you to be!! Know who you are in Christ and cling to THAT truth! Be yourself ~ because you are the only person who can be uniquely you.

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you for the beautiful encouragement! I also tend to quickly find
    the jaws of that trap! I had gotten some great words of encouragement
    one time from a more experienced mom; she said, ” not only did God
    create you he also created your children and there is no other mom more
    suitable for your children than you! Just as there are no other children
    more suitable for you! It was so profound to me honestly it shouldn’t
    have been, but if certainly stuck with me and speaks to me on a daily
    basis! It’s so hard to not compare. When we put our children in the
    Lord’s hands and trust Him that he will give us the strength and wisdom
    to raise them, and because he does supply those needs comparing almost
    feels sinful to cast that knowledge aside and be led astray. Honestly I
    have to ask forgiveness for that more often than I do. Thank you again!
    I’ll look forward to exploring your blogs!
    Rebecca
    New homeschooler of 2 wildly amazing little guys!

  2. Amanda Lassiter says

    AMEN!! This blog post needs to go viral. :) I’m sharing… love ya! 

  3. Thank you for sharing!

  4. yes… and I thank you for writing this post!

    I think sometimes we need to protect ourselves from this trap by monitoring the sites we visit, the people we spend time with, and first and foremost by covering ourselves in God’s word.

    You spoke to me today – thank you.

  5. I love this! I think we all struggle with this – it comes & goes like waves for me. Thanks for sharing =-) I think you are AMAZING!!
    Beth =-)

  6. Thank you for a sincere post.  It really came from your heart.  I think all moms find themselves in the same situation every now and then. When it happens to me, I just tell myself that this is who I am and God will do the rest. That I will put love and sacrifice into the equation and hope for the best. Of course, it is easy said than done.
    You are the best mom for your kids, nobody else.  Take care.

  7. Heidi Barker says

    This is a wonderful, heartfelt post Jolanthe. Oddly enough you are one of the people that I try not to compare myself to. That was meant to be a compliment. I hope it came out that way. I read the blogs for inspiration, and yours is one of the best I read. Your creativity, faithfulness, and love are such an inspiration to me and so many others.
    Whenever I find myself walking toward that trap of comparison I try hard to remember that it isn’t God who is leading me there. I know that God is pleased with me and that, in order to honor Him, I should be more content with my life. I tend to be happiest when I am not striving to be something that I’m not, and just enjoying who I am.
    I pray that you and your readers spend more time with the feeling of contentment.

  8. Awesome post!!!  Have I told you lately how much I love you and thank God for placing you in my life? : )   

    • Nah…but you can tell me tomorrow when I’m huggin’ on you. :) You are an amazing encouragement {and grounding} for me as well.

  9. I so agree with this. I feel as a homeschooling mom we sometimes feel like we have something to prove. If our kids aren’t as smart or well mannered, if our homes aren’t sparkling and dinner isn’t gourmet, we think we’ve failed. I struggle with this daily. I did what you said about deleting some excellent blogs from my reader and getting off Facebook to keep it away. I’ve just started to step away from the Internet and learn to be in the moment with real people and it’s been awesome. You get to see a real life rather then the best representation online.
    Keep up the good work. You are a HUGE encouragement to me.

  10. uttopia904 says

    Thanks for this post and your honesty.  It’s so easy to compare, but like it says in Jerimiah 29:11, God has a plan for me.  Me.  That’s not His plan for my neighbor, or friend or other homeschooler.  Why is it that such an important lesson is so easily forgotten?  Thanks for the reminder.

  11. So true!! What a great post! It is so dangerous to get stuck in that comparison trap, God created us to be unique and to strive to be more like Him not someone else.  Thanks for your honesty, it’s very encouraging.  There are some great comments so far too. Yours is one of my favorite blogs, thanks for letting God use you in this way.

  12. I’m still thinking – YOU – but YOU ARE IT! you’re “it” for/to me.  Funny how we have these “levels” and not embrace everything as KINGDOM gain.  That we’re all actually working together (or maybe we should be).

    Prayers for blinders friend – to see only the work HE has set before you.  Because you are amazing … wonderfully made … to glorify HIM.
    (hugs)

  13. Jolanthe,
    Thank you for your humility and openness in this post. This is a topic that is very near to my heart, as I have struggled with this “trap” quite often. Wether it be about the way I look, the way I homeschool, or whatever, the temptation to compare is always there. And sadly enough, it seems to be a common and painful trap that most women find themselves in. I have 3 daughters and can already see them being tempted to compare themselves to one friend or another. I am trying to remind them daily of how much God loves them and how HE created them JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.
    I enjoy your blog…….

  14. Jennifer Lambert says

    Thank you for being so transparent and real. I think we all struggle with this. My husband has no sympathy for my guilt and comparison issues. Co-op has been a nightmare for us this year. We have few, if any, real friends. I am also discontinuing some of my blog reading because it makes me feel so inadequate! You’re such an encourager! Praying for all of us dealing with this…

  15. This is a very timely post for me, as I have been struggling with this issue for quite some time.  Thank you for your encouragement!

  16. Thank you for vocalizing what I’m always afraid to say out loud. I am a mommy to an amazing 4 1/2 year old girl and an awesome 7 1/2 year old bonus daughter. While I do well in not comparing in my every day life when it comes to my bonus daughter it just drives me crazy and most of the time just hurts my heart. I’ve been her bonus mom since she was 18 months old, so my relationship with her is wonderful and as rewarding as my biological daughter. Where it tends to hurt is the things her biological mother gives her, especially at her birthday and Christmas time. My bonus is VERY quick to share the expensive (too much in my & hubby’s eyes for a very irresponsible child) gifts mommy got her or that she has at mommy’s house.

    The older she gets, the comments seem to be slowing down. Mainly because she is truly beginning to understand that these comments can be hurtful, not only to myself and her daddy, but also to her younger sister. We are truly trying to teach that it isn’t the ‘things’ that make life important it’s the time we have together. So now, when moments like that occur, we remind her of that and move on. Then when she is in bed I try to remind myself that when she needs to be brave (like when she got her ears pierced) it wasn’t her mommy she wanted sitting with her in the chair, it was me.She still wanted mommy there but, it was my hand she wanted to hold and me whispering in her ear that it was only going to hurt for a second. Those are the moments I have to remember when I feel like I’m not making a difference or feeling like I’m nothing compared to her mom.

    Sorry to be so long winded but I really did just want to say THANK YOU!

  17. Not you too?  Is it odd that it’s encouraging to me to hear that others struggle with the same thing?  I struggle with this sometimes with my kids because it seems like they’re not doing ___________________ or for myself because I’m not doing __________________.

    Thanks for writing this.

  18. I struggle with this, specifically with our homeschooling! We are a first-year homeschooling family, and I am homeschooling four different grades (3rd, 2nd, 1st, and Kg). All of my kids are English language learners–the oldest home for four years and the newest home for 10 months. Needless to say, we do not fit most homeschooling molds. When I see the many different subjects and activities other families do, it is very hard for me not to feel inadequate and that we are not doing enough. HOWEVER, I know my kids’ abilities and I know what we really need to be focusing on for right now. I just have to stay focused on US and use blogs and other resources as inspiration, not standards. ;)

    • You SO hit it right on the head with that last statement!! Inspiration is one thing, but when I set that up as a standard for myself it gets so hard. :) Thanks for sharing!

  19. I have definitely been here, and it’s always a sign to step back, reassess, and move on. Just like you’re doing. 

    But I also wanted to share something I heard yesterday. It was a talk (that I missed the title on and the woman speaking), but she was talking about what it is to be a Christian. One of the things she mentioned was jealousy. Along those lines she brought up God’s will, something I’ve never thought about. He gave us a will to choose right or wrong, but God also has a will to give gifts to certain people – some seem to have more than others, some none, etc. but it is God’s will to choose that and we should not be jealous but be thankful and to bless the other person. I found it very interesting and such a nice way to think about how each of us is unique in God’s eyes and He has His own plan for our life.

    God bless!

  20. Tamara Lewis says

    Thank you for your post!  It is so easy to fall into that trap.  I’m constantly comparing myself and my kids to others, and I miss the fact that God created us exactly as he wants us. 

  21. Amen!! Something everyone struggles with. Thanks for sharing! 

  22. All I can say is WOW and thank you.  I have been struggling with depression  for 3 1/2 months now and I have felt like it was because I look at my surroundings and I don’t measure up.  But measure up to what?  This so spoke to my heart today.  I am definitely sharing and bookmarking to read this daily.

  23. Thank you for sharing and the encouragement.  As a new home schooler I feel a pressure from reading the local emails about activities we could be doing, pressure from grandparents (real and imagined), and even from myself – comparison mode. 

  24. Thanks so much for posting this! As others have said, this is so common but I think hard to talk about because it’s so personal. I struggle with this trap and more on the end of why others are closer friends than with me. Love your blog and all your encouragement! :)

  25. NicoleTaulman says

    One year for our anniversary, I gave my husband an antique spoon. It symbolizes just being the best YOU that you can be. Don’t try to be someone else. In other words, “If God made you to be a spoon, don’t try to be a fork or a knife. Just be the best spoon you can be.” It’s a personal joke between us, but rings so true. My husband needed a visual. 

  26. I’ve been there….way too many times!  There’s something about blogging that tends to bring that out in me.  I feel discouraged because everyone else has a more “popular” blog or they get to do awesome things or they think of the cutest ideas. 

    And then, I remember, God has put me in this place at this time.  If I’m seeking Him and living and loving in relationship with Him, it’s all good.  I will do whatever he asks and be obedient. 

    I may never have a highly-read blog, I may never have children that obey (or clean their rooms or remember their math facts!), I may never look like so-and-so, I may never…and so it goes.  But we’ve been set free and I’m claiming freedom!!

    Thanks for the encouragement today.  I love you, girl!  Press on!

  27. Leslie Barkley says

    What a wonderful post.  Thank you for taking the time to write it (and confess it). I believe everyone struggles with this from time to time.  We all need to be reminded to fight it.

    Thank you!

  28. Oh my word…I am writing a similar post right now-it has been a work in progress for about a week now!!!!  I love you friend and how God pulls at both of us, often in similar situations!

  29. Thank you so much.  Comparison is something I struggle with HUGELY.  

  30. thank you so much for the encouragement!

  31. Thanks, I really needed to hear this today!

  32. Loved this post.. have fallen in that trap so many times.. Thanks for the reminder to be who God has called us to be!  Love you friend!

  33. Reading your post hit a cord with me, been going thru this same thing the last several months.  Thanks for sharing & encouraging other women!  This is why I love reading your blog.  :)

  34. Wonderful! Thank you!

    • Thank you, thank you!  First, for having a wonderful blog full of useful information and encouragement… I am considering homeschooling and trying to figure out where to start.  Second, for posting about my own personal struggle in life… wishing I was more like blah blah or so and so… I’ve never thought of it as embracing the gifts that he gave to ME>  he has a purpose for me, maybe just not the one I thought of!  I now have a new prayer to meditate on!  God Bless YOU!!!

    • Oops! Sorry I just realized I replied to Gracie, instead of Jolanthe.. new at this :}

    • Suzanne ~ Feel free to email me if you have any questions. :)

  35. shannon bradbury says

    can i just say thank you for posting this. i especially struggle with this with homeschool everybody does certain things and if  you follow what everyone else does it can get overwhelming. thank you for the encouragement.

  36. Nataliepease says

    That’s exactly why I stopped watching Jeopardy!  I kept thinking, “could my kids be on that show?”  It literally gave me an anxiety attack!  How silly of me!  Of course they can, but not because I did or did not teach them the “right” things, but by God’s grace.  It is sufficient for all of us. 

  37. So true.
    I’ve tuned out many a blog (MANY a blog), and have put so many of my facebook friends on “hide”, that I almost have no reason to check FB anymore.  :-D
    I was just talking with a friend about this very thing today…we need to be careful with whom we vent.  For many of those who don’t homeschool, the answer to every homeschooling mom’s frustrations are:  Public School.  Period.  
    What HSing moms need to do is bind ourselves together to gather encouragement and support.  Thanks to blogs like yours, we can do just that. 
    Thank you!

  38. I am guilty of this & so often feel like I don’t measure up as a homeschool mom. My dd has dyslexia & for my son everything comes easily. It is hard sometimes to not compare & not get frustrated because it doesn’t seem fair that she has to work so hard. I need to remember to focus on what is good & not on what is not perfect.

    Thanks for this post. To me you seem like superhomeschool mom & I wonder why I can’t seem to even get through the basic subjects most days, let alone all those “fun” projects read about on homeschool blogs.

    Women are their own worst critic. Two summers ago I did a great Bible study called “Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Make-over” by Jennifer Rothschild. This is such a great book/workbook.

    • There are some days that are fabulous and others that it takes 2 HOURS to get through just a bit of nonsense with a certain kiddo. :) It just depends on all the variables. I’ve found different ways to work around some issues with the kids, but the biggest help is PRAYER. Lots of it. and patience. and grace…for me and the kids. :)

  39. Yep…struggle with it all the time. This is the spin I torture myself with….I am not living up to who God created me to be.  Someone once called me a grace driven person…guess I have grace for everyone but me:)
    Thanks for sharing…love your blog!

  40. Timely… and so true! Thanks for your transparency, Jolanthe. I’ve followed your blog since I began homeschooling just under 2 years ago, and have gained much encouragement and inspiration from you and yours. Often your posts speak to me, but this one… well, I think many women — especially moms — struggle with this “trap,” but don’t want to admit it. Or don’t feel they should because it makes them seem weak, or wrong, or unfaithful, or, or, or… We need to remember, as Steven Curtis Chapman says in such a catchy way, “Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you, cause He made you to do everything you do to put a smile on His face and tell the story of Grace…” He is who we need to do everything for… nobody else. Continue to surround yourself with beautiful, faithful people — I will too. Thanks for the blessing of your post.

  41. This spoke to me like it did to so many others. Thank you for sharing your heart and speaking encouraging words that it seems so many needed to hear.

  42. Very inspiring post. Needed to hear what you wrote as well as read the comments below.

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