Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The "C" Words

I've been mulling this over in my head for awhile now. I think adding Lillie to the mix of daily responsibilities has once again brought these thoughts to the surface of my mind. The "C" words I am referring to are "comparisons" and "contentment."

Naturally everyone wants to look at Lillie and "compare" her to past Spellman babies...you know, the obvious question of who does she look like, which child does she remind you of, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that type of comparison - its fun to reminisce about the boys being that newborn age and see how far they have come; to see what we have already learned in the still beginning stages of this hopefully long journey of raising them. It has just brought up the subject of comparing to the forefront. One of the things I have learned is that I usually hate comparisons.

I've been trying to figure out why I hate them - and maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I truly dislike them very greatly. It is hard to fully describe my feelings for them. I think I have determined that what bothers me is that they usually lead to discontentment. From the moment a child is born it seems that its parents fall into the habit of comparing the child to his/her peers. For the most part this can be harmless - but that is Satan's way isn't it? Him tempting us into a destructive habit by making it seem harmless...or maybe it's more about our sinful nature - our minds taking us down that bend in the road that is already ingrained within us and easy to take. Now, I'm not saying that all comparisons are sinful, but for me when a fellow parent starts to laundry list all the things that their little Johnny can accomplish it can begin to make me feel inadequate, or worse it makes me think that my child is inadequate. I then do not feel content with where God has me or my family. It is usually just the beginning of a slippery slope.

I've gotten better with this - now when someone starts to list all the things their child can do I can usually smile and listen and not have to then tell them what my kids can do or feel bad if my child is somewhere behind that parent's standard. I am trying to learn to be content - like Paul said in Philippians - cause this comparison thing is not something I want to "teach" to my children through example.

Cause really this game will spill over into the grown-up side of life and really in the end can wreck havoc on us spiritually speaking - and it goes beyond just keeping up with the Joneses. I have even begun to detect the negativity of comparisons even within my attitude during the everyday things of my life - if something doesn't quite go the way that I have planned it I can be pretty good at constantly thinking of how things could have been, pouting and having a pity party about how things are now different instead of just dealing with what is put before me. That applies in many areas of my life that I might be dissatisfied with...am I not satisfied simply because I'm comparing my life to the wrong source? God doesn't want me to be like everyone else - He wants me to be the person He created me to be and to live out the plan that He puts before me.

This gets me back to comparing children...you know I still slip up - and unfortunately I mostly play the "dangerous" game between my own children. Isaiah especially - usually I use it to show him that a few of the faults he has do not seem to plague his brothers and they, for goodness sake, are younger than he is. All this accomplishes is shaming him and also teaches him to compare himself to the wrong standard. I am teaching him to compare himself to others instead of teaching him to evaluate if he is where God wants him to be. As an adult when I fall into a trap of sin one of the first things I want to do is compare myself to the people around me...make sure I'm not the worst person out there - when really I should only be comparing myself to Christ, cause he is the only true standard of goodness. Thankfully, I occasionally do things the right way too so it all balances out and Isaiah isn't totally damaged from my lazy, crazy days of bad parenting.

"Share each others troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You really are a nobody. Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct." Galatians 6:2-5

I want to be able to share things with others without getting "me" mixed up into it. Sharing things with one another without feeling its a competition. I don't like being around folks who have to add on to what I have shared in their effort to top it - nor do I want to become that kind or person. I also don't like leaving a conversation with a fellow parent feeling inadequate in some way. So I am trying to choose to be content more often, to just deal with the stuff before me and not worry about the path of the other guy. Whew, that's hard work...


RK said...

You're so right, Jess. I've always had a problem with comparison and with contentment. I always thought my kids would be the smartest, best behaved kids, and would never be one to be behind in anything. God showed me in a big way that I had it all wrong.

Braska has brought another perspective, a forced one, kind of, in that there is no comparison. She is different. She cannot be compared to her peers of the same age. She'll never match up. But that's ok. That's just who she is. She is different. She's not better or worse, she is different. I still struggle with this reality, and even when I thought I'd let go of grasping for the competition, I find myself comparing to other kids with DS. Trying to do apples to apples, like that makes it better. How ridiculous.

I simply must be content. In all things. Most days I feel like I'm progressing...today's not one of those, so thanks for the reminder.

Jessie said...

it is such a day-to-day battle - and I think it is especially hard for moms...that's just my observation - I think its that mama bear instinct, we want to protect our kids so much and let them be the best they can be, secretly hoping they're better then everyone else's too!