I’ve been hearing a lot about comparison lately so I’m reposting a blog post from last August. It focuses mainly on homeschooling but it can be adapted for any area in our lives. So here are my thoughts on it…
Homeschooling can be such a beautiful thing. But with every good and beautiful thing, Satan sets traps. Today I am sharing my struggle with comparison and falling into the trap of failure and inadequacy and how I fought losing myself and what I believe in.
I am five years into my homeschooling journey. Far enough along to begin to feel comfortable and confident in my ability and yet still close enough to remember feeling inadequate, incapable, and overwhelmed. Who am I kidding? I still often compare myself to other homeschooling moms, comparing our spaces, teaching styles, the adventures taken… And I find myself lacking. Comparison is a slippery slope that can so easily lead to a trap of failure. Teddy Roosevelt says that, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. But does it have to be?
Instagram and Pinterest can be wonderful places for finding ideas, inspiring creativity and connecting with others in this homeschooling community. But these social networking communities often force us into comparing. And so often we are “comparing our beginning with someone else’s middle” (Jon Acuff), our “behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel” (Steven Furtick). But there must be a way to surround ourselves with community without falling into a trap of comparison that leads to feeling inadequate.
So how do we stop comparing? Are we to live in a bubble; to segregate and isolate ourselves to protect from comparison and failure? Are we to homeschool without support and community? I’m not sure this is possible or even right.
My wise husband says it’s about embracing comparison and I think he’s onto something. It all boils down to this: We have a choice. To compare means “to examine the similarity or differences” (Merriam-Webster). If comparison means simply ‘to examine’ then it is in our next step where we have a choice. And this next step makes all the difference. When we compare, we have a decision to make. Will our next step be one of celebrating our uniqueness or will we allow ourselves to feel as if we are failing, inadequate and less than. Will we honor our differences or will we stop thinking for ourselves and begin going against what we believe in and who we are and going along with the crowd? Will we envy others or desire what they have? Cloud and Townsend say this in their book Boundaries With Kids, “Desire moves (us) to work. Envy just burns within” (p. 175). Desire inspires us to work hard at making obtaining a goal or making a needed change.
I believe we must pray that God will guide us in training our minds to see our differences as special. Guide us in the choosing and in the building of our community of support around us. If we are to surround ourselves with a community, a community I believe is not only important but essential, we need to learn how to compare in a healthy way.
Comparing your homeschooling journey with another’s can set you up for failure, especially when you are new, but it can also allow you to examine what’s really important to you, who you really are, and what you believe in. Examining yourself can also spark a desire in improving yourself in certain areas. It’s important to remember not to lose yourself and what you stand for and to remember that it’s about honoring who God made you to be and allowing our differences to distinguish ourselves.
Comparing doesn’t have to be just about examining the differences. It also allows us to connect with another person through our similarities. To find like-minded people to be inspired by, to learn from and grow with; people who will support and encourage.
I remember when I was first starting out, all I wanted to do was to see what other’s were doing and how their day was structured. I was feeling scared and unsure. I wanted to do this homeschooling thing the right way. But what I have realized over time is that our way is the right way for our family. And that is the beauty of homeschooling. It looks different for each family because we are all different. Your way will be different from the community around you, but it will be the right way for your family.
Thoughts of ‘I’m not doing it the right way’ or ‘I’m not doing enough’ can quickly lead a mother to think that she is not enough. And I am here today to remind you that, because of Who you know, because you allow Him to live inside you and mold you and shape you – you are enough. You are unique. You are the mother that God gave to your children. We must learn to feel secure, happy and confident in who God made us to be.
Comparison can either be a trap to feeling inadequate and cause envy or it can be a blessing in honoring our differences, and move us to work hard in obtaining them. We get to decide. There is a fine line when comparing the differences between yourself and another. I often struggle in finding this balance, in walking this fine line and being able to choose to honor my differences. This fine line can only be walked holding onto the hand of Christ. I believe we must be on our knees daily asking for guidance and for wisdom. God fills in the cracks of where we fail and covers us with His grace and with His strength and makes us enough. We are enough. We are sufficient. We are capable because we walk this path with Him.