I’ve discovered something. When I spend time a lot of time scrolling through social media, it messes with my head. It can leave me feeling a little, well . . . less than.
Can you relate? One minute you’re catching up with friends and seeing pictures of their families. And the next minute—wham. Photos of someone’s latest spectacular dinner party with place settings made of raffia and freshly grown herbs. Or the newly organized office space of a friend that would make Marie Kondo sniff away a tear of pride. Or what about an acquaintance who has (yet again!) pulled together an amazing trip, complete with coordinating family outfits, themed activities and a downloadable playlist from iTunes?
It can make even the most self-assured woman wonder why in the world she couldn’t be more like . . . almost anyone else on Pinterest?!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to share an excerpt from my upcoming devotional called Find Peace: A 40-Day Devotional Journey for Moms. This story always makes me chuckle, especially when I find myself falling into this all-too-familiar comparison trap. And it also reminds me that God does not intend for us to live this way! He has gifted us each differently, and has good things for all of us. We just have to take our eyes off the comparisons and notice the great things about our lives!
Leprechauns and Expectations
The next day was St. Patrick’s Day. It was also the day my friend, Vicky’s, first-grade son was due to turn in his “Leprechaun Trap” school project. Gabe had been working on it for days with unusual diligence.
The year before, leprechauns had snuck into Gabe’s classroom, leaving chocolate coins, messed-up toys, and even—to his glorious surprise—green urine in the toilets. Gabe couldn’t wait to see how his trap worked. Vicky couldn’t wait to find out which overzealous moms had volunteered to sneak into school at 5 a.m. to arrange everything.
But that night, as they were praying before bed, Gabe prayed they would catch a leprechaun in their house the next morning. He clearly couldn’t wait to see the chocolate coins in the kitchen and green urine in the toilets.
“Oh, wait, honey,” Vicky said, smiling. “You’re building a trap for school. Leprechauns don’t come to our house.” After a busy day at work, the kitchen still a mess from dinner, and three other kids to put to bed, she had no intention of running to the store at 9:30 p.m. for chocolate coins and green food coloring. And who in the world wants to mess up their house on purpose?
Gabe stared at her. “What?” he asked. “What do you mean?”
Vicky calmly repeated, “The leprechauns only come to your school, not our home. This was an assignment from your teacher.”
Gabe was clearly very upset. “Well, that was a big, old waste of TIME!”
Vicky felt terrible—and angry. He had been working so hard and would now feel his hard work made no difference. It also felt like yet another mom failure, not living up to the expectations set by other more creative and, she assumed, less busy moms.
Why Do We Get Stuck in the Comparison Trap?
The comparison trap can create a lack of peace in an instant, can’t it, ladies? There’s no end to the places we can go to see someone doing our job bigger, better, flashier . . . and with green food coloring, no less. Just take a look at the ideas on Pinterest. You can even find ideas for an apologies-in-advance goody bag for the airplane—complete with earplugs and some cash for a drink—for when you’re traveling with babies.
I’ve never been good at crafts or holiday goodies, even though I sure wish I was. It is easy to feel like everyone else is doing a better job in this department. Or even to roll my eyes at their “overzealousness.” I hear stories like Vicky’s and think, Can we all just agree to lower the bar and give busy moms a break?!
But then I think: my teenage daughter loves this kind of stuff. She volunteered for the prom committee and spent hours creating complicated, beautiful, backlit table centerpieces. It brought her joy. When she is a mom, she will probably love to create class goody bags and sneak in green food coloring on St. Patrick’s Day.
If she genuinely gets pleasure from using her creativity and gifts to decorate, celebrate, and bless others, should I deny (or make fun of) the things she’s doing? What about other moms? Maybe, just maybe, they aren’t “raising the bar” but are simply using their gifts to bless their little corner of the world. Maybe other non-crafty moms like me can accept those gifts, use our own gifts in other areas, and stop feeling “less than” simply because we don’t enjoy the same things.
So much of our mom guilt comes because we feel we “should” be like someone else. But like we tell our kids, we’re all created different! As we embrace the design and the life God has for us, peace will come. What He has gifted us with is what He asks us to bring to Him.
*Excerpts taken from Shaunti’s upcoming book, Find Peace: A 40-Day Devotional Journey for Moms due out April, 10, 2019. Pre-order your copy here!
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Peace: A 40-day Devotional Journey For Moms, focuses on discovering biblical direction to become a woman of serenity and delight in all seasons – and have impact for generations to come.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.