I’ve had a delightful visit with Lee’s brother’s family this week (with the exception of Laurel’s ear infection). My sister-in-law is a pastor’s wife who manages much of the music at her church, keeps her house clean, homeschools her oldest and keeps her children looking great even when they’re playing in dirt. There is much to admire. One of the challenges I have when I visit is not comparing– their three and our three are exactly the same age. We have different personalities but compatible values; even still, when their children are well behaved I worry that our children are not. When our children are better behaved (more than normal sometimes!) I feel happy that our children reflect well on our parenting. I asked several friends to pray for me on this topic, and I know they have been faithful to do so.
The other night I had an epiphany. I have been trying to stop comparing without any awareness of what I want to start doing.
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. II Corinthians 10:12
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
So I started brainstorming. When I’m comparing, I’m focussing on myself. True, I’m thinking about my children, but only insomuch as they’re reflecting on me. So if I want to put off the self-focussed thinking, I need to replace it with… others-focussed thinking.
I think God was preparing me for that thought, because all week I’ve been telling the children, “It’s not about you; it’s about others.” “Are you preferring yourself or preferring others?” and so on. So with some chagrin I realized that I needed the same message.
So I’m praying that God will help me to focus on others: how I can pray for them, how exciting it is to see God working in their lives, how they are happy and obedient, and so on. It’s early to say, but in between thinking about sick children I think maybe I’ve not been comparing as much. Maybe God’s working in my life, too.