I have. On a day when the kids are lagging behind in their school work; when you just can't get around to cleaning the bathroom (the last 3 days); the laundry is piling up because it has been raining and the laundry can't be hung outside; you look out the window and see the neighbor walking by to take her children to school, and she has her hair done up so nicely and she looks so fresh so early in the morning. Or you feel like you're really "on the ball" this morning and everything seems to be under control, only to realize...you're not sure what you will fix for lunch and the children are hungry.
Have you ever had a day like that, or am I the only one? And you're standing over a sink of dirty dishes, and another Mommy friend comes to your mind, and in frustration you think: "How does she do it? She has seven children and her house always seems to be in perfect order; the children's school work is done; her laundry doesn't ever seem to be piled up; she always looks like she stepped out of a fashion magazine."
I've had days like that, and the devil perches himself right up onto my shoulder and begins his accusations, and discouraging darts strike right through my mind and heart. If I let myself, I can get pretty low, and be really hard on myself. "You got up at 6:30. What do you have to show for it?!"
If I can make myself reason correctly, and let the Holy Spirit speak to me instead of paying attention to the devil, I realize several things:
1) Comparison is the thief of joy and contentment
II Corinthians 10:12 says that "...but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
I must realize that I will never be like my sister, Sarah. She is the sweet and patient mother of six beautiful children. She has the gift of being able to just sit down in the midst of a messy living room and relax and enjoy watching her children play. She is not worried about cleaning up the living room before sitting to relax.
My sister-in-law, Jolene, is the perfect example of organization and being able to stick to a job until it is done. Her beautiful daughter is always (ALWAYS) dressed in doll dresses, with her hair done up in the cutest styles. In my mind, she is the ideal mommy. But I am not her, and I will never be just like her!
My friend, Colleen, always makes time for tea parties with her girls and has time to sew such lovely things, and makes (yes, I said MAKES) dolls for her girls for Christmas. What an ideal Mommy! But I am not her, and I must realize I do not have the gift of sewing or making lovely crafts. I can't be just like her!
Not long ago, I threw up my hands in frustration and thought, "I will never be patient like Sarah! I will never be organized like Jolene! I will never be creative like Colleen." Then I thought, "I am not them! I will never be them! I am myself and God made me who I am!"
There is a danger in comparing yourself to people whom you THINK are smart, organized, patient, creative, and just always "on the ball." Comparison is the thief of contentment and can steal your joy.
2) You are who God made you to be
I can lament not being all that I want to be. Or I can say, "Hey, I am NOT Jolene or Sarah or Colleen. I am MYSELF!" My mother said something recently that just really blessed my heart. She was speaking on "The Ministry of a Mother," and she said, "God placed your child in YOUR womb because He knew that your child needed YOU for his mother." You can say, "Oh...my poor children will NEVER have a perfect mother!" Or you can say, "I am the mother God chose for my children!"
God knows me. He knows my failures and He knows my frustrations and He sees me when my house is a mess and my day isn't going as planned. And yet, He gave these children to ME. He chose ME to be the wife to that wonderful man who is my husband. I love reflecting on the thought that, in spite of the fact that He knew what my faults would be, He still entrusted these precious children into my care.
I like observing Sarah and Jolene and Colleen (and others) and I try to let them encourage me and inspire me to do better. But I can't compare myself to them because I am NOT them!
3) Enjoy what God has given to YOU
When you let comparison rob you of your joy, you are missing out on great blessings every day. I remind myself that, although I am not perfect and my children aren't either, they are so precious, and there is no greater earthly treasure I have than them. I live in a comfortable house, and it fulfills the needs of our family. Our house will sometimes be a mess, the furniture will sometimes be dusty, dinner will sometimes be a little late, the laundry will sometimes get piled up; and although I like to get my chores done in the early hours of the day, it is OKAY if it doesn't all get done. Life can still be sweet and fun when things are a little messy.
What do I want my children to remember when they look back on their childhood? Do I really want them to remember a Mommy who was always stressed out because she just couldn't get it all done? Or do I want them to remember a peaceful and joyful Mommy who conveyed an "it's okay, I will eventually get it done" attitude?
4) Let Jesus be your example
God is so compassionate. He made you. He knows you. He doesn't expect you to be like anyone else.
"But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:15
I thank the Lord that He knows me and loves me as I am. He sees my struggles, yet He encourages me and gives me hope. The devil tries to get me to see only the negative, but the Lord helps me to see that I can do all things through Christ. He is my strength.
Have a beautiful day with Jesus! You and He make a great team!