on finding balance {erin's story--part two}...

{in case you missed it, the introduction to the series is here...and the first post is here.}

in last week's post, i detailed how difficult my struggle for balance was this past spring.
i don't want to re-hash that, other than to stress, once again, to you that this was a real, tangible, 
anxiety-inducing battle i was fighting on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis.
and i felt like i was losing.

until I recognized three errors in my thought processes.

i'm looking back at a letter that i wrote to a friend (yes, i took photos of the letter--this series was brewing in my heart even back then), shortly after i came through the "eye of the storm."

"it may sound like such a simple thought, such a simple concept.  but He gave it to me RIGHT when i needed it so desperately."

the first adjustment in my thinking came in realizing that my all probably won't look like your all.  
and that my all doesn't need to look a little more like her all.  
and that He doesn't wish i'd do my all plus ANYthing.  
He just wants my all.  
and He and i are the only ones who know what my all looks like.

unbelievably, both of my other areas of faulty thinking were revealed to me that same day. 
{or maybe this is just how things like this go.  i've never been through anything quite like this, so i can't speak from former experience.  but you know how, once your brain gets working on a certain idea or plan or concept, the thoughts start building, one on top of the other?  that's kind of how this was.  all three of my errors in thinking--i know i keep calling them that, but that's just exactly what they were--all three of them were shown to me in the same day...the same saturday.}

anywhooo, that same day, i was given what i like to call "freedom of honest comparison."
they're all bad words when we're talking about people.
we aren't supposed to compare one child to the other...
and heaven forbid we compare our child to their child!

i am a big comparer.  
{that word doesn't look right...and it doesn't sound right, either.
but for the sake of this post, let's just assume it's a word, ok?}
i'm a big comparer.  i compare.
and most of all, i compare me.
i constantly compare myself to others.
...aaaaaaand your mind instantly jumps to an assumption about me.
"she thinks she's better than everyone else.  she thinks she cooks better, cleans better, schools better, eats/drinks/launders/dresses/grooms/parents/drives/gardens/farms/buys/sells/worships/gives/serves 
better than everyone else."
i constantly compare myself to others, but not in a prideful way.
no.  i'm too grounded to do that.
rather, i constantly compare myself to others and always find myself lacking.
i told a friend, "tell me one positive thing about me and i'll match you with fifty negative things."
i am my worst critic.
when i compare myself to others, the same person comes up short every time.

and, quite possibly, the worst thing about comparison is that there is a never-ending list of things about which we can compare ourselves up against others...
our income
our job
our house
our weight
our looks
our health
our eating habits
our exercise habits
our vehicles
our pets
our children
our family heritage
our education
our children's education
and on...and on...and on...

and while social media {namely Instagram} is a powerful tool, and it has brought so much good into my life, it can also be a daily--sometimes hourly--source of fuel for the self-comparison fire. 
at any time, any day, i can scroll through an innocent little app on my phone and find people who are better...

but on that saturday, i was granted the honesty to see MY better-ness, too.

before, i'd see, "she's so much more creative in her homeschooling than i am."
now, i also see this, "yes, but i'm far more creative in my home decorating than she is."

before, "her kitchen is so much cleaner than mine."
now, "yes, erin, but her family eats out three nights a week, while yours eats meals that you cooked at home."

you get the idea.  
i don't want to go on and on because, frankly, it's more than a little embarrassing, 
not to mention sounding trite and trivial and shallow.  
the extent to which we compare ourselves and others is downright ridiculous.

please, if you don't gain anything else from this post, i hope you'll get this.  
i do not believe that comparison is a good thing.
i believe that comparing ourselves with others is damaging and hurtful.
i believe that comparison is a double-edged sharp weapon, 
wounding both the compare-er and the compare-ee.
i believe that comparison is an instrument best left untouched, unused.
the Bible itself says that comparison is unwise. {II Cor 10:12}

all that said, i do believe that comparing is a natural human thought process.
i am not saying it is right or good or helpful.
i am saying it is natural.  and normal.

and on that saturday, i was finally allowed to see that i don't always come up on the short end of the comparison.
He showed me...He allowed me to see... that everyone is not always better at everything.
He gave me "permission" to be truly honest in my comparing--
to see that there really are things that i am better at...
just like there are things that "she" is better at.

while she may excel at gardening, i may be better at cooking healthy meals. 
although i might spend more one-on-one time with my children, she may be more fit and exercise more often. 
that family may have a beautifully landscaped yard, while our family gets to enjoy the geese and chickens that scatter our mulch and peck our perennials. 

yes, there are things that she is better at...
just like there are things that i am better at. 
that's how life is...strengths and weaknesses. 
in the end, 
it's a lot more about our fabulous differences 
and a lot less about our inferiority to others. 

now it's your turn...
is comparison causing an imbalance in your life?
do you have "one-sided blindness?"...only seeing the good and beautiful and positive in others 
while finding bad and ugly and negative in yourself?
is she fit and you're fat?
is she creative and you're thoughtless?
is she fun and you're dull?
is her house clean and yours is cluttered?
does she have rhodes scholars for children and david beckham for a husband while your own children struggle with times tables and your husband battles the mid-life bulge?

if you answered a resounding "yes!" to many of the questions above, you probably need to take a step back {or several steps back} and use honest comparison.  allow yourself to see, to acknowledge your own better-ness.
while she may be a scheduled, disciplined mom, you may be more carefree and fun.  there is nothing wrong with seeing that you are a more-fun-mom.  just like there is nothing wrong with her being a more disciplined mom.  it's not that either of you is a better mom.  it's that you are different, that's all.
she may have manicured nails, and you may have a manicured yard.  you're better at keeping up your landscaping.  she's better at keeping up her grooming.  differences.  that's all.

you'll find that you still see just as many positives in others...but you see those in addition to the positives you find in yourself.  the tendency to compare actually seems to fade as you gradually soften the sharp edges of those contrasts that used to cut you so deeply.  
we may find such admirable traits in others...
but we also see such valuable strengths in ourselves.

it takes time.
and it takes practice.
but it is ever so worth it.
you are worth it.

{i'll be back next thursday with the final installment of my finding balance story.  
after that, we get to hear from my friends.  i'm so looking forward to it.  stick around, k?}


  1. I think it's also growth when we can celebrate all the ways "she" is fantastic without having to figure out where I am better than she is. Our identity comes from Jesus and being deeply loved and accepted and forgiven and COMPLETE in Him. So even if someone is "better" than me in every single area, I can be free and happy in my spirit. None of my abilities ultimately makes me great...He does by His grace and His unconditional love for me that I can now freely give to others in all of their glorious strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Hi Erin! I'm one of your followers on instagram (kizzell). I am loving this series so far and really look forward to the rest. Comparison is something I struggle with so bad and have my whole life. It is so easy for me to see everyone's best and only see my worst. I'm beyond ready to kick this bad habit to the curb!


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