Curing The Comparison Trap

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Wearing a stylish workout ensemble, she drops off her four well-behaved children at preschool.   She smiles, says hello and hops back in her SUV hoping to get in a run before going to work and leading her Bible study that evening.

As I park the car, I slap on my hat, tucking my naturally frizzy hair underneath, hoping no one notices I’m not wearing any makeup.  It’s about that time that my daughter spirals into a panic saying she can’t possibly go to school today because her socks “feel funny.”  After dealing with the sock dilemma and getting Morgan to class, I drive off thinking about that mom and why I can’t seem to get my act together.

This is not a new struggle for me.  Whether it’s the mom at my daughter’s preschool last week or the cover of Seventeen magazine when I was a teenager, the problem is still the same.   Comparison can be a struggle at any age, but I have become increasingly aware of its ability to steal my joy as a mom.

Why Comparison is a Trap

In Galatians 6:4, Paul writes to the Galatians, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.”  The pride Paul mentions here is in reference to one’s confidence in their standing before God.  Comparison is a subtle but effective tool that satan uses to redirect God’s people from their necessary focus.  Here are the three major pitfalls of the comparison trap:

  1. Inferiority– On one hand, it can lead to feeling inferior to the object of our comparison, which leads to a lack of confidence in our identity in Christ.
  1. Superiority – On the flip side, comparison can make us feel superior and lead to pride.   Sadly, my feelings of inferiority towards “super mom” in the parking lot, ultimately turn into disparaging thoughts about her to make myself feel better.
  1. Self-Reflection – When we become TOO introspective about our need to compare, we can fall into an equally perilous trap. Often times, I found myself struggling with comparison over and over again only to realize I was focusing on myself instead of God.  This is a form of conforming to human standards(my own, in this case) instead of God’s standards.

The Cure for Comparison   

As you have heard, comparison is the thief of all joy.  It is impossible to be content and jealous simultaneously, as jealousy is so consuming.   That’s why climbing out of the contentment trap is incredibly freeing!

As mentioned in my post The Ministry of Motherhood, God used the Parable of the Talents to show how God rewards the use of his gifts.  Our focus shouldn’t be on comparing gifts and talents with others, but on how we are putting those gifts to use.  God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given.  It’s not about what you have but what you do with what you have.  When our minds are clouded of thoughts of comparison, we are distracted from using our gifts.  Ironically, this deprives the world of the blessings of our own unique God-given gifts.

“Super moms” only exist in the realm of social media and our own “snapshot” perceptions of others.  Our struggle with comparison is deflated when we come to the realization that we aren’t making comparisons to reality.  Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are great, but they give an illusion of effortless perfection.   From the magazine on your coffee table to your friends’ Instagram photos, it can be difficult to delineate what is real and what is contrived.  This is where our perspective plays a role, not of others or ourselves, but of God.

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What we need is not repeated self-assurance, but to look to Him, affirming that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). It is not enough to merely look at ourselves in self-reflection.  Jen Wilkin says it best in a recent post:  “Our primary problem as Christian women is not that we lack self worth.  We lack awe.”   When we focus on God, our struggle with comparison dissipates.  We come to realize that everything and everyone pales in comparison to the surpassing greatness of our God.

The good news is that there is hope for us moms.  By spending regular time with Him and remembering our role in His plan, we afford our children the directional marker of the unfathomable riches of His grace.  By focusing on Him,  we can extend His very own love and grace to them.  The greatest catalyst to your child’s spiritual growth is your own.

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Isaiah 30:21 states, “Whether you look to the left or the right there will be a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”  This verse always reminds me of a horse with blinders.  When we stare in any direction long enough, we will ultimately follow that path.   We have to keep our eyes on Him in order to follow Him well.  That means spending time in the Bible getting to know Him better and the providence of His plans.

Any time we compare ourselves to one another, it is a distraction from our true directional focus.  The habit of comparison flies in the face of our identity and role as conduits of God’s love and grace to a lost and dying world.  It compromises our ability to rely on His power and allow His power to bless others through us.

 

I would love to hear any feedback and insights.  Thank you for reading!

His,

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DIY Craft Desk

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My grandma is the “original DIYer” and the inspiration for the design of my craft desk.  She’s a unique combination of Ana White, Joanna Gaines and Miss Mustard Seed, all in one.  While running a high-end drapery business out of her home, it was not uncommon to find her building and painting furniture to accommodate her stylish but thrifty needs.

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When I received two small bookcases from her, I decided they would be perfect to use as part of my craft desk.  Remembering she had made some furniture out of  hollow-core doors, it gave me the idea to use a paneled door for the desk top.

A cheap door with some character was a necessity for this project so I headed to my source for DIY treasures…Restore.  If you haven’t visited your local Restore, you are missing out.  Basically, businesses and individuals donate building supplies to Restore in order to benefit Habitat for Humanity.  The products are sold to the public for a minimum amount.  I got this door for $6!

door before

After filling the knob holes in the door with wood filler, I let it dry a couple days before sanding smooth.  Then, I covered the door in a fresh coat of white paint.   After a light sanding, I set the door on top of the two bookcases and just like that, I had a craft desk with plenty of surface space.

The two-shelf bookcases are 32″ high so any similar bookcases would work.  One option could be these at $36 for two.   If you are concerned about painting laminate bookcases, don’t be!  Use this tutorial at LiveLoveDIY.  I have done it many times and the brush strokes actually resemble wood grain texture, making them look more like solid wood bookcases.

top of deskAfter ordering a piece of glass from our local glass dealer, I simply set it on the desk.  The weight of the glass keeps it in place.  Be sure to tell them that it will be used for a desk top so they make the glass the correct thickness.

For aesthetic and practical reasons, I absolutely love the glass finish on this desk.  For one thing, the panels add character and dimension.  The glass top is so convenient as I don’t ever have to be concerned with the moisture from a cold drink and cleaning up spills is super easy.  I got super glue on it the other day and I was able to scrape it off easily.

Also, the glass protects it from heat so I can use my glue gun to my heart’s content without being careful of a wood surface.  It is even a great surface for repotting my African violets(also a hobby of my grandmas), as I wipe it with cleaner when I’m done.

The added benefit of glass is the ability to write on the surface with dry erase markers.  It’s convenient to be able to jot down a reminder, or even my weekly memory verse.  Morgan definitely likes this feature as well.

 

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Premier Prints fabrics offers a wide variety of fabrics in coordinating colors so I was able to coordinate the fabric from the monogrammed wall art to the fabric on the bins.  The fabric bins at the bottom right are just diaper boxes that I covered and added ribbon.  In true Miss Mustard Seed style, I made a pleated seat cover for my stool.

Much like my grandma, Lucille Heitzman, my desk is multifaceted.  I use it to work on projects, write, pay bills, and play games with Morgan.  I absolutely love this setup and the fact that I am using my grandmother’s bookcases makes it more special to me.

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For the sake of transparency, here is how my craft table looked before I straightened up to take pictures.  As you can see it is well-used!   Morgan is drawing me a picture with dry erase markers.

You’ll see that many of my posts include a Before, After and Reality shot.  That’s because life’s real beauty isn’t measured by an “After” picture but in the happenings of everyday life, as messy as they seem.

Thanks for visiting and I’d love to here your thoughts on my craft desk!

 

‘Til Next Time-

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The Ministry of Motherhood: Reclaiming the Value the World Says it Lacks

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One day my daughter Morgan told me she had a big surprise for me.  She opened her little hands and revealed three of the biggest rhinestones in her “treasure chest”.  “They are for you Mommy!” she exclaimed as she just beamed with delight.  I put them in my jewelry box and gushed over them as if they were real gemstones.  As she got more rhinestones out of her craft box to bring to me, I realized that to Morgan these gifts were not just acrylic rhinestones that cost less than a dollar at any craft store.  On the contrary…these were her most prized possessions and she was giving them to me!

Since I was young I have heard the parable of the talents, however, I missed an important aspect.  In Matthew 25:14-30, a man entrusts talents to 3 different servants.  “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”

The first two servants were faithful and doubled their talents, so they both received the very same reward (vv. 21, 23). Although one came back with 10 talents and the other came back with 4, they were both given the same reward from their master….Why is that?  

The passage illustrates that God is much more concerned about how faithful we are with what He has given us than our perceived sphere of influence.  The Christian who is faithful in his or her area of service, though it may seem smaller in human terms,  will get the same reward as the person who is also faithful with a “larger” ministry.   In other words a businessman who strives to honor God in his business dealings will receive a greater reward than a mega-church pastor that is serving half-heartedly.

Often times as a stay at home mom, I feel like my influence in God’s kingdom is pretty benign.  I have come to realize that while I deeply desire to make a BIG influence in God’s Kingdom, I find myself using the world’s definition of “big”.   I forget to focus on what God sees as valuable.   The world values the bright, shiny “flash in the pan” ministry idea, but God values the kind of patience and faithfulness of a mom who raises children to honor Him – much like fanning a small flame until it is ready to burn bright into eternity.   Motherhood is not fast or easy but done in a way that glorifies God,  it has a profound eternal effect in God’s Kingdom.

It can be so easy to visualize what we THINK God has planned for our lives only to see that God might want to use us in a completely different way.  The apostle Paul is a perfect example.  He was raised to be a Hebrew among Hebrews and studied under the famous pharisee Gamaliel.  He was one of the most prestigious Pharisees of his day.  After his conversion, I can see how Paul might have thought his ministry would be to the Jews because of His background.  However, that is not what God had in mind.  God gave Him the opportunity to minister to the Gentiles, and Paul was faithful to follow, writing 14 books of the New Testament (if you include Hebrews).

There are days that my only opportunities to honor God are through housework or parenting.  However, it is not about what you are doing but the fact that you are faithful and using the opportunities He gives you.  Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  If I am scrubbing a toilet and doing housework to honor Him, this has more weight than gold in His spiritual economy.  

 God wants us to give Him our best- whatever that may be.  My pastor’s opportunity on a Sunday is to preach to a congregation, but my opportunity on a Sunday might be to be a Godly example to my daughter as we get ready for church.  Our audiences are different but what is important is being faithful with the role God gives us.

As I look back, I realize the most difficult phases in my life were necessary times of preparation that were necessary in order to be ready for the next phase.  The ministry opportunities you have now will be different than the ones in the future, so make the most of this opportunity.  The lessons you are learning are probably critical to the next phase.

If you are a mom, whether of one child or ten, you are in the trenches of ministry and you have the opportunity now to make an eternal impact.   Andy Stanley  once wrote, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”  Know that God has you in this season for a purpose and he has NOT forgotten about you.  He sees every nose you wipe and every diaper you change and, ironically, your service is a fragrant offering to Him.

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In Matthew 26, a woman breaks open an alabaster flask of precious perfume to rub on Jesus’ feet.  This perfume bottle could only be broken open once and probably costed a year’s wages.   More than likely, it was her most valued possession.  She gave Jesus her best as soon as she had the chance.  She didn’t leave the jar of perfume on a shelf to save it for a more lavish get-together.  If she had waited, she would have missed the opportunity altogether.

The woman took that opportunity to give the Lord her best in the same way Morgan gave me her best “jewels”.   It’s not about the world’s value of what we give Him, but taking the opportunities we have to be faithful to Him.  One day in heaven, God will reward such works with precious jewels that we will be able to throw at His feet.

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