It’s 5am and once again I wake with a jolt because I’m positive I hear the quick, raspy breath of my 3-year-old as he enters the room. I look around and hubby is just climbing in bed. “Maybe I’m just hearing things” I think to myself….But not long after Paul S. (Hubby) has settled in, I hear the breathing and faint whimpering of him standing by the bed.
I won’t prolong the story by giving a detailed description of everything that went down. What I will tell you is there was a lot of cabinet and door slamming. A lot of harsh commands of “get back in bed or else” and there may have been a moment or two where I separated myself by hiding (and screaming to myself) in the van parked in the garage.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
Whenever we (rather I) have a bad morning I always try to figure out why I had a bad attitude. I do a heart check to figure out if my actions are justified or not….and I have yet to find that they are. Usually through my evaluation and prayer, I learn that the reason I’m angry/frustrated is because I’m tired, because the child isn’t conforming to my ideals, or simply because I’m not getting what I want (quiet time alone, more sleep). Instead I’m met with the whiny demands of the tiny humans. I’m met with their selfishness and disobedience.
Believe it or not, I’m not going to hammer on the nail of self reflection in the midst of sin (although I do think that’s helpful and wise). Instead I’m going to focus on the dangers of the Comparison Game and provide an alternative way of thinking that combats the urge to compare yourself, or your kids, to others.
Now we all know what the comparison game is, but let me define it as it pertains to this post: looking at your circumstances and holding them up against someone else’s; the pursuit of the circumstance of others. This is a dangerous game to play for several reasons.
It is SIN. First and foremost we need to understand what lies at the heart of comparing yourself or circumstances to others. First, we see covetousness, because we want what someone else has. Second is discontentment, because we don’t like what we have. And finally pride because we think we deserve better and that if we work hard enough or come up with the right routine we will achieve our goals. Ultimately, it demonstrates that we don’t trust God to give us what we need.
It BREEDS sin. The sins mentioned above are all passive sins. But they lead to active sins. Often times I find the reason I’m so frustrated by our early morning wake ups is because OTHER KIDS sleep later. It’s frustrating to me that my kids aren’t like others. My frustration is not only a sin in and of itself but it is the expression of my discontentment with the children God has given me. It’s an expression of the selfishness in my heart. It’s an expression of my pride because I don’t think God is doing a good job, and I’m not trusting that the work and the circumstance he has given me are for my good.
Now you might be thinking it’s normal to get frustrated, but normal doesn’t make it right. Furthermore, frustration (at least in my case) often grows into something more serious. It often leads to me yelling at my children, closing cabinets with great enthusiasm (if you know what I mean), and hateful, hurtful words and tone throughout the morning, sometimes even the whole day if I don’t stop and repent.
It sends the wrong message to our kids. When I see my son screaming, crying, and throwing things out of frustration, my first reaction (after remembering that they are sinners and need a Savior) is to sit there in astonishment and wonder where on earth that behavior came from. I hate asking myself this question because I know the answer….and I don’t like it. In fact, nothing grieves me more than realizing that my kids are behaving in such a manner because I taught it to them. Go back to the first paragraph where I described my attitude that morning and picture a 3-year-old child. The behavior fits right? The frustration and anger that comes from comparison teaches our kids that it’s okay to behave in that manner if they aren’t getting their way. It also leads to their frustration because as you try to correct them for their tantrums, you confuse them because you behave in the same way but without consequence.
The other message it sends is that you don’t love them for who they are. While my kids may be too young to have this perception, one day they’ll be older and the emotional scars will start to show. They will feel inadequate and unloved which will lead to rejection of the very principles I’m trying to teach them.
Every Good Gift is from Above
Nothing good comes from comparing yourself to others. It leads to disappointment, discouragement, bitterness, resentment, frustration, and outbursts of anger (just to name a few). Ultimately though, we have to realize that our comparing ourselves to others, or our kids to other kids, is to say we aren’t happy with what God has given us. The opposite of discontentment is thankfulness. These children are God’s gift to you! He gave them to you with all their quirks and personalities and He has a purpose behind every one of them. One day, he will take my strong-willed, energetic boys and use those traits to further His Kingdom. But for now, he’s using them for my sanctification. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shadow of turning.” James 1:17. Your children are perfect gifts for you.
So dear sister, next time you catch yourself getting annoyed because your kid isn’t like another, remember that God gave us our children and our circumstances and thank Him. No, things aren’t always easy, but they are there to bring us closer to God which is the ultimate good. That’s what make our children good gifts. No, they aren’t perfect children, but God uses them as a means for our sanctification, making them good and perfect gifts.