In my last blog post I somehow found myself making a New Years Resolutions. I don’t normally make New Years Resolutions as I don’t normally find January the most conducive of months to try and commit to anything new. But this year I did, as I explored how it might be possible to choose to be happy even in the midst of hard circumstances. https://katiewigley.com/2022/12/29/a-resolution-to-be-happy/
So it’s now February and I’m pleased to say that despite, what has felt a really tough January, I believe I’ve done okay at keeping it. One of the things that has helped me has been trying to avoid playing the comparison game.
Being a parent is an absolute minefield when it comes to comparison. Is my child as good as his peers at reading, or writing? Is my child’s behaviour worse than my friends child? Should I be stricter? Should they be able to swim by now? Are they eating the right things? Does your child sleep through the night? Sharing with other parents is really important and something that was a massive loss during the pandemic. Hearing that you are not the only one battling with a particular development phase is such a comfort. But it’s a double edged sword because the reality is our children are all different and our family circumstances are different. There’s a real danger you can also tear yourself to pieces thinking you’re not parenting as well as the mum or dad next to you.
After some bad behaviour by our eldest at a birthday party a couple of weeks ago, Mike and I spent a whole evening (and a chunk of the night too) debating what we were doing right and wrong as parents and how our children behave and react to situations compared to other families we know. Now it’s not a bad thing for us to review our parenting style but we had to stop and check whether we were being fair to ourselves and to our children in our comparisons. Thankfully we had church the next morning and some good friends, provided some helpful perspective so we only lost one nights sleep to our worries on this occasion.
I took a bit of a down dip with my mental health during 2022 and one of the things I discovered was that I was comparing and judging myself quite negatively compared to other people, and particularly other women. I don’t think it was the cause of my sadness but it certainly didn’t help.
Oddly this comparison problem was being fuelled by what should be the positives of social media – the ability to follow various women doing some great work in leadership, in churches, in business, in counselling, therapy, coaching, raising children to know God. All really good stuff, ideas and inspiration shared and development programmes available to sign up to.
But I found that, instead of being inspired and encouraged to step up and out by these wonderful women I was following on social media, I was instead stepping back and retreating because I would never be as good as them, or I hadn’t got the capacity to sign up to the ‘development programs’ they were offering. I found myself doing the same at church. We are blessed across our four sites to have some really great preachers and I started to question why I thought I could take my turn at the front trying to help people learn more about God and His word for our lives.
When God told me to ‘get up off the mat’ last autumn, one of the things that He also reminded me was that He doesn’t want me to be any of these other women. He has called me to live, breathe, speak and act in the world as me – Katie. Yes there are things He wants to develop and grow in my life but there are things that I can uniquely bring to the world because of the way He has made me as me. Sure, there are things I can study and learn and improve, to help me write, teach, preach and parent better but God has called me to start doing all of those things now so God must see something in me that can make a difference to the world just as I am right now. And then as I do learn, grow and develop, I don’t have to try and replicate any of those fine women or men who inspire me – I get to fulfil God’s calling on my life as me. My job is simply to explore with God what that is going to look like within my set of gifting and failings, my family circumstances and geographical location etc.
As a result, over the past couple of months I’ve started to step up and out again a bit more. I’ve been seeking God’s direction and where I’ve felt his nudge trying to act on opportunities with confidence. The temptation to compare negatively is still there, but I’m trying to notice I’m doing it and check myself. I still follow the social media of the people I admire but I keep reminding myself that God has a plan for them and he has a plan for me. And I’ve definitely been happier for it.
If today you are are feeling discouraged in your worth, your abilities and contribution to life then please just take a moment and consider whether it’s because you’re unhelpfully comparing yourself to others rather than recognising what you uniquely bring to the world.
Then read these words and know today that they’re talking about you!!
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”Psalms 139:13-16 MSG
Be encouraged, God knows you, your situation, your strengths and your weaknesses. He made you. And he loves you! And he has great plans just for you if you’re up for it!!