One day in the midst of the craziness of getting my coffee made, I scrolled through Facebook for a mommy break. In the newsfeed, my friend Katie had shared a photo of her pristine, cute, crafty living room that looked like a Pinterest explosion. My eyes were glued to the design in her home and the eye candy on her walls!
She’s so much more gifted than I am. How does she do it? My home isn’t as beautiful as hers. Sadly, I dwelt on these thoughts and they put me in a bad mood. I was holding up the measuring stick to a dear, trusted friend of mine. I was competing and comparing and it had the best of me.
A few months later, I didn’t heat up another coffee cup in the microwave but instead got one at Starbucks with Katie. We talked about our struggles and I shared how I compared myself to her and all her gifts. She revealed how she’d done the same with other mom friends who were always going on outings with their kids.
“I can barely get out of the house each day,” she mentioned. “I feel like I’m not doing enough with my kids.”
I felt similar feelings. We laughed and talked about how you rarely see the whole picture of a friend’s life in your highlight reels. You see the joys and milestones, rarely the fighting with your husband, no make-up, unshaved legs, disaster-of-a-house kind of days, the dark reality of depression, defiant children, a broken marriage, tears on your pillow at night, or the pain of how life can be so stinkin’ hard (literally).
There is a way to celebrate those gifts and talents we see in our friends: the friend who can creatively homeschool all five of her kids and still remain sane. The friend who lives, eats, and breathes essential oils when you have no idea how to use them. The friend who eats squeaky clean and has chiseled shoulders from Beachboy workouts when you’re eating your kids’ processed mac and cheese. The friend who managed to fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans within two weeks after giving birth.
The friend who can sell Plexus, LuLaRoe, Norwex, and Rodan + Fields like nobody’s business. The friend whose husband can build anything from a scrap of wood. The friend who is traveling the world, while you’re wiping nasty noses and changing dirty diapers. The friend who seems to juggle ten different responsibilities when you can barely muster up one simple task. And more…
Comparisons sneak up in all kinds of ways and they indeed steal joy, but we can choose to be devoted to love and honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10). We can choose to praise each other for the gifts God has given us.
It takes time, humility, understanding, love, and patience to connect, instead of compete with one another in our hearts. It requires pulling up a chair at the table and listening. It also means calling competition and comparison what it is: Sin.
Envy, jealousy, and covetousness is not the way God desires for us to live. There is a better way. A more freeing, satisfying, and joyful way. There’s so much gratification, fulfillment, and sweet friendship when we connect with our friends to learn the full story of who they are and their unique challenges, not just making judgments from the mere snapshots on the screen. Because the Lord knows, we’ve all got mountains to climb!
When we reach out, it gives us a better appreciation for one another and helps us see that we’re simply not alone. Most of all, we discover the blessing of a friend knowing who we really are and loving us still– and vice versa– which is perhaps what our hearts have been longing for in the first place.
In my sinful nature, I still struggle at times with competing, but I’m determined to confess it to God, do my best to catch myself when I do, and instead ask a friend out for coffee.
If you’ve read Quiet Time, this story is what I’m referring to on Page 5. If you haven’t read a copy yet, you can do so here.
Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.