5. Narrative of A Mother

The Comparison Syndrome...

Whether this is common in motherhood or not, one serious malady I have suffered from is the Comparison Syndrome. Maybe I was more susceptible than the average mother, so I'll stick to my story instead of placing this condition over motherhood in general, but in all honesty, my struggle with comparing babies and mothers and milestones was real and painful. I tried to ignore it, wish it away, pray for grace and wisdom, but looking back from the vantage point of twenty years, it was a heartless giant lurking in the shadows.

Accusations of having life handed to me on a silver platter, that I didn't really know what hardship was, led to trying to prove my position as a legitimate mom who does not have a smooth and easy road. Pride is a terrible and complicated monster!

But I'm here to say there is freedom from the guilt and pressure. For me, it has been a process of time, many years and tests and lessons along the way. But my Father has faithfully led me into the realization that I cannot measure up, that I will never have rest on this issue simply by proving myself capable of handling difficulties, and that my peace is found only in Him.

People will inevitably saddle me with a load too heavy to bear. There will always be someone who has expectations too high for me to reach. One mother might have a dozen children and still find time to run a business on the side. Another may have several with special needs and the endless responsibilities attached to them. The next seems to have perfected the art of running a smooth household and doesn't appear to face tumult of any kind. Yet another scoffs at the idea of a clean and tidy home for the greater thrill of creative chaos.

My life is simple and plain and orderly in comparison. As a result of the Comparison Syndrome, I have spent entirely too much time thinking that I have to be ultra-busy, stretched to the max, and supermom, to really belong in this motherhood category. If my house is clean and I only have two children and I enjoy life then I cannot contribute to the conversation of motherhood, because I really have no idea what difficulty is or how to handle trials.

These are the accusations that I hear in my head, "You think you have it hard, wait until you hear my story." "You don't know anything about real problems." "You really can't seem to take much pressure." "You only have two children, how would you ever deal with four or six or eight or ten?" And the list goes on...this has been an issue I've had to confront over and over again because of the insinuation that I am mediocre, even subpar.

I actually wanted more children because motherhood is my place of belonging, my calling, my dream of a beautiful and fulfilled life. But when I am only given two children, I am required to be content and secure and joyful in that place. And I am. But I have also had to battle through a host of withering denunciations on the matter.

There is, however, an answer to the dilemma. When I realized that it does not, after all, matter whether any human on earth approves of me, my upbringing, my methods, or my life, but the only thing that matters is whether I have God's approval, then I was released from the grip of the Comparison Syndrome.

When I understood that the Lord, as my Creator, did not make a mistake when He formed me and chose to place me in my parents' home, that He planned that I should marry and become the mother of two children in exactly the way it all took place, my doubts about myself began to melt away. He mapped out my entire life with attention to detail and a heart of such a boundless love as I cannot even imagine.

How can I ever boast of anything I've accomplished? Or, conversely, hang my head in shame for the conditions He has orchestrated? It's preposterous, when I really stop and think about it. It is senseless and ridiculous to compare myself with any other person. There is one place of satisfaction and security; that place is in Christ Jesus. I find an enduring rest in Him.

The one goal worthy of my attention is that of pleasing my Lord and Father. Life devoted to Him is vastly simplified, entirely possible, and completely fulfilling. The battles against rest in Christ still pop up now and then. I can't declare myself victorious in every conflict. But I am a child of the One who is victorious and He has all the weapons I need.

* * * * *

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I enjoyed exchanging baby milestones and getting advice or encouragement from other mothers. This is a normal and healthy ingredient in the life of moms. Conversations on all matters related to the sphere of motherhood are helpful and even necessary. What I had to learn was that I needed help from my Heavenly Father to deal with the disappointments of not measuring up to the unwritten standard for excellent mothering. 

The world we live in now, which provides constant access to a wide range of experiences and ideas on this and any other subject, is a potential recipe for disaster if you can't quite measure up. Don't even try! There is only One you want to please, there is only One with real answers, there is only One Who can fill the need for security, and He is the One Who created you and planned for you in love. Take Courage in Him! His plan is beautiful and glorious!

"Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it,
'Why hast thou made me thus?'
Hath not the potter power over the clay, 
of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor,
and another unto dishonor?
...that He might make known
the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy,
which He hath afore prepared unto glory" 
Romans 9:20,21,23

May the Lord help us to encourage one another in this calling of motherhood. Our lives are for His glory and in that there is rest from the Comparison Syndrome.


...to be continued

Comments

  1. bless you,Karyn as you encourage and bless so many others!...you are living in and fulfilling your role/calling as a wife,mother,friend and as daughter of the King....

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    1. Thank you, Martha, you have been an encouragement to me as well. God bless you!

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  2. "...Yet another scoffs at the idea of a clean and tidy home for the greater thrill of creative chaos."

    Ouch! That would be me! This article hit me between the eyes. Thank you for writing it.

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    1. You are welcome! May God help us both to travel forward in this quest to be like Christ.

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  3. I love this. Comparing is never wise because we are unique individuals.God calls each and everyone to different things. It makes us defensive and breeds envy or pride. God bless you dear sister. If id compare myself with you id fall so short on beauty style in my home and a joyful disposition and singing ability and being a wonderful patient mother.

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    1. Thanks Ruth! You are right...comparing is never wise. Oh, and by the way, the singing ability totally belongs to you, but thanks anyway :)

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