I can remember this day as if it was yesterday, when in reality it was 35 years ago. I was in a group of young mothers waiting for instruction to begin our first “toddler swim” lesson. I was new to the community and I didn’t know anyone in the group. The swim instructor asked us to go around the group and tell our names, the names of our children, and the child’s age. She started with the mother next to her and before seven or eight mothers had introduced themselves and their child, I began to dread my turn.
Now no one who knows me has ever thought me shy or retiring. I prefer to sit in the front of all gatherings, so as not to miss anything. If there is a volunteer needed or a prize given out – I want to be front and center. I have been known to “worm” my way to the front of lines and even if it appears all the seats are taken – I will look in the front rows, just in case.
Yet I dreaded all eyes turning toward me when it was my turn to introduce myself and my son. My shame came from the fact that I automatically compared my son with the other toddlers. When a mother said – “This is Wesley and he is 5 months old” I thought – ‘my son is 6 months old and he doesn’t sit up yet’. Compared to Wesley, my son was small and delayed in development. I compared my son to the other toddlers – and he came up lacking. I was a failure as a mother!
I am ashamed to admit that I compared my child to other children. It didn’t help that there were four other Benjamins in the class. (I guess that was a popular name that year – or maybe just for seminary students with sons)
Why do we compare our children to other children? Why do we compare ourselves to other mothers? Both exercises are futile and unhealthy. We woman tend to compare ourselves and our children to others as a way to measure if we are “doing all right”. If our child is taller, stronger, crawls faster, or talks more we think we are doing well as a mother. If our child “falls short” in stature, development, or ability, we blame ourselves and think we are failing as mothers.
Reading these words – it seems obvious that is it pointless to measure our value as a mother by the age our child walks, how many words they string together in a sentence, or heaven forbid – at what age they are potty trained. Yet if we are honest – we have done this to some extent or another. Comparisons permeate our culture and those of us who dedicate our lives to our families often have nothing else by which to measure our success or lack there of.
God has given us a better way!!!
2 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV)
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us,a sphere that also includes you.
It is clear in this Scripture that Paul is asking us to evaluate ourselves by the “sphere of service God Himself has assigned to us.” Just as I don’t expect the same level of artistic expression from beginning art students as I do from my advanced honor art students, God does not compare us to each other. God looks at what He has assigned us and asks that we be FAITHFUL.
I love these verses from II Timothy.
2 Timothy 4:7-9 (NIV)
7 I have fought the good fight,I have finished the race,I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Paul is telling Timothy, his young disciple, that he is nearing the end of his life on earth. Paul has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Notice it doesn’t say won the fight – just fought it. It doesn’t say won the race, just finished it. It says kept the faith – in other words – been faithful.
This is the standard we use to judge ourselves by – are we faithfully following God in being the women He has assigned us to be? It is the only measure that matters.