Saturday, 8 March 2014

How Competing and Comparing Wrecks Stuff

 Image Source: Pinterest

It's not much of a secret to anyone that spends time with me that I struggle with housekeeping. I'm not a neat freak - I'm far from it. I like things to look beautiful, that's the interior designer in me, but I've got no problem leaving my breakfast out on the table all day long, for the mere reason that I forget it's there - I'm way too busy thinking about how to rearrange the artworks on the walls, or what cushion I'll sew next, or how much better the room would look like if I changed the furniture around. Again. This year has been a couple of months of battling again my lack of cleanliness at times, and trying to do routines to help my home stay at a tidier level, complete with 10 emails a day from the FlyLady, and purchasing giant tomes on housekeeping.

Honestly, I do want to change. Sincerely, Sarah. 

I was driving around town recently thinking about all this and about the "people", who knows who they are, that have lovely clean homes where you could just pop in any old time and the floor wouldn't have crumbs and stuff would be put away. Where they've done their hair and their kids do what they are told. And I thought to myself "There's just no way I can compete with that."
It's a funny thought. Yet I realised that I often think it. "I can't compete". 
Which led me to think - why? Why do I feel that life is a competition? Why do I want to win at having the tidiest home, the most stylish living room, the most loved kids, the most laid-back attitude? (HA - can't have the last with the first ones by the way, EVER. FYI. I'm crazy.)

I've been thinking that particularly as women we either try to compete with other women, or we compare ourselves with other women - kind of both a different version of the same thing.

When I'm feeling like I have to Compete, I'm actually pushing another person down so that I can get above them. I'm wanting them to be less than, so I can be more than. I'm trying to make myself feel better by being better than someone else.
When I find myself Comparing, I'm pushing myself down. I'm making myself less, and making them more. I'm putting them on a pedestal, and I'm seeing only one side of them as a person. I'm putting a giant brick wall in-between her and I, destroying any hope for a decent relationship.

So I'm now trying to remember, when I find myself doing these things, to change the script. To write a different story.
Instead of Competing, I'm going to Champion. I will champion other women to be the best they can be. I will praise them, in front of them and to others. I will speak lovingly and generously about those things which I so admire in them. I will encourage them to be proud of who they are, their unique gifts, and who God made them to be.
Instead of Comparing, I'm going to Consider. I will consider that person, and her life, and her situation. I will see her as a whole person. Instead of comparing my clothes to her clothes, my hair to hers, my bible knowledge to hers, my home to hers, my kids to hers - I will consider her as a woman, wearing many different hats, and I will think about how I can care for her better. I will consider that while some areas of her life may appear to be wonderful, that there will be hurt and pain in her heart just as their is in mine. That she will need friends and relationships where she can be honest, just as I do. That there will be things in me that she may feel inadequate about if she chooses to compare, just as I do. Comparing gets me nowhere I want to go. The better path is that of grace, of love, and of mercy. And if I find myself comparing I want to catch myself, and choose instead to smile, look in her eyes, and ask her how she is, and choose to care about her answer.

I think that we try so hard sometimes to meet a certain standard, usually unattainable, and often fictional. We have an idea in our head of the "perfect" mother, or home, or attitude - not even perfect, sometimes it's just the "good" mother, home, or attitude - and we strive and strive to be this thing, without sometimes even considering whether that's right for us or not. We can be so busy - I know I can - looking to the left and the right checking out what everyone else is doing, that we forget to be present in our own life and to appreciate what we have.

The things that matter to me will not matter to other people. They'll have their own things that matter to them. We should be building our lives according to our values as individuals and as families, and thank goodness we aren't all the same - that would be terribly boring. I don't need to enforce my values on someone else, and likewise I don't need to feel threatened when I see someone doing well at something I haven't even got it in me to try.

Run your own race. Don't jump into someone else's lane and try to take over theirs. (A sporting analogy is kind of not really me, but Bianca Olthoff preached a wonderful message at the IF:Gathering conference about this and it has stuck with me.)

Here's to a year of Championing and Considering. May we really and truly know and understand Grace, for ourselves and for others.

xx Sarah

Currently reading: "Daring Greatly: how the Courage to be vulnerable transforms how we Live, Love, Parent and Lead" by Brene Brown. I just finished "Notes from a Blue Bike: The art of living intentionally in a chaotic world" by Tsh Oxenreider, and I can't recommend it highly enough - it's certainly influenced this post.

Currently listening to: "As sure as the Sun" by Ellie Holcomb. Be-a-u-tiful. The Joy the Baker podcast. The Art of Simple podcast.

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