I am my own toughest critic.
It’s so easy to compare my life with the lives of others: people I think have it all together. Especially moms that have mopped floors, perfect hair, no giant laundry piles in plain sight, cook dinner every night, AND go to work. They magically do all of this while I stay home and try to keep my curious baby girl out of the dog’s food bowl, while dutifully reading to her, singing to her, teaching her basic physics and calculus, giving her piano lessons, distracting her from things she shouldn’t touch and climb on, and occasionally remembering to clean the toilets, scrub the showers, vacuum the carpet, and fight off the ever present laundry monster. (The list goes on…)
Just thinking about it all exhausts me.
And how am I supposed to DO everything AND enjoy it? How am I supposed to do everything and enjoy it all without comparing and complaining and falling into a sad, pitiful pile of exhausted mess.
Well, I didn’t really know at first, but I think I have an idea now and I’ll tell you.
I keep seeing this quote on Pinterest:
Now, I’m a skeptic when it comes to the things I see and read on the internet, so I can’t tell you for sure that Theodore Roosevelt actually said that. However, if he did, I’d like to thank him and shake his hand! (His alive hand… if I could actually go back in time and shake his hand when he was alive… this is all hypothetical of course.)
Ole Teddy boy must have been reading my (imaginary) diary when he penned those words. The entry where I scribbled down all my “woe is me” sentences and believed the lies that something must be wrong with me or I have to change or I have to try harder and do better because no one else ever has a dirty house or an unbathed kid or unwashed hair or a dog who obsessively licks feet and faces.
And then I saw that quote.
It made me wonder if comparing my life with the perceived lives of others around me was actually stealing my joy. Where is my joy? Where! Shoot! Some of it has been stolen!
And because I honestly still don’t believe Theodore Roosevelt said it, I decided that maybe I should investigate the one source I actually do know as Truth.
The Bible talks about a lot of things. I’m not here to give you statistics on all the “things” the Bible talks about, but I do know that it talks about jealousy and joy. And the more I investigate, the more I have begun to realize at the root of all my whiny comparisons is jealousy. I am really being envious of what others have and that is stealing my joy.
I think God was onto something when he told Moses to tell the Israelites:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17
Maybe you’re saying to me, “Janine! It’s all good, you’re not coveting your neighbor’s house… just the clean floors! And you’re definitely not coveting your neighbor’s wife, servants, ox or donkey…” (Well, maybe that’s really what I was saying to myself so I could justify all the whining.)
But the reality is I am. Just like the Israelites.
I am coveting the things I see that I do not have. The things I want and things I think I need (mopped floors, clean babies, well-mannered pets…) in order to be happy and content with the life I’ve been given.
When in reality, I have more than I need (food, clothing, water, shelter, and lots of love!) and mostly everything that I want. (Except that spotlessly clean house!)
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12
So, Teddy. If you really did come up with that whole “comparison is the thief of joy” thing. Well, thanks. You helped me to investigate the root of my comparisons (jealousy) and the source of my joy (Jesus).
Remember your joy!