Friday, January 05, 2007

Lie #1

Has it really been a week since I posted on this blog? My, how time flies. All week I've wanted to write about what's been on my heart for the past few months. Back in August, I stumbled upon Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe, by Todd Wilson, a homeschooling Dad. This book did for me what Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, Lies Women Believe did. It revealed some erroneous thoughts (which are actually lies that I had begun to believe over the years, maybe not even consciously) which had become beliefs and were shaping the way I felt and acted. I highly recommend both of these books, and am thinking of buying a bunch of Wilson's books to give some of my homeschooling friends this year for their birthdays. It has been so freeing to recognize some of these thoughts as "lies" and "take them captive" to Christ.


I thought I would start the new year by writing a post each week about one of the lies that he highlights in his book, and posting my thoughts about that particular lie. He has some excellent insights in the book, and as a former pastor and a writer, his thoughts and writing are much more eloquent than mine, so I in no way intend to replicate the book here on my lil' ole blog. But, I thought it would be good for those who read here (me incuded!) to think through each of the lies. I'd also love to know what you think!

Lie #1: Everyone else’s kids are better than yours.

I know I have struggled with this particular lie before. How about you? I’ll be rocking along in my school year, thinking we’re doing pretty well, until I sit at gymnastics with another homeschool mom. We make casual conversation and she tells me how their school year’s going and what her kids are learning. Her toddler is sitting beside her, eating a healthy snack of carrots and water while playing with math flashcards. She just dropped another child off at strings ensemble. Her older child is nearby on his laptop writing a paper on the latest classic novel he’s read. Instantly, I’m dead in the water. “I haven't taught my kids that.” “My child can’t play that instrument.” “My kids could never learn that language.” “We haven’t fed the homeless yet this week, either!” Ack!!

Ironically, as you are reading this thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve met her… I’ve felt that way before… Whew! I could never be that mom. My kids could never be those kids,” chances are, in someone else’s eyes, your family IS that family! Isn’t that funny how that works? I think on some level we are always looking sideways at each other, imagining that each other’s kids are somehow “better” than our own.

The fact is, the perfect kids don’t exist, in anyone’s home. Each marriage is composed of two sinners, and the number of kids they have is the number of sinners in their homeschool each day. Period. We are all struggling, we are all imperfect. On any given day, we are comparing our known worst (because we live with ourselves and our children and we KNOW what goes on) to their perceived best (because we can only perceive momentarily, then our tendency is to project the perfect “snapshot” we saw at that moment into what must be every minute of every day at their house.) It’s just not the truth. And we are to think on truth.

So, first of all we must confront that particular lie with the truth: no family is perfect.
But, that doesn’t get to the heart of the lie in my opinion. So what if we know that everyone else’s kids are NOT better than ours. What if everyone else’s kids were functioning at exactly the same level, or even lower, as your kids? What if they had the same number, or fewer, talents? What if they [gasp!] weren’t as cute as your kids, either? Would that make you feel better? Then, you’ve still got a problem. The problem is… comparison. The truth is, their kids, and yours and mine, are exactly the kids that God created them to be. No more, no less. No amount of what I do at home makes my kids any more than God created them to be. We are not powerful enough to diminish them into less than God means them to be, either, for that matter. We are to nurture them according to their particular, God-given “bent.” To think that other kids are “better,” or that if I just worked harder my kids could be “better” is to foster the lie that I have that much power, or to believe the lie that it reflects on me instead of Him. Besides, better at what? Better than whom? What is better? And who measures “better” anyway?? If my kid was standing there speaking French and her kid was picking his nose, would that make me feel better? Can you say… “pride?”

I’m wondering if part of our comparison is a product of growing up in traditional school, where there seems to be constant comparison. Maybe if enough generations are free from such a system, the mindset of constant comparison will diminish. I don’t know.

If we need to believe that they are imperfect in order to feel better about ourselves and our own children, we have still not dealt with the comparison issue, we’ve simply reduced the gap to something we can live with. But the root of the lie is still there: that the condition of someone else’s family has some degree of bearing on the standing of my family. That’s simply not true. For example, I sent out some nice Christmas cards this year, a nice family portrait with a nice border. I was pleased with them, and I sent them. The same week, I received two cards from two of my crafty friends who had handmade their cards with the embossed ink, beautiful ribbons and gorgeous cardstock. Did that diminish what I had sent? Not at all. I could’ve instantly wished I would’ve created handmade cards and been ashamed of my 1-hour Walmart photo cards, but what a wasted emotion that would’ve been. And if their cards somehow motivate me to spend hours next year stamping and heat-drying cards for hours and hours when that’s not even something I enjoy or have a talent for, then there’s wasted time and energy involved as well. The time they spent doing that, I was doing something else.

God gave your children to you, not me. He gave my children to me, not you. They have exactly the mom, family, home, and homeschool teacher they were divinely meant to have. What’s “better” is to be free from comparison at all, on any level. At best it encourages insecurity and at worst it fosters pride. I’m not sure it will be possible to be completely free from it as long as we live on this planet in our fallen human skin and in our current comparison-driven culture, but it should be our goal. We should compare ourselves with Christ, see the gap, and work our whole lives in the power of the Holy Spirit to close that gap until we see Jesus face-to-face in our finally-perfected faith. The same goes for our kids.


If we would all do a little less looking side-to-side and spend more time looking up, we wouldn’t need to worry about who’s “better” at all. How we stand before others is NOT what matters. How we stand before Christ does. We are who He says we are, by His grace.


So, keep looking up... and don't believe the lie!

Next week, we'll confront Lie #2. Until then, I'd love to know your thoughts...

6 comments:

marmeesez said...

Bravo Cyndi!! I am standing up and applauding you, and now waving my diet coke in the air in tribute!
You really hit some important points here. I loved the line about your kid speaking french while someone else's kid stands there picking his nose...what do you feel? Pride. You so nailed that on the head...I think we have all fallen into that smug feeling before. Or, had it switched around on us...
great article, thanks for sharing.

Jenny in Ca
www.homeiswhereyoustartfrom.blogspot.com
(because my google account is not linked to my blog...)

Anne said...

Sin is so sneaky, isn't it? It can catch us anywhere. Thanks so much for posting this. I'll definitely have to check out this book and I've been meaning to read Lies Women Believe for a long time.

marmeesez said...

Cyndi,

I linked to this post at my blog. I really liked what you had to say, and I really enjoy your blog.

now I have to order the book...

blessings today,
Jenny in Ca

Holly said...

Girl!!

That is good stuff!

chickadee said...

this sounds like a great book. thanks for letting me know about it. i'll look forward to reading your other posts on the subject.

Jessie's parents said...

I have both of those books...I just need to read them! My goal for this year is to experience true freedom in Christ. I think that can mean many things for different people. For me, it means freedom from trying to live up to what the world thinks I should be, freedom from wishing that I looked more like a supermodel and freedom from the comparison game that I play all too often. I just started a new Bible study at our church called, The Woman Behind the Mask. The first scripture that we looked up was 2 Corinthians 3:17 which says, "For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." FREEDOM! We will not find freedom by looking at others. As you said, we have to look UP!

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