Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Comparison Trap - a talk for MOPS, Part 1

Dear MOPS moms and other fellow Beautiful Messes,Part 1 - Perspectives

I have shared this poem with you before.  It's taken from our educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason), but applies anywhere and actually to any age.  Alongside my children through the years, I have learned how very true this is for my life. And I want to start with this and weave it into our discussion on 'Comparing Ourselves to Others'.

I am a child of God, 
I ought to do His will.
I can do what He tells me,
And by His GRACE, I will.  

We are all different people.  We are each created a whole person.  What I mean by that is that we don’t live compartmentalized lives.  One person at home, one person at MOPS, one person at church, one part as a parent, or wife or Christian… we are all of those together, a conglomerate… a beautiful mess. We are real people (our children are just as much persons as we, only shorter).  We live real lives.

Wasn't it interesting to see all the differences we found in our approaches and personalities as we took the Mommy Personality Test based on the Myers/Briggs.  We are all so different!  Yet, we make comparisons all the time… "Is the grass really greener on the other side?"

To answer rightly, I should clarify our context for today  - Comparisons vs. assessments. I want to move us from a ‘comparison point’ to a ‘grace point'.  Really, from one perspective to the another.


Anyone ever moved? Anyone lived in a foreign country or different culture?

If you have followed Grace for the Day posts over the last year, you may remember Across the Ocean & Thoughts for Home and The Beauty of God.  I talked about cultural perspectives as an example of how differently we see 'familiar' things and sometimes forget to consider the possibility of another view. 
Our experiences shape who we are and what we think.  As broad of ideas as our worldview with the big questions of life and as small of experiences as what we buy at the market are influenced by those outlooks. Our perspective can affect how we see our circumstances and even hinder our relationships.  We project our own experiences into other’s lives without thought to how different they might be in their own applications. 
When our focus drops to our present trials, or just getting wrapped up in our daily struggles, our perspectives can become warped views that center around ourselves. It is those times when we slide right into that 'Comparison Trap'.  Either our expectations or our feelings keep our eyes on the situation, ourselves, or how we compare to others.  
Rocks are beautiful!  This one is from my garden in Germany.  You see, I didn't live life very gracefully while we were there. I was in the ‘Comparison trap’, and I was so busy comparing everything around me with what I thought it was going to be, was supposed to be; my expectations were off – my perspective was warped; my focus was ME.  My rock reminds me, “Thus far God has brought me” and that God is faithful even when I am not.
The Lord is like that; he blesses us when we remember His faithfulness in our lives.  Because we know His character, we continue on, trusting what he calls us toward for each moment; He shows us how he has sustained us in our lives.  I remember a Bible study with Beth Moore where she (and we) reflected on the ‘God moments’ of life; we can place a testimonial rock at this spot, “Thus far God has brought me”.  How gracious of our Heavenly Father to show us, so tangibly at times, His faithfulness in our life.  It sustains us when we are floundering and trying to find our way through ordinary and not-so-ordinary times.
Being open to a broader perspective rather than being constrained by false assumptions can help us extend grace in difficult situations.  And helps us admit we need that grace extended toward us as well.  What breadth and grace God has given each of us as unique individuals!  A shortened perspective can blind us to opportunities and keep up from loving each other earnestly (1 Peter 4:8).  Keeping our perspective in line with the living out of our Christian beliefs impacts how we respond to other people, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, in whatever culture, circumstance, or relationship God places us.

What's It All About?:

So how do we avoid the 'Comparison Trap'?  Next week, In Part 2 we will discuss: Focus.
Grace for the Day, Kelli