Last night my husband pointed out how my "innocently" comparing my mothering skills to that of another mother was actually envy, coveting or even jealousy. What? Could this be true? I think he had heard me point out one too many times how other sons greet their mom with hugs and kisses, or how other sons are obedient and listen the first time they hear their mom. My constant comparing results in my feeling like a horrible mom and my husband needed to stop the insanity by pointing out the root of this talk.
How could it be coveting, envy or jealousy when I wasn't begrudging other mother's their unique relationships with their sons? In fact, I am happy for them. So how could this really be a bad thing? When I compare, my eyes take a mental snapshot of an interaction which is stored in my brain. A snapshot is one picture, only one image. It doesn't tell a complete story. It doesn't share the image of the mom who was frustrated and yelling 30 minutes earlier while trying to get her kids out the door for school. When I only take in a snapshot instead of viewing the whole moving picture, I am coveting or envying an "ideal image" with perfect lighting, composition, and intended emotion.
Coveting means "to yearn to possess or to have something." Often times we think of how we yearn for a car or a particular job, status or number of likes on our post.
Envy as a noun is "the feeling of discontent or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities or luck." As a verb, envy is "the desire to have these qualities, a possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else." Jealousy is "feeling resentful against someone because of that person's success, advantages or rivalry." This is all characterized by a suspicious fear or resentment.
If I covet, I yearn for something like having a particular relationship, a lifestyle, a house, the right decor, a particular car, status, job, the right opportunities, the right style, the perfect invite, or a son who hugs and kisses me etc. When I reflect on my yearnings, I realize there is a discontent in my current situation, and it is most often an unacknowledged discontent. There is a desire there for living out a particular relationship, lifestyle, house, car, status, job, opportunity, style etc. - and a son that greets me with hugs and kisses. All of this is then characterized by jealousy which causes me trouble and a suspicious fear. What is it you are yearning for friend? How have your yearnings left you discontent?
Teddy Roosevelt said "Comparison is the thief of joy." I might suggest that comparison is the dirt in which the weeds of coveting, jealousy and envy will grow. This is so heavy and convicting, and now I want to know how I can ruthlessly pull out these weeds so I can plant seeds of joy and contentment. I needed to find the root of this weed. Which lead me to explore how sin is attractive? How can comparison fool me by masking coveting, envy, and jealousy? It is found in the beginning, all the way back to Genesis 3:6 - THE WOMAN WAS CONVINCED! The fruit looked so fresh and delicious and it would make her so wise, so she ate some of the fruit, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it too. Did you read that? She was convinced, she saw something, a snapshot and it convinced her of coveting the whole picture.
Yes, we women are convinced. What have I been convinced of? I looked and took a snapshot and coveted and envied. I looked at their mother-son relationship and wanted my sons hug and kisses too. I looked at the gals figure at yoga class and wanted my figure to look that toned too. I looked at the adorable family snapshot on Instagram and wanted my family to look put together too. I looked and read about that persons success and wanted successes for myself too. I looked at the post with all the great motivation and I wanted to be motivated too. Don't get me wrong, when I look, I don't begrudge anyone of their happiness or successes, I just want it too.
So where is the line drawn? When I look and it "appears" attractive, yet it leads my thoughts down the path of discontent. When the looking convinces me that what I have is not enough. When I start to believe the way I do things is not the right way. Or when what I am doing is not eliciting the response I desire, the kisses and hugs from my son, therefore I am a failure. Friends, when the looking makes you forget the whole moving picture and all God has blessed you with or causes you to hyper focus on the one-thing you don't have or when you stay stuck, dwelling on the not-haves, this is dangerous dirt. The way to resolve this is to focus on the gratitude and thank God for everything. Plant seeds of content and thankfulness and ruthlessly weed out the comparisons in your life. Recognize we are all human and you just witnessed a snapshot, not perfection. Find your joy in everything, the total moving picture. As I read in my bible commentary, "we can't be friendly with sin and expect our lives to remain unaffected."
I can't walk around in the dirt of comparison and not expect to be free of weeds.