Getting to church is no easy task. Your fourteen year-old son won’t get out of bed. Your sixteen year-old daughter rolls her eyes when you tell her she can’t take her cell phone in the building. She yells at you and her dad, and then stomps to the car. By the time you get to church, no one is speaking and you’re in tears. You slip into the pew and smile at the family next to you. There they sit. The father has his arm around his teenage daughter. She and her brother sit, listening attentively, between their calm mom and dad. No eye-rolling. No under the breath mutterings. Their children respect them. They have it all together.
This is when other families creep in…or at least the lies creep in that start to cause us to compare ourselves to other families...
They have it all together.
Their children never seem to get in trouble.
They didn’t fight at all on their family vacation.
They don’t have any financial stresses.
Their son isn’t struggling in school.
Their daughter has friends who make good decisions.
And on and on and on.
We compare ourselves to the other families sitting around us, whether we’re sitting at a performance at school, soccer game, or yes, even in church.
It is important to remember, however, that it’s really not the other families creeping in. It is the lies that we believe when we compare ourselves to other families. Every family has their share of struggles. There is no perfect family. There is definitely no perfect teenager. After counseling these strange creatures for over 18 years, I can assure you that, no matter how “together” a family may look, every one of them has something they struggle with. It’s just a part of the process of raising children, especially as they enter this stage of needing to stretch their wings.
And your teenage children don’t help the “comparison” situation, either. They continually say things like, “All of the other mom’s” or “Everyone else in my grade has an iphone” and so on. You know the drill. The lies creep in…
It is easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to believe the lies and get down on yourself and your family. But, as we know, the best weapon to battle any lies that creep in is the double-edged sword we’ve been given in the Word of God. His truth is what we can cling to. His Word gives us everything we need to remember to keep the creeping from happening. And Isaiah 30 gives us some specific truth to hold on to in regard to finding your way through the comparisons.
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-21
God has put you in this moment. He has placed you in this family, with these very children. He has called you to be their mom—their dad—their grandparent. He has allowed whatever struggle you face with your family today…whether it be financial, emotional, physical or spiritual. But He gently reminds you not to turn to the right or to the left. Don’t look at the families around you, believing they’re in a better place than you. He has given you your way and called you to walk in it…with your family. Be confident in the role He has given you. You have everything you need, through His grace, to be the parent. No amount of what “all of the other parents” are doing can change that. Continue to walk in the way He has called you…one step at a time.
“Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of these years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.” -JRR Tolkien, The Return of the King