Parenting is scary and overwhelming and it’s not for the faint of heart. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but some days are definitely more challenging than others.
Right now in our house, we are dealing with a little bit of middle school drama. Nothing too terrible, mind you. Just a bit of moodiness and jealousy. But still, it’s drama and you all know how I feel about drama…
Brienne has a really sweet group of friends here in Valdosta and I love when each of them come hang out at our house. The girls are all very polite and fun-loving and creative. One minute they are making music videos and acting really cool and “teenagery” and the next minute they are running around outside, making up handshakes, and playing on the trampoline. It’s actually very interesting to watch the dynamics involved in this strange age between childhood and adulthood.
Recently, several of the girls in Brienne’s friend group, including Brienne, tried out for state honor choir. (I’m not sure if that’s the exact name of it. I’m a super observant parent, obviously, seeing as how I don’t even really know what she auditioned for.) It was a very strenuous and difficult audition process – something I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do. I probably wouldn’t even have auditioned at all because it would have intimidated me so much. But Brie and her friends auditioned and only one girl out of the group was chosen to advance to the next level. And guess what? It wasn’t Brienne.
It is unbelievably difficult as a parent to watch your child in her disappointment, knowing that she didn’t quite achieve this thing that she was striving for. My heart ached for her and I began feeling a little guilty, thinking that maybe I could’ve done more to help her achieve this goal. (Honestly, I don’t think I could’ve helped her, though, considering that I am NOT as musically gifted as she is.) Anyway, instead of being excited for this one friend who made it through the first level of auditions, Brienne and her other friends had a lot of trouble exhibiting happiness. They were envious that their friend had achieved this coveted goal, and their envy caused them to act irritably toward her.
I can relate to this feeling of jealousy. Can you? I have a terrible tendency to compare myself with others, and I have to work diligently to make sure that I am being true to myself. I want to be the woman that God created me to be but sometimes when I feel like someone else is succeeding “in my lane,” I can feel the stirrings of jealousy in my heart. Here are some of the comparisons that will bring me down every time if I let them: body image, musical talent, writing ability/success, seemingly perfect children. I mean, seriously, I am forty years old and these things are still triggers for me. I have to be intentional in my happiness for others who are succeeding at things that I am not succeeding in. This is a life-long lesson that we probably all struggle with at one time or another. But because it’s something that I constantly work on, I am (hopefully) better able to help Brienne get a handle on it too.
I feel like, even at the earliest age, little girls are pitted against each other in competition. Who can have the biggest birthday parties? Who will make the competition dance team? Who will get the solo in the church musical? You name it, there’s a competition for it. But I don’t really know why we always think the grass is greener somewhere else. I can’t understand the logic behind our feelings that we aren’t worthy. As I think about my own bouts with jealousy, I realize that a lot of our dissatisfaction comes from fear of failure. But Scripture tells us that we should “love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22) and that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). When we choose to love our friends and to rejoice in their successes, our fear will disappear.
Here is something else that we need to remember:
Who we are is enough.
Who you are is enough.
You. Are. Enough.
We are all longing to experience fulfillment and love. We want to be accepted for who we are. We want to know that who we are is exactly who we were meant to be. God tells us that we are His masterpiece. Can you even imagine that? The Creator of the world formed us in the exact way that He wanted. He placed each desire and longing, each gift, in our souls for a reason. He created me and He created you, and we are each an original work of art. There is no one else in this world who is gifted in my exact way, in your exact way. God has a specific plan and purpose for each of our gifts and desires and He wants us to use those gifts to bring glory to His name.
As a parent, one of my desires is to show my children that they can still be joyful for others, even in the midst of their disappointments. Life is not endlessly perfect, and we won’t always get what we want. But when others feel our genuine joy and excitement for them in their accomplishments, they will also be able to see Christ in us. And isn’t that the point? To constantly point others to Him?
So the next time a friend achieves a goal that I am striving toward, I will be her cheerleader. And although it’s okay to feel disappointed for myself, I can still show genuine joy and delight for her in her accomplishments. Because I know that I am right where God called me to be.
And that is enough.