What do you think of me when you read my blog?
What do you imagine me doing/saying/wearing/speaking?
Am I better than you/more smart/more organised/more blessed or luckier, or am I a flibberty gibbbert/unreliable/distracted/insecure/boastful or vain?
Is my daughter happier/prettier/more intelligent/better than your kids or should she be put into school right this instant because clearly we are a bad influence on her and she needs more discipline and control?
Is my house bigger/my daughter sweeter/my family happier than yours? Do we have better holidays?
What do think about when you read my blog?
I think I do an okay job homeschooling Jemimah. She is doing pretty well in the important subjects - reading, mathematics, Bible, and has a growing interest in art, music and nature. She is widely read and even more widely travelled. She speaks passable French and a smattering of Japanese/Bhutanese/Arabic. Her writing is improving.
When I read one of my bloggy friend's posts though I can't help but feel discouraged. Her children do incredible hands-on-projects. They lap-book, they make superb scale models of temples and Great Walls and castles. Their writing is always immaculate. When I read my friend's blog and her catalogue of fabulously varied homeschooling experiences, each seemingly bigger and better than the last, I feel a bit of a failure, to be honest. I just don't measure up to her at all. I get envious.
Another friend writes incredible things about her children's behaviour and her habit-training. As I compare her two beautiful children to my strong-willed impulsive, messy, rude, poorly controlled Jemimah I can't but feel I'm letting her down. Surely she'd be better off in school where she'd at least get regular discipline. I feel discouraged. I feel bad about my parenting skills. I feel jealous of my friend.
Yet another friend has it all together spiritually. He blog is full of wonderfully inspiring pearls of wisdom. She writes from the heart and she always has the right word and the right Scripture verse for the right occasion. She encourages me to walk more closely with the Lord, and yet often I don't comment on her posts because I can't find the right words to express what I want to say as eloquently as she does. I want to be like she is.
One friend is really erudite. I always learn things on her blog. She inspires me, but she also has me in awe. She is so intelligent, and compared to her I feel so stupid. I feel inadequate.
A final friend (and I could do this with most of my regular reads, believe me) has a beautiful blog. Every thing about her life is perfect. She takes great photos of wonderful experiences. Her writing style is clear and concise, but expresses her bright and lively personality. She is incredibly funny. She posts often, but never writes twaddle. She has it all together and her stats reflect her popularity. When I read this blog I feel like throwing in the towel. This woman is in a league so far higher than mine, that it makes me realise just how shoddy my blog is in comparison. Why should people spend their valuable free time reading my blog when they could be reading hers? Let's face it - I'm a second rate failure.
Why is the grass always greener on the opposite side of the fence? Why do I compare myself critically with others? Why do I get green with envy? Why do I covet?
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
God is saddened when we compete with others. He is grieved when we are unhappy with our lot and ungrateful with the talents he has given us. He does not want us to be discontent with his gifts to us. We are his people, and he knows us. God knows our thoughts, (Psalm 139:2), and the words that are on our tongues (Psalm 139:4) He hears every whispered word, and one day he will shout them aloud from the roof tops (Luke 12:3).
True peace and satisfaction do not come from 'having what she has'. True peace comes from God. When we compare ourselves to others it only brings dissatisfaction and discontent. It doesn't make me happy, and it prevents me from seeing what God has given to me.
And believe me, he wants to give us everything we need.
As the rich young man of Matthew 19 discovered, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He also discovered that it is a waste of time 'keeping up with the Joneses':
You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
James 4: 2
When I start comparing my blog to others, I lose sight of what God has given to me. I lose sight of what's important.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
I don't know what's going on behind the façade of my friends' blogs any more than you really knows what goes on behind mine. Who knows what really goes on behind closed doors? I may never live up to the things I admire in my friends, but you know there are probably things about me that they aspire to as well. And that's okay.
We're all different, but we're all fearfully and wonderfully made, and all our days are ordained.
I'm happy to be me - warts and all. I'm happy with my lot. Are you happy with yours?
What do you see when you read my blog?