10 May 2010

When the grass is greener

Image from here

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.

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

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?

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.

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

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':

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.

Matthew 19:29-30

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.

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?


  1. Good Morning Jeanne,

    When I read your blog, I am encouraged, inspired and made aware of ideas that I haven't thought of before. I like you and Jemimah and your husband of course. It's different for me though, because you are like a mentor to me in the Charlotte Mason Education and I learn so much.

    I think the trap is expecting perfection from your friends or relying heavily on them to perform somthing. This I don't do, we are all walking this journey in life and all have gifts and talents that God has freely bestowed upon us and it's freeing to appreciate other peoples gifts that God has given and to encourage them in that.

    The key is knowing who you are in Christ Jesus and what your destiny in on earth, once poeple understand that and truly grasp there increible position they become free and real and true, then they a difference.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Love ya xxx

  2. oops...people! and the last line is meant to be "then they MAKE a difference!

  3. As I read your post, I was reminded of the Rich Mullins' song, "Brother's Keeper." Mainly: "I won't despise him for his weakness, I won't regard him for his strength."

    Put it in now if you want or here it is:

    Nice photo choice.

  4. I see my crazy beautiful red-headed friend :)

    I like you.


    PS - I hope you had a fabulous Mother's Day!

  5. Such a thoughtful post, Jeanne...which is why I love reading your blog. No fluff here. :) I see a woman who loves the LORD and lives intentionally for Him as she fulfills her amazing calling as a wife and mother. God bless you for encouraging others to keep their eyes fixed on Him instead of everyone else. Comparison truly is the death of contentment. Hugs to you!

  6. Great blog Jeanne, very thought provoking and encouraging!

    It's easy to fall into the trap of envy, jealousy and woes me ... something I'm sure we've all experienced at one time or another.

    But your blog has revealed God's truth perfectly. All that matters is who we are in Him and that we're living for His glory and using our individual talents/traits He's bestowed on each of us.

    Thanks for sharing your heart.

    JEN xx

  7. Hi Jeanne,
    I have definitely felt all those things at some point, even if it was fleeting, when I've read the homeschool life of others. I have even thought about taking a week or month off from the computer just to focus on our homeschool and life (not others). It seems natural to compare ourselves with others as we read, but I know I am a continual work...you know, life is not a destinaion but a journey. When I read your blog I think wow she is so confident, intelligent, motivated, blessed with beautiful things, is classy, well read travels, organised, she even knows how to use a computer properly and makes the effort to comment on others blogs...aaaahhhhhhh I'm hopeless at this homeschooling thing. Then I remember blogs are there to inform, share and encourage me. I also remember that I and my family are unique and I need to rely on God to leads us not what I think looks like a good idea. Thanks Jeanne, it's good to be reminded to ask God for guidence with everything. Blessings from one (sometimes firey!) red head to another.

  8. Hi Jeanne,
    I think of you as a friend, and your blog is the cafe where I can come and meet with you to chat about life, and books, and gardens and travel. I am in awe of your garden, and some of the places you've travelled to, but not jealous - just inspired. I am happy with my life, my children, and the way we home school. I love the holidays we take as a family, but I also love reading about yours. I think you are intelligent, capable and fun! I think we are different - but different is good!

  9. Hmmm. I think I blog for different reasons than many/most. Numbers don't matter. I was looking for heart connections & friendships so I am happy with small where I feel I am really getting to know people. When you really know people you don't envy them ~ well I don't. You laugh with them, cry with them, rejoice with them & you know their lives are far from perfect. I like to mix it up ~ & I like others who do the same because life is a funny old mix.

    I actually pay very little attention to the *things* you write about. [Goes a long way to keeping envy at bay too ☺]. I pay far more attention to what you think because for me that reveals the real you & it is the real you I like getting to know. I find you gentle & intelligent, thoughtful & slyly witty & I read here because that combination is someone I find myself liking very much indeed as a person. I think if we ever got the chance we would be friends IRL too ~ & that despite some glaring differences you foodie, you! ☺

  10. I'll be honest Jeanne... I used to struggle with trying to keep up with the Jones's many years ago. SO much so that my dh forbid me from reading certain magazines!

    I haven't struggled with discontent or jealousy lately (too much else on my plate I think, lol) but I have felt like a total failure at times when visiting your blog.

    This isn't you, to be honest. It is my weakness... and where I'm at. I haven't been in a 'good place' emotionally and mentally nor physically and it doesn't take much to make me feel lousy. I have felt like a total failure as a homeschool mum but also as a mum... as a housekeeper, financier, cook, etc

    It's times like this when I have taken time away from reading and writing... as I need to get back on my knees with the Father- for it is He that sets us in place.

    How have I seen you and your blog? Honestly? as being all together brilliant- having all your 'ducks in a row: academically, financially, emotionally relationally, spiritually, etc.

    However I have had people say similar things to me over the years (GASP) and I just know it is not true for me and have learned that it is as you say... we never truly know all about the people behind a blog. We only see what is carefully written - and that's not a bad thing.

    So when I'm in that good place' then all is fine and I don't struggle... but times like recently when I'm not in that good place- I struggle. But I hope you can see that it isn't a personal thing- it's with most people and blogs which is ultimately my issue with God.

    All in all, I love your blog... and like Ganeida I love to read what you think, so that I can get to know *you*... for you are a beautiful person with a sweet and generous spirit. :)

  11. Hi Jeanne!
    Thoughtful and honest post!
    I think you are an amazingly intelligent and capable person!
    Not many people I know hold down a full time job, home school, have a wonderful garden and home, travel around the world often, etc etc, the list goes on...Now I don't do any of those (except homeschool:)) but I am not jealous of you but just inspired by your blog and your life.
    I love reading your blog because it stretches me a bit - all those book reviews, Charlotte Mason lessons, your cooking skills, your gardening skills, etc:)
    My blog I think honestly is pretty dull and boring, it's a journal type blog and I don't really worry too much about the number of followers or commenters I have as I started it as a project to keep an online record of some aspects of our lives that I can pass onto Rebekah some day.
    Btw, I think you're doing a great job with Jemimah, I know...I've met her in real life and you:)

  12. Coming in at comment number 11 I have to say that I can agree with at least something from everyone before me!
    Jeanne, you nailed the remedy and that is the crux of this topic which seems to be doing the rounds at the moment. Our confidence and contentment should be in the Lord!
    Love Renelles's descriptive comment and Ganeida's thoughts on blog stats etc mirror mine.
    The fact that Sarah and Jeana Marie both actually know you in ral life I think speaks volumes.
    Jeanne, you are indeed an internet acquaintence who has become a dear friend. Thank you. xoxo

    Love that cow!

  13. Hmmm, I so admire those of you who, like Ganeida, can be inspired without feelings of inadequacy and envy. I'm more like Susan. I feel a failure at most things at one time or another.

    I wish I did have all those ducks in a row...

    Thanks for the song, Richele. I hadn't heard it before.

    I'm firey too, Renelle LOL!

    Love you all. xxx

  14. ...Beautifully written. I just love that what you've expressed is so true to each and every one of us. We are all more alike than we are different. Thank goodness for that!

  15. Well, this is the first time I've seen your blog. Thanks for commenting over on mine.

    what do I think?
    You're a thinker.
    You've got a sense of humour (yep, love the cow)
    Your daughter is blessed to be able to travel so much - wowee!

  16. Hi Jeanne

    At first I was smiling at this blog - it sounds like you're human and esp. female to me. But maybe it's just that I can really relate to feelings of inadequacy. I love those verses. (It's sung beautifully by Sons of Korah on their 'Rain' album.) How amazing that our God knows us so intimately from our very beginnings. "How great is the love of the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 JOhn 3:1a)

    You definitely come across as smarter than me and more organised - except I think you are probably still in your PJ's. Dispite our faults and failings I think I have the most wonderful family in the world and wouldn't swap for anything. (Though I'm sure Jemimah is beautiful and I'd be dissappointed if you didn't feel the same way about her.)

    I read your blog because it find it encouraging and I learn alot and I like the way you write. You can't compare it to mine since I don't have one - which of course puts me in the position of advantage, but yours is only 1 of 2 that I check nearly every day. (It's a time thing - I could spend more time reading other blogs if I had it to spare.)

    I appreciate the time you take to inform, inspire and share.


  17. 1. I look forward to your blog like I do talking to my best friend!

    2. I think how I wish I was as organized and neat as you seem to be!
    3. I think when Jemima goes off to College [University] you should be a children's librarian--you could publish on Aussie Kiddie Lit!
    4. I think how lucky Jemima is!

  18. Great post, Jeanne and most thought provoking! I have definitely been where you spoke about regarding the blogging world but at the end of the day each of us are just the same... sinners saved by grace. I'll always read your blog 'cause your an Aussie even if you are in Melbourne and have better access to shops, know more about everything,have a way better house/ garden/ child than me... etc etc etc hahaha!!! Love you in spirit "O)


  19. What a well thought out post. That Spirit of competition causes so much derision. Each time I have seen a friendship fall apart, or feelings get hurt between women friends this is usually what is at the heart of it. I think it keeps us feeling inadequate, and isolated. Contentment can be hard to find, but so worth it.

  20. Hi Jeanne,

    I know I am coming in very late on this post, but I really like this line,
    ""When I start comparing my blog to others, I lose sight of what God has given to me.""
    That really hits the nail on the head for me.
    Thanks for this post. :)

  21. What do I think? I think things like "I wish I lived next door to this woman" :-)

    I enjoy your reading blog and I really appreciated your thoughts in this post.

    Bless you!


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