by: Jessica Lowery

 As moms it can be so easy to get caught up in the "comparison trap"! Constantly comparing ourselves to other moms; whether it be how they parent, what they do or don't do, what they have that I don't, their smaller pant size or flawless skin, their spotless house or scratch made dinners, their easy pregnancies, their extravagant birthday parties, their wealth, their family vacations and we all know the list continues; and scrolling your Facebook newsfeed doesn't make this "trap" any easier! But what about their struggles, their hardships, their abusive relationships, their family problems, their addictions (whether it be greed or alcohol) would you want that too? Because the reality is, everyone has sufferings, we just know how to hide them from the public eye.
     As a newly wed, nearly eight years ago, I remember texting my husband everyday asking him what he wanted for dinner that evening; I wanted to be that wife that had an amazing dinner waiting on him each night he got home from work. I remember the day when he said "I don't care, just make something. Whatever you make I will eat it"! At first I couldn't believe what I heard; it just seemed so easy to make him happy without going above and beyond. I no longer had to compare myself to what other wives were doing or what I thought my role was.  The contentment that he had spoke volumes.

     Then we had kids, three kids (that are one, three, and five years old to be exact), and I would put so much effort into making sure the house was spotless before he would walk in the door from work. This was exhausting and unattainable to say the least. I would find myself overwhelmed, bitter, angry, anxious, yelling at my kids to not touch anything that was finally in its place and then he would come home and not be the least bit impressed with the mood I was in or why our kids were crying for attention. As far as the house being picked up, at that point it didn't even matter! Again, he helped shift my focus by saying "I don't care what the house looks like. We have three kids five and under, this is the season of life that we are in. When we are old and by ourselves we can clean all day long together". Through Jakes words and seeking God himself I learned that the things that I thought mattered so much, that I tried so hard to be perfect in, didn't matter at all to those that loved me. Isn't that what the "comparison trap" does?! It fools us to believe that certain things matter in life, when the truth is that they really don't!! Jake is always reminding me, when I need it most, where to spend my time and focus and that is on things that really matter!


     If Jesus were to knock at your door tomorrow he would not be impressed by how clean it is, whether or not the beds are made or dishes in the sink and dishwasher are put away, the high end trinkets perfectly dusted on your shelves, the awards and achievements hanging on your wall, or the amount of money in your bank account ; BUT, he would be concerned with just how many people you have helped, how many sacrifices you have made, how your time was being spent, how many people you have shared His love with and the love you pour out on to others. The "comparison trap" sucks you in to having to live a perfect life, on the outside, but robs you of experiencing joy, peace and happiness on the inside. Keeping up with the "Jone's" can be exhausting, because once you finally get the perfect house, car, clothes, or whatever you think will make you happy you will never be satisfied and constantly searching for more to fill your empty cup. BUT what if that cup was already full without all of the STUFF; and the blessings along the way continued to overflow your cup day in and day out, and you were never left discontent BUT always satisfied with what you had?! This IS the life God desires for us to live! How are you living? Where is your focus? He knows that by getting caught up in the "comparison trap" we are allowing our self to be constantly under attack, leaving us without the fruits of the spirit. He tells us in Matthew 6:21 "wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be".

You might be thinking that all sounds great, but how do I get to the point of feeling that way? The answer is Jesus! However, sometimes insecurities with your self-image and jealousy get in the way of living free of this "comparison trap," even if you do believe. This is where we must first:
1.) Believe what God says about us
2.) Focus on what matters and
3.) Follow Jesus.

      God says that we are "FLAWLESS", meaning there is nothing we can do to earn His love because he already paid the price in FULL for ALL of our sins. The ones we made in the past, the ones we will make today, and every sin in our future. Once we grasp that concept and believe it, we will no longer have to search for perfection because we are already perfect in His eyes and that is all that matters! The same goes for everything else in our life. We will no longer have to search for the next best thing to make us temporarily happy or strive to keep everything perfect, like the lives that appear that way around us; because, we will begin to see our life and stuff as already perfect, just as He does.
     You have a choice to live a life of gratitude, focusing your attention on the daily blessings in your life or continually comparing your life to those around you. In doing so, you will miss out on the many blessings right in front of you, because you're too worried about what other people think. It's time to break your chains and experience Gods plan for your life! Get ready, you will be in awe of how truly "freeing" it feels to break that bondage!
     As we approach Christmas it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. I encourage you to take a step back this Christmas. God doesn't care about the burnt Christmas cookies, ornaments being thrown off the tree, half up Christmas decorations, the search for that perfect gift, or Christmas cards that never make it out. Rather than always focusing on what you want I encourage you to shift that focus to what you already have! More than anything he wants you to LOVE the life that he has given you, just as it is, and spread that love to those around you. We are all in this together, let's build each other up and break free of the "comparison trap".

Blessings to all,
Jessica Lowery