January 25, 2012

Don't Let Comparison Steal your Contentment


I love my life.  I REALLY love my life.  I have everything I need, and much of what I want, and if I complain for a moment please smack me because it means I need to get some perspective on the issue.  But sometimes I forget that. And when that happens, it's generally because I have my eyes on somebody else's blessings.

Here are 4 dangerous areas where comparison can steal our contentment.

1) Comparing ourselves to our friends. 
 The problem with comparison is that we are rarely comparing apples to apples.  At Christmas time we visited some friends and I was inside their home for the first time since they bought and renovated it. I found myself, not coveting the home, but the stuff.  Actually, the LACK of stuff.  I loved how clean and fresh and spacious the whole place felt.  I wanted to go home and throw out all my stuff so that my home could feel like hers.  And then I realized: She has a bigger house than me, and less children.  She doesn't home school.  She has different hobbies, different priorities, a very different life.  Her home is lovely....and my home doesn't have to look like it in order to be just as lovely!  Our friends have different strengths, different weaknesses, different hopes and dreams and experiences. 

2) Comparing ourselves to our mothers. 
My mother (who will probably read this: hi mom!) has an immaculate house.  Growing up I remember having to clean up because guests were coming over and being confused because the house was already clean!  But here's why comparing myself to her is so dangerous: I don't remember what the house looked like when I was a two year old.  I don't know if the dishes were done and the laundry was folded back when I was in the habit of removing my diaper during nap time and playing with the contents.  Sure, the floors were clean when I was twenty-one, but when I was one?  I'm willing to bet they weren't. Not all the time anyways.  If your mom or mother-in-law manages to keep a spotless house, be happy for her.  Maybe that will be you when your kids are grown.  And when your grown kids call home and want to bring the grandkids over to mess up that recently mopped floor, I'm sure you will say yes in a heartbeat!

3) Comparing what we do to what our husbands do.  
I'm not a marriage expert, but I can tell you that it is in your best interest just not to keep track.  It doesn't matter who got more sleep last night, who got up with the baby how many times, who's worked harder.  Except in the most extreme cases, it's likely that you are both working your butts off to create the incredible life you're living.


4) Comparing yourself to bloggers.
You know how you tidy up when you know company is coming? Well, bloggers not only know when you're coming, they know which parts of their house your going to see.  Infact, if a dirty sock or headless G.I Joe figurine manages to find it's way into the photo, we can just crop it out!

The bloggers you love most live in their homes just like you do.  They have kids, and dirty laundry, and husbands who somehow manage to use every dish in the house making a sandwich.  Even the infamous Nester has dirty laundry.  And Melissa of The Inspired Room has clutter.  You know why? Because they are actual people like you and I who only have 24 hours in the stinkin' day and probably want to spend some of those hours sleeping/showering/eating/cuddling children/volunteering/talking to their husbands/and maybe even doing absolutely nothing at all.

Just because we don't show you pictures of us neglecting the dishes or getting frustrated with our children or pretending not to see that dust bunny that just drifted past like a wild west tumbleweed doesn't mean those things aren't happening.


Friends, please don't let comparison steal your contentment.  Life is too short and our blessings are too many to waste our lives wishing for something else.  Contentment is a choice.  It is the choice to stop looking at other peoples blessings and to praise God for your own.

Thank you, Lord, for a marvelous life I don't deserve.

Thanks for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

47 comments:

  1. This is a fantastic post. I know I'm guilty of these things on occasion; luckily I realize it and try not to be. :)

    Your comment about your husband using all the dishes to make a sandwich is so true; I laughed so hard when I read that. I'll have the kitchen all cleaned, and 5 minutes later I walk in to find crumbs over every counter, knives dripping peanut butter everywhere... basically a disaster.

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  2. Oh- I just love you! You are such a sweet person and this is an awesome, encouraging post! You are making such a great use of the gifts God gave has given you. That is something to truly strive for. Mothers of young children, especially those of us who are blessed to be able to work at home, are generally in need of kind words and encouragement. We have four children- 11, 6, 4, and almost 1. As we are getting ready to move this weekend, I cannot explain the disaster my house has become and how I have felt terribly about it! This felt intended for me today, lol.

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  3. I agree wholeheartedly on everything! I can get especially caught up in #3...I did a b & c so now you should do d e & f hunny...thanks for the great post!

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  4. I love this post. It can be so hard NOT to compare yourself to others, but it really is for your own good. Being happy with what you have becomes incredibly hard when you are trying to measure up to someone else (especially when you are only seeing the best parts of them!).

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  5. Wonderful post Kelly!! Very true...and I remind myself of this everyday!

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  6. Thank you. This comes with perfect timing. While at the bus stop with my kids this morning, I was feeling a bit envious/guilty that another child there had a nice new coat (which replaced her other coat that looked new this fall), matching snowpants and a premium-looking backpack, while my kids are wearing their boots/snowpants/coats for the second year and have $10 backpacks. They get new shoes only when the need them. I felt like I was being to stingy with my kids to not enjoy wearing a nice, new (all at the same time) ensemble of winter clothes. But who knows. Maybe this kids' parents forked over a credit card for it or maybe her parents are doctors where my husband is not and I don't earn an income. I really needed this post, thanks - it was a blessing to me :)

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    1. It could even have been a gift. I know that as an aunt living abroad I can seldom see my beloved nieces... so not only do I Skype and talk to them I often send gifts of clothing since I know their size, but can seldom keep up with what they are currently most interested in (if you have mailed gifts across the Atlantic you know how long it can take, and if you haven't I promise it often takes weeks longer than you think it should.) Or they could have taken a page from my Mom's book of tricks for the chronically underfunded... buying the item on clearance a year in advance in a larger size. I grew up in clothes that were often a season behind, but when it comes to most kids clothes you really can't tell the difference! As long as you love your children as you seem to, and protect them from the elements, how new or expensive the clothing they wear isn't important.

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  7. Thank you! I needed this today! I can quickly get sucked into that "pity me" trap and frankly there is no need for that!

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  8. I have been reading your blog for a while. But I have never commented. Today, I have to comment. I feel like this entry was written TO ME! I needed this badly. Thank you for puttin' it out there!

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  9. Fantastic post! It's so very true!
    I love your blog and check in every couple of days to see what's new.
    Thanks for the inspiring words and great ideas always :)

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  10. I love your number 3! I tell my friends this all the time. So long as everyone is pitching in there's no sense in trying to keep track of who does how much or who does more than the other. That is just never a happy conversation to have unless someone is clearly carrying the load.

    LOVE this entry!

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  11. Totally love your post! It's so easy to get wrapped up in the "picture perfect" houses we see in blogs and magazines. Cause in reality, we live our lives, sometimes in mess and clutter, sometimes (albeit not long) in utter cleanliness. Love and appreciate all you are blessed to have. Thanks for your encouraging and inspirational words. x J

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  12. This article reminds me of myself, especially the no.1. I can't help myself not to compare myself to anyone, not that I'm envy, it is just that I want to make myself even more better.

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  13. Very wise words. You never know the full story from whoever you are comparing yourself to and really it's a waste of time!

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  14. Great post, found you from Country Girl's Life facebook page! This is so so true, and I find if I am not careful, I get "blog envy" too. Wishing I could photograph better, or write in a different way like such and such blogger. I think satan uses that as a tool to cause us to forget the beautiful and unique giftings the Lord has seen fit to bless each one of us with. Wherever you are, be ALL there...for the glory of God!

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  15. Wonderful timely post!

    I saw a quote recently that I keep in mind as I navigate the blog world, facebook or even life in general.

    "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." -- Steven Furtick

    I find the bloggers I gravitate to the most are the only that show the beauty and the chaos. :D

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  16. Can I just say how much I needed to read this post?? I really do love my life too... there are aspects I'd like to change {get a new job, have a baby, etc} but on the whole I've got it good. But lately I've been feeling down about it, and spending way too much time comparing myself to other people.

    It's lame. And unproductive. And it certainly doesn't make you feel good.

    So thanks for sharing this post. A good wake up call for me! :)

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  17. Wonderful post Kelly! You are so right on about this!

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  18. I really enjoyed reading this post, you write your heart and feelings so well :) I also would like to mention, that although you envied your friend and her empty house and lack of things and tidyness and such, you would be surprised, that she may envy you for your life and home :)

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  19. I totally love this post that I had to share it with all my facebook friends. So glad a friend shared a post of yours with me that I could find your blog. =0)

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  20. This is what I'm always trying to remind myself and to help teach younger women. I feel in this day and age of blogs, Pinterest and Facebook it is so easy to COMPARE and let it steal your contentment!!Great post!! I did the comparison BEFORE Internet and above mentioned websites :( Great post. THANKS!! Shared with friend on FB and Pinterest!! LOL

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  21. Love this post (love all your posts). It is so great to meet people that keep it real. Too many (me included) try to sugar coat our life. I am really trying to keep mine more real but it is hard. Not sure what I think I have to prove. I am so glad I came across your blog and FB page....Thank you so much. And I really love the picture of your hubby and the babies... just adorable:)

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  22. I am so guilty. My main culprits are comparing my life to blog life. How silly? And less silly (maybe) but still dangerous and joy-stealing is my tendency to compare myself to my friends. Blergh. I must stop.

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  23. When I was growing up, our house was always clean. When my sister was a newborn (my mom's third child) a visitor remarked, "How can your house be so perfect when you have a newborn in the house?" It was the same after the fourth child. Mine is NOT this way. So I can just hear the unspoken "I didn't teach her to be this way, and she only has two kids!" every time she visits my house. I try to remember not to compare myself to her, but I haven't mastered that one yet. Still trying.

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    1. I recommend the book "You're Wearing That?" by Deborah Tannen. You are definitely not alone. :)

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  24. I am guilty of all of these! Thank you so much for writing this, I love when I find blog posts that say what I can't. So it looks like I need to get rid of all that comparison.

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  25. I am the mom of 8. Raising my last five, and trying to rebuild a lot that was lost with my older four, ( yes, number 4 still in home, but still kinda like the baby of the first quadrant;)), DUE, IN PART, to a discontented, and very insecure mother. Always measuring my life, my marriage, my mothering, my figure, my house, my decor, my vehicle, my fun/creative factor, my organizational/frugal factor, my personality, my spirituality.....infinite list....to my peers.
    The Lord says, " when you compare yourselves with yourselves, you are not wise." Love....this is to be our pursuit....focus on loving God, loving His word, loving His people, loving the lost, loving our husbands, our children, our extended family....truly....to paraphrase,
    If I have an emaculate Southern Living/Pottery Barn home, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I have the tight, tanned, body of the highlighted blonde next door, but do not love my husband and live in a submissive way toward him, It s profited me nothing...(and more than likely wasted his precious wealth seeking my security in this), if I am the ultra cool, creative, fun Mom, whose children adore me, and view me as their best friend, but do not love their souls, and have their conformity to Christ as my highest aim in their training, I have labored in vain, and its worth nothing.......the list goes on and on. And even as I write, I weep and mourn at so many opportunities LOST, to this shameless THIEF......DISCONTENT. May Christ conquer him"

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  26. Conquer him in all our lives.

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  27. awesome post, even though my children are grown have been through what most of you are saying and sometimes still going through the inadequacies and uncertainties but it does get better. One day at a time.

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  28. I happened on your blog today and this is just what I needed! Thank you!

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  29. Brillant Post! Thank you so much for this. :)

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  30. I love this. Needed this today:)

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  31. I so needed this today! I've really been struggling!

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  32. That was so wonderfully written! I enjoyed reading this so much. I linked here from your 99 things for kids post. So good. Thanks.

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  33. found your blog today, it makes me smile. and when i found this post, i smiled wider. so good. i particuarly loved comparing to our moms - yes, i have no idea what my mom's (now immaculate) home looked like when i was a toddler - great food for thought.

    we have 3, expecting #4 which, you know, i should actually blog about one of these days on our own blog. hee, poor fourth kiddo.

    anyway, just wanted to let you know, you made me smile today.

    in peace.

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  34. Awesome- found u on Pinterest! We are getting some daily toy bins today! We have four 3 and under and I am always eager to pick up new simpler tips. I loved the rhythm vs schedule post and this one as well. Thank you for the reminder that comparison steals contentment!

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  35. *correction- we have four kids- left that part out :)

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  36. I found your site a couple weeks ago! And I LOVE it! All of it! Thank you for inspiring me. My home is becoming more organized, my children (3 girls..9,6,and 6 months) have some new ideas for projects, And I always find something that speaks to me in some way! Thanks for making me smile!

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  37. Thank you for this post! I was just talking to a friend, about how reading blogs really inspires me with ideas and idealism... and sometimes they inspire me into a complete inferiority complex! ha ha! Thanks for the reality check!~ :)

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  38. This was something I was just thinking and praying about today! I also just found your blog today from a Pintrest pin on spring cleaning... Serendipity! Thank you so much.:)

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  39. Very Good Point!! Thanks for the reminder.

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  40. WOW.. this is huge for me.. i recently started following your 31 days to a clean and organized home postings (PS.. sharing it all over FB and my blog.. hope you have recieved some traffic from it) anyways.. I needed to stop worrying what so n so's house looked like.. or if they did the same project was theirs better than mine.. Im creative and fabulous all on my own.. God made me special just the way I am..

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  41. LOL. Dust bunny like a tumbleweed! Good one!

    :) Great post!

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  42. This is an excellent reminder, thank you.

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