Motherhood: The Measuring Stick - Part 1

by - August 31, 2010

By nature, I am a student. I love the entire process - the initial curiosity, the exploration, finding answers, applying the answers, and the evaluation. When I finished my PhD back in 2007, I found myself at a loss. I switched to the role of teacher and suddenly the only measurement of my work was if I was kept employed and student feedback. Typically the students that give you feedback are the disgruntled ones.

As a mom I feel it's my job to be a student of my children - to learn their personalities, find ways to effectively shepherd them. On the other end of that is looking for cues that I'm doing an okay job. I thrive on affirmation, and as a mom, most of what I do goes unseen. I've struggled to find that measuring stick by which to assess the job I am doing.

Instead of allowing Jesus to transform my need of external praise to finding security in His approval of me, I've often taken a gander down the dangerous path of comparing myself to other moms. Since comparing kids just makes me feel like a total schmuck, I look at the decisions we've made: what I ate during pregnancy, home birth/hospital birth, meds/no meds, circumcision/natural, coth/disposable, breast/bottle, parent directed feeding/ child directed, crib/ co-sleep, how to sleep train, how to discipline, how to do solids, etc. My personal insecurities were projected onto other moms in the form of thinking they were judging me for the decisions I'd made.

I have some friends that I refer to as domestic goddesses. We have made many of those same decisions listed above, so I compare my daily activities instead... often I fall short of their abilities to run a ship shape household. Some days I am a rock-star mom. I get Scooby to eat the entire food pyramid and use the potty. Wookie nurses like a champ and naps like a saint. I snap at no one. We spend an hour outside and only watch one episode of Curious George. The toys are picked up. I even run the vacuum over the floor once. I have dinner ready when Joe walks in the door. On other days, my only measuring stick is "Are my kids alive?" Check. Job well done.

In reality, there are is an unending supply of measuring sticks for us as moms. However, there is only one measuring stick that matters. As a follower of Jesus, my measuring stick is Jesus himself. Of that, I will always fall short. However, because I claim Christ's righteousness instead of my own, I am approved.

"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." - 2 Corinthians 10:18

That is my security, but there is still work to be done. God's approval of me does not permit me to sit idly by but it compels me to serve Him well. My mistake has often been to try to earn what has already been given to me. I try to obtain perfection by my own strength and in doing so, I shift my security back to what I can do on my own, which is anything but secure. Instead, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." - 2 Peter 1:3.

Finally, I think as moms we all need a Whitney. A Whitney is that person in your life who watches from a distance, prays for you and then steps in with words of truth and love when you need them most. She reminds you that you are the right mom for your children, the right wife for your spouse. She shows you where she sees God working in and through you. She helps you put down the measuring sticks and lift up a song of praise for your blessings and the life you have been given.

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4 comments

  1. Yes we ALL need a Whitney! (And I need more of the one we have ;-)

    That said, I see it so often! This comparing. I am a chronic comparer to whomever is better than me (or appears to be) in whatever stage of life I am in at the moment. It's a hardwired habit that I have to fight constantly.

    I am with you in that when I let Jesus change me, I do it less and less. I feel more secure and willing to just be me and live my life with no judgment.

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  2. There's a great chapter on this in CS Lewis's The Problem of Pain. Enjoying your sermons. ;) miss you.

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  3. Miss you too! I'll have to see if Joe has that book.

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